Brockport Embraced as Empire State Trail Town

The recreation season is in full swing in Brockport! As part of the Empire State Trail Town pilot program, we are ramping up exploring new ways to engage with outdoor enthusiasts in the village.

PTNY selected the Village of Brockport as a pilot community for the Empire State Trail Town program after learning more about the community’s desire to take full advantage of their location along the Erie Canalway Trail to both support local tourism and create safe places for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Village is already incredibly progressive in thinking about ways to invest in outdoor recreation, and improve the quality of life for both residents and visitors. Over the last several months, PTNY and a group of steering committee members have focused on relationship building, data collection, and community engagement to find new and innovative ways to build upon these efforts.

In April, Mayor Blackman, Village board members and staff, members of Walk! Bike! Brockport! Action Group, SUNY Brockport students, the Brockport Rotary, and local residents came together for Canal Clean Sweep, celebrating Earth Day by cleaning up debris and litter leftover from the winter along the Erie Canalway Trail. The overwhelming support and participation in Canal Clean Sweep from Village residents and community leaders demonstrates a community-wide commitment to the surrounding trail network— a characteristic that is important for a Trail Town to embrace. This commitment signals to visitors that time spent passing through, or visiting, Brockport will be a safe and enjoyable experience. Survey data collected from users that completed the entire 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail suggest that areas of the trail that are free and clear of litter are the places that were most memorable and enjoyable. As the first Empire State Trail Town, setting an expectation for visitors that pass through Brockport is important. This one clean-up effort set a good precedent, and as part of this effort, the Brockport Rotary and Drake Memorial Library will assume primary responsibility for maintaining 1.5 miles of the Erie Canalway Trail year-round as part of PTNY’s Adopt-A-Trail Program

On Monday, May 23, PTNY and the Village hosted a community listening session at the Seymour Library. The listening session allowed residents and community members to share their perspective on what the Village already does, or can do, to increase the number of long-distance Canalway Trail users who choose Brockport for an overnight stay, encourage users to start a trip in Brockport or visit Brockport as part of their trip along the Erie Canalway Trail, spend money at local business, or motivate Brockport residents walk or bike (on or off the trail) for transportation purposes (commuting or running errands). Framed as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, participant feedback ranged from the quality of services offered through the Welcome Center to a desire to see more dedicated bike lanes throughout the Village. All of the information collected during this exercise will help inform an action plan that can help the Village make additional, incremental improvements. For those that were unable to attend, but have opinions about how the Village can foster a “trail culture” and improve trail user safety, comfort, and inclusivity, we highly encourage you to take an online survey.

The listening session was the perfect way to get everyone talking about the things that can impact their day-to-day life outside, and what better place to continue those conversations than from the saddle of a bicycle? Guided by staff from Parks & Trails New York, the NYS Canal Corporation and volunteers from Walk! Bike! Brockport! Action Group, a 7-mile “slow roll” style bike ride around the Village was scheduled for the following day. Along the way, riders were encouraged to stop to talk about the unique assets and characteristics within Brockport that can either attract or deter users – ranging from adequate signage to the condition of sidewalks. The ride allowed everyone to experience the Village as if they were visiting cyclists, experiencing the community from a different perspective. While getting out on a bike is fun, it can also be illuminating. Participants can talk openly about their experience, and these experiences can help shape policies within the Village to meet the needs of cyclists and pedestrians.

Data collection efforts will continue over the upcoming months to help further justify why investing in multi-use trails and outdoor recreation is not only good for Trail Towns like Brockport, but for the entire corridor. Justifying these claims will require us to know more about user experience as well as the level and type of trail usage. In 2021, nearly 60,000 visitors passed through Brockport. Manual counts will help validate electronic count data we collect this year and allow us to tell a much more detailed story about changes in trail-use over time. With major construction for the Brockport Loop and the Main Street Bridge closure on the horizon, we will rely on these baseline figures to understand the impact these projects have on traffic flow. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up to learn more about how they can be part of these efforts throughout the summer.

With 9 new certified Bike Friendly Businesses and the Welcome Center now open, visitors can easily access quality services and amenities in the Village. The Welcome Center office is open from 12:00-6:00 pm every day until October. While there is a public restroom open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., visitors seeking 24-hour access to accessible restrooms with showers and laundry facilities or overnight tent camping accommodations will need to call ahead (585-637-1000) to register and will be required to pay a $5 key fee.

Now might be the time to start planning your bike trip to Brockport!  

Other ways to stay connected to all things outdoors in Brockport

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