On September 15 and 16, Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation held their 10th annual Bicyclists Bring Business event in Schenectady. Dozens of business owners, community leaders, planners, and interested citizens attended the evening roundtable event at the historic, Vaudeville-era Proctors Theatre in Downtown Schenectady.
The location and the venue appropriately demonstrated the interest in marketing the city’s businesses to cyclists arriving from the Erie Canalway Trail/ Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Bicycle-friendly businesses such as the Stockade Inn complement a vibrant downtown with amenities that include dozens of restaurants and bars, hotels and bed and breakfasts, and entertainment consisting of a live Broadway theatre and a multiplex movie theatre. Schenectady’s compact downtown, historic architecture, and cultural richness make it an ideal stop for cyclists looking for a place to rest after a long day of biking or a short ride from an adjacent town or neighborhood.
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and Canal Corporation Director, Brian Stratton welcomed attendees. An overview of the Erie Canalway Trail was then provided by Canal Corporation’s Trails Director, John DiMura. Parks & Trails New York’s Executive Director, Robin Dropkin then talked about cycling tourism trends in the United States and Canada. An engaging discussion among the diverse group followed. All attendees received a copy of the PTNY and Canal Corporation handbook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities.
The following morning, a small group showed up on their bicycles to participate in a short bike-a-round along a route that highlighted the Erie Canalway Trail’s eastern and western approaches into Schenectady, the historic Stockade District, and connections between the trail and downtown. Using the checklist at the end of the Bicyclists Bring Business handbook, riders discussed signage and ease of navigation into and out of downtown, the presence of trailside businesses, and suggestions for improving trail blaze frequency and wayfinding signage. This discussion occurred over lunch at Bombers Burrito Bar on State Street in Downtown Schenectady.
In the coming months, Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation will be releasing a report summarizing the event and offer suggestions for increasing Schenectady’s marketability to Erie Canalway Trail tourists. Sponsors included Proctors Theatre, the City of Schenectady, Schenectady County, the Capital District Transportation Committee, and the Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.