Hittin’ the Trail

2017 Bicyclists Bring Business Events Head to Utica

Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation hit the trail to Utica for the annual “Bicyclists Bring Business: Canalway Trail Tourism for Your Downtown!” events. The evening program and community bike ride generated healthy discussion and excitement about how Utica, Oneida County, and the Mohawk Valley can further develop as cycling destinations.

This year’s events were sponsored by the City of Utica, Oneida County Tourism, Oneida County Health Department, and Utica Bike Rescue, Homegrown Bicycle Adventures, and Mohawk Valley GIS.

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The venue for Tuesday’s Evening Roundtable was thINCubator (326 Broad Street, Utica), a shared work space that demonstrates that innovation and creativity are alive and well. After light refreshments, the evening’s presentations provided an update Utica’s growing urban cycling network and future connections to the Empire State Trail, and some background on bicycle tourism on the Erie Canalway Trail. The heart of the program, as always, was robust discussion and a bringing together of various public agencies and resident groups around issues related to the bike/ped network.

All Attendees received a copy of the handbook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide to Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities.

On Wednesday, as a follow-up to the presentation, staff from Utica Bike Rescue led a Community Bike-a-Round, a relaxed ride on Utica’s stretch of the Erie Canalway Trail and through several of Utica’s vibrant downtown neighborhoods.  Along the way, the group was able to see new recreational loop routes from the perspective of a cycling tourist. We’ll make stops to discuss connection to local points of interest and opportunities for improved infrastructure, programming, and promotion. After the ride, the group talked over what they saw over lunch at Aqua Vino.

Despite a great evening event and a

wonderful ride that reinforced Utica’s beauty, history, and great potential as a cycling destination, much work remains. However, all agreed that the enthusiasm generated and connections made at this week’s events will provide a boost to local efforts.

Media Coverage

Coverage of the evening event is available here, and bike around clips here.

Economic Impact of the Canalway Trail

According to a 2014 study, the Erie Canalway Trail experiences more than 1.58 million visits per year, and spending by ECT visitors generates approximately $253 million in annual economic impact. Oneida County’s 25 miles of existing Canalway Trail feature scenic views of the Mohawk River and connect the cities of Rome and Utica to the statewide trail network. With the County’s remaining gap section scheduled to be closed by 2020 as part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail vision, and the region’s unique combination of big-city amenities and access to the Mohawk Valley and Southern Adirondacks, Utica is well positioned to become a premier destination for cycling tourists and other recreationalists.

Bicyclists Bring Business, or B3, is presented in one Canalway Trail community each year by Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation. Communities interested in hosting B3 should email b3roundtable@ptny.org.

Thanks!

Thanks to all the great event sponsors and partners in Utica that made this year’s event memorable and successful!

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New Adopt-a-Trail Group Windsor Village Shops Plans to Keep New Lockport Trail Beautiful

As soon as 5.5 miles of Erie Canalway Trail opened in Lockport last fall, Kathy O’Keefe and her business Windsor Village Shops jumped on the opportunity to adopt a one mile segment just outside the village of Lockport. She made her decision to join the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail program long before the pavement dried, however.

9ba64c_9982c6ba7ca24587af3b21812b09134eKathy owns Windsor Village Shops, a collection of what she refers to as “grassroots-minded” small businesses housed in a restored Mid-Nineteenth Century building that includes a greenhouse built with stone cut from the Erie Canal. These businesses include several boutique shops and a cafe. Aside from the building’s historical significance, her investment in the Windsor Village Shops is also linked to the construction of the adjacent segment of Erie Canalway Trail — she saw the new trail as a source for hundreds of potential customers. Once the trail opened, Kathy put out a brightly painted orange bike to welcome trail users as they pass through Lockport.

Building on this welcoming sentiment, Kathy decided to use the Adopt-a-Trail program as a way to keep the trail around her business looking as great as it did the day it opened. Thanks to the manpower associated with Windsor Village Shops, Kathy has assembled a group of about a dozen volunteers to assist in these efforts. In addition to picking up debris and litter, they plan to plant wildflowers adjacent to the trail and raise the profile of their group by hosting Canal Clean Sweep and Canal Splash events.

The Erie Canalway Trail is a 360-mile multi-use trail extending between Buffalo and Albany. It is part of the larger 524-mile New York State Canalway Trail System. More than 50 groups have adopted trail segments throughout the system. Go to Parks & Trails New York’s website to check out which sections of trail are available near you and learn more about how you can participate in the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail program.

Meet an End-to-Ender: Jean Beaudoin

Congratulations to Jean Beaudoin, one of the newest Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Enders! Beaudoin, co-owner of a Montreal brewpub, Benelux Brasserie Artisanale, boxed his bike and traveled by train to Toronto, before cycling 100 miles to reach Niagara Falls and the official start of the Erie Canalway Trail, Canalside in Buffalo. After riding the trail 360 miles across the state from Buffalo to Albany, he checked in at PTNY to relay his impressions of a memorable trip.

For Jean, October was the perfect month to take a relaxing trip along the Erie Canalway Trail, a peaceful week after a busy summer in Montreal. Jean found many of the towns along the canal charming, but Little Falls made an strong impression on him, with the Gansevoort House Inn and Little Falls’ newest restaurant, the Copper Moose Ale House, as highlights. Jean’s trip was his first fully-loaded tour and the Erie Canalway Trail gave him the experience he needed to plan future bicycle vacations around the world!

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Jean’s  stories and excitement for the Erie Canalway Trail inspire us in our daily work, and we hope they make you want to get out on the Erie Canalway Trail or any trail within New York’s great trail network.

The End-to-Ender recognition program, administered by PTNY in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation, recognizes anyone who has completed the entire Erie Canalway Trail, on a bicycle or on foot, whether in one multi-day through-trip or in segments over a long period of time. PTNY sends a special decal and a certificate of achievement to each person who registers as an End-to-Ender through the online form, as well as publishing a list of End-to-Enders in the yearly program report. If you have completed the Erie Canalway Trail this year, remember to register as an End-to-Ender so we can record and celebrate your achievement!

500 riders, 400 miles, 300 photos, 200 communities: Cycling the Erie Canal

There is no better way to see  the history and beautiful scenery New York has to offer than traveling by bike. This year PTNY hosted more than 500  bicyclists on the 16th annual Cycling the Erie Canal bike tour July 13-20. Representatives from the New York State Canal Corporation, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, and many other agencies and groups working to promote, interpret and support this amazing resource also joined the riders for part of the eight-day event.

A big thanks to everyone who rode along and came out to welcome the cyclists to their community. We hope to see you all on the trail with us next year!

Check out the great photos below and find more photos at the Canalway Trails Association New York Facebook or at PTNY’s Instagram.

Cycling the Erie Canal

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