Posts Tagged ‘Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’

Youth Earn-a-bike in Detroit’s Osborn Community

Monday, August 13th, 2012

This is the fourth week for a youth earn-a-bike program in the Osborn community, more specifically at E. Outer Drive and Van Dyke Avenue. Once again, Mode Shift has covered this program quite comprehensively in this article.

Basically, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy directed a $12,500 grant to the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC) to run a youth earn-a-bike program that also did community service. This DECC program was 2 two-week sessions for kids 10-14. Thirty used bikes, parts, and tools were purchased through The Hub of Detroit. The youth learned how to repair a bike – which they kept – and did work in the community along with group rides. They also got helmets, bike locks, and bike lights.

Why Osborn? There have been earn-a-bikes in various parts of Detroit, but not in Osborn despite it having a high concentration of youth. And, the Milbank Greenway is located here along with a new segment of the Conner Creek Greenway, which is being constructed this year.

Also, this area was the focus of a series of Free Press articles on Safe Routes to School. For some, being able to bike to school might be a safer, quicker alternative to walking and the DDOT buses. A related note, The Hub of Detroit did a survey of students at the School of Performing Arts in Detroit. Not having a bike was the second most common reason for not riding to school. (Number one was the fear of bike theft and bullying.)

Part of the community service involves a pop-up bike shop where the youth and instructors will do free minor repairs on bikes. The shop be on the Milbank Greenway at Van Dyke (just north of E. Outer Drive) this Thursday, August 16th from 10am until noon.

What happens next? DECC has tools and workstands to keep this program running on Detroit’s east side. More funding would be needed for the bikes, parts, and instructors. Stay tuned.


Act now! House transportation bill a “total disaster” for biking, walking and trails

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

From Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:

We aren’t exaggerating when we say this ask has never been more urgent.

Please read more and take action now. We have until 4 p.m. EST today to have our thoughts heard.

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 2, the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on our nation’s next multiyear surface transportation bill.

There’s no way to spin this: From the perspective of trails, walking and bicycling, the bill is a total disaster.

Among its worst features are:

  • It eliminates dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program?the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. (Terrible news, but we expected it.)
  • It removes the rail-trail category from TE eligibility.
  • It completely eliminates funding for the Safe Routes to School program.
  • It eliminates funding for bicycle and pedestrian coordinators at state DOTs.

But there’s still a chance…

Representatives Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) are considering the introduction of an amendment in the committee that would right many of the bill’s wrongs.

But they need to hear from other committee members that their amendment has a fighting chance.

Please: Take two minutes and ask your representatives to defend trails, walking and bicycling. We only have until 4 p.m. EST today, so any additional support you’re able to gather will make an enormous difference!

Thank you,

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Urban Pathways Initiative in Cleveland

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

I spent time last week at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Urban Pathways Initiative in Cleveland, Ohio. This was their second summit with last year’s being in New Orleans.

This was a very good opportunity to learn what others are doing to making biking and walking more prevalent in urban centers primarily through building trails. Too often trail building discussions focus on the easier-to-implement trails in more rural or suburban environments. This conference looks at trail building in urban areas where greater density and land use creates more challenges.

Many low-income populations and communities of color in urban areas confront the problems of obesity, congestion and scarcity of open space on a
daily basis. Promoting neighborhood use of shareduse pathways can help address these challenges.

Also, this pathways summit was an opportunity to present on all our positive efforts in Detroit. There was a Detroit-specific panel while I presented on another regarding stewardship and partnership.

Here are some of the big takeaways.

Building Diversity

The U.S. bicycle advocacy movement is mostly white. Some national organizations talk the talk, but it seems only the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is walking the walk. They are not only sensitive to the lack of diversity, they’re are trying to do something about it – though they admittedly acknowledge that they have much to learn.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) advocates for equitable investment in underserved communities while promoting the health, transportation and environmental benefits of trail use. RTC staff has engaged local partners, focusing on programs and improvements that enhance access and foster community ownership of trails in urban areas.

There was a session on lessons learned in communities of color. It brought forward some interesting perspectives from Compton, Camden, Milwaukee, and more. Much of the discussion was on increasing participation in bicycling and less on diversifying our organizations, which is also critical.

Pedal for Prizes

This was one of the more unique bike-oriented events we heard about. It’s like an alley cat with less mayhem that can build support for local business.

Registration will begin at 11:30am, and riders will be sent off with their maps and stamp cards in tow at 12:30pm sharp.  Ride your bike to as many of our twenty-two destinations as you’d like until 3pm.  Make your way back to Loew Park by 3:30pm to turn in your card for raffle tickets that you can put towards any of seventy-five prizes valued anywhere between $10 and $625 that will be displayed on a table.

There is more information on the Pedal for Prizes web site.

Cleveland, Ohio

In my short stay, Cleveland struck me as a smaller, cleaner, less vacant city with better transit. On the flip side, their Lakefront Bikeway was disappointing. The pavement condition was horrific.

However, they do have tremendous amount of bike parking within their downtown. It was mostly simple, no-nonsense loops that just work.

I also visited their Morgana Run trail, which is quite promising except for their road crossing treatments. It seems Detroit’s traffic engineers are much further ahead when it comes to on-road designs.

Michigan is #1 for Rail-Trail miles

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

According to some recent news from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Michigan leads all other states for the number of rail-trail miles.

Michigan currently has 2,478 miles. Minnesota is a close second with 2,309 while Wisconsin sits in third with 1,788.

Not all of these trail miles are as well-developed as the Paint Creek or Dequindre Cut, but they’re open so they count.

It’s good to see Michigan leading the nation in a positive category.

Urban Pathways to Livable Communities

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

MTGA’s Nancy Krupiarz and I are in New Orleans for the Urban Pathways to Livable Communities conference. With the ever growing expansion of Detroit’s greenways, this should be an excellent opportunity to understand more best practices from communities similar to Detroit.

The Urban Pathways to Livable Communities conference begins tomorrow in New Orleans. Hosted in part by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the conference aims to create connections between the fields of transportation, public health and planning on the local, state and national levels. The first day of the conference is hosted by RTC’s Urban Pathways Initiative. It will bring together trail advocates and professionals from across the nation to discuss best practices for building and encouraging use of trails in low-income urban neighborhoods.

There is additional information and a podcast on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy web site.

— Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coordinator, MTGA