Bicyclists Bring Business Roundtable Summaries
Capital Region: Glens Falls, Waterford
Central New York: Jordan, Utica
Mohawk Valley: Canajoharie
Western New York: Albion, Brockport, Lockport, Palmyra
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Seymour Library, Brockport, New York, May 6, 2008
Participants presented the following ideas that could be implemented to further accommodate and build awareness of the importance of bicycle tourists.
B&B owners should meet and visit the other B&Bs in the area so each owner can learn about what others offer. This can help with referrals when they are full or in recommending a place where a guest may stay the next night.
- Signs are needed to let cyclists know what is available in each community, especially as many towns are on the other side of the canal from the trail.
- Communities need to know the Canal Corporation rules and regulations that apply to erecting signs along the trail.
- More information is needed on places to camp.
- Signage is needed to let trail users know the location of first aid and hospitals.
- Emergency personnel need to know how to access the trail.
- Mileage markers are needed to identify location and provide information on distance traveled.
- The entire community should be knowledgeable about the trail so they can help visitors.
- Local businesses should familiarize front line tourism people and other service people with their facilities.
- Get Chambers of Commerce involved.
- Medina received a grant to help educate businesses and service people to what the community offers.
- Provide information (maps) to get cyclists into the historic areas of downtown Rochester.
- Business owners should be familiar with the 25-30 miles of trail to the east and west of their location to better serve visitors.
- B&B owners should be familiar with the location of nearby golf courses.
- Lockport needs a place for boat tie-ups close to amenities.
- Business owners/ community members should create other bike tours (local loops) to local attractions, e.g. wineries.
- Transport of luggage and cars is important to bicyclists – some B&B owners provide service, Mr. Dependable provides service as a business.
- More camping sites are needed, especially for cross country cyclists.
- More towns need welcome centers.
- Provide security for bikes overnight and at bike racks in the commercial area (visitors may have security concerns even though the area may have little crime).
- Develop themed loop trails.
- Coordinate with and include businesses on the old Erie as well as the Barge route.
- Create a passport book for trail users to encourage visiting many communities.
- Get a brass band to welcome the Cycling the Erie Canal (CTEC) riders – make it an event for the whole community the day the riders come through.
- Change the Canalway Trail Celebration to the week of the CTEC ride so there are events taking place in each community when the riders go through.
- Use the Ragbrai model.
- Offer the CTEC ride multiple days and weeks, maybe throughout one month.
- Create a place on the Parks & Trails New York website where Canalway Trail villages and towns can post their events.
- Canal Corporation could supply a template for signs that meet their approval that communities could erect to let people know what services and businesses are available.
- Canal Corporation could erect a generic sign on the trail that uses icons to describe the type of services available.
- Get business owners and elected officials out on bikes to experience what it is like in their community for a cyclist.
Types of Customers – based on experience of business owners
- cross country cyclists
- international cyclists
- boaters such as kayakers
- golfing cyclists (yes, they carry their clubs on their bikes)
- Camping is not allowed in Monroe County on public lands.
- Bike shop owner – many accidents on trail, bike/bike and bike/pedestrian.
- Stone dust surface may damage bikes if they are not cleaned after using the trail. Pave trail where possible.
- Separate walkers, skaters, and cyclists with lines painted on the trail like in FL.
- Smooth large stones from the trail.
- Illegal motorized vehicles are a problem.
- Snowmobiles can be a problem in the winter.
Participants presented the following ideas that could be implemented to further accommodate and build awareness of the importance of bicycle tourists on the Canalway Trail.
1. There is no way to fully monitor the amount of trail use.
2. We would like to get information on the number of persons getting off at Thruway exits
a. Canal Corporation will look into getting these numbers
3. There is too little communication between tourism groups. More partnerships are needed. It is fragmented now.
4. Include more links on websites
1. Use local roads to connect to Sylvan Beach. It could be an appealing extra loop off the Canalway Trail.
2. Utica has already marked a loop trail connecting city sites that links to the Canalway Trail.
1. Brochure exchanges are very helpful for promoting area attractions.
2. Open mike sessions at local government meetings, such as Utica City Council, are
often televised and another opportunity for promoting events.
Jordan-Elbridge Community Center,
Participants asked questions and presented ideas that could be implemented to further accommodate and build awareness of the importance of bicycle tourists on the Canalway Trail.
1. Signage is needed to assist trail users with getting across Syracuse.
a. The route is outlined in Parks & Trails New York’s Cycling the Erie Canal guidebook
b. The City of Syracuse could erect signs – Parks & Trails will share with the City their suggested route
2. Signs are needed on the Trail stating who is responsible for maintenance and who to call if something needs attention (e.g. if a trail user notes a tree down)
3. Are there universal signage standards for all signs on the Canalway Trail?
a. The Canal Corporation has signage guidelines but they only must apply to lands they own. In sections where the Trail is owned by municipalities, then their signage standards would apply there.
4. Brochure racks can be helpful for trail users and boaters. They work well in Oswego.
5. Jordan is not on the new Canalway Trail maps issued by the Canal Corporation.
1. How do you ensure the safety of trail users, especially if a person is alone?
a. Ride with others
b. Consider bike patrols
c. Keep vegetation clear
d. Involve law enforcement personnel
2. The Cato to Jordan spur trail needs cleaning. From Cato one can go to Lake Ontario
1. Jordan needs a welcome sign on the Trail. What needs to be done if a community wants to erect a welcome sign along the Trail?
a. For Jordan, one would need to secure permission from the Onondaga County Parks Department.
2. Bicyclists and boaters carry GPS units. When listing amenities in guidebooks or websites, include GPS coordinates so attractions, restaurants, places to stay can be easily located on maps available from handheld devices.
3. There is a need to create places of interest
a. An Art Trail is being created along the length of the Canalway Trail involving all the communities and businesses that promote the arts. There will be a brochure and website listing arts venues.
4. There should be an organized tour of a section of the Trail and Canal every weekend for tourists and residents as a way to ensure sustained promotion
5. Hold an educational bike ride for tourism professionals that will help tourism people experience the Canalway Trail so they will be better able to field questions from the public.
6. It is important to find ways to get out people out to see the Canal and the Trail.
7. Weedsport, Camillus, and Jordan are beginning to work together to promote the Trail and Canal.
8. It will take time for tourists to come. One may offer tours and no one comes, but it is important to keep offering them as eventually they will.
1. Install directional and services signage at each community –municipality would be responsible for this with permission from the Canal Corporation
2. Develop a standard Canal Corp direction sign for the trail
3. Install mileage markers (planned by Canal Corporation once more miles are complete)
4. Provide medical, ATM, police information at trail kiosks
5. Provide information on campgrounds and make more campgrounds available
6. Provide trail users with information on where cell phones do an do not work
7. Mid-Lakes marina could provide bike trip itineraries
1. Develop a B&B shuttle/limousine service – This is evolving (suggestion to examine the customer/luggage transport services provided by canoe/kayak rental services for suggestions on how to do it)
2. Use Amtrak and canal boats for transport of one-way cycling tourists
3. Build canal docks to accommodate kayaks. Encourage more “tourist homes” in addition to B&Bs
4. Promote cycling as a sport in schools
5. Provide public restrooms and bike racks – could be supported with community donations
1. Promote year round activities on the trail
2. Communities create bike loops using local roads to encourage cyclists to stay longer
3. Attend village and town board meetings to present the bicycle tourism program to alert elected officials of the potential of bicycle tourism
4. Create a tourism board or tourism director for each canal community
5. Develop “Cyclists Welcome” campaign and a corridor brand
6. Develop a promotional video for the Canalway Trail System – Canal Corporation
7. Provide State tourism officials with more information on bicycling; help local tourism groups by providing bicycle tourism information
8. Create a web-based pilot of Cycling the Erie Canal guide – underway through Parks & Trails New York
9. Develop a Canalway website
a. List all Canalway events
b. Provide an annual Canalway Trail calendar
c. Include regional tour information
10. League of American Bicyclists has a brochure on how to make communities bicycle friendly
1. Parks & Trails New York will examine liability insurance for bike rental businesses. If municipalities undertook the rentals would that address the insurance issues?
2. Canal Corp will provide information on what signs are allowed along the trail and how to obtain a permit
Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises,
1. Make highway Canalway logo sign larger so it can be more easily read
2. Develop an efficient process for Canal Corporation to allow businesses to have a sign on the trail
3. Install services signs like on the Thruway – provided by the businesses and/or the municipality
4. Canal Corporation could install generic services signs using universal symbols
5. Install one sign with a map for each municipality that would list/locate businesses
6. Install brochure racks on Canal Corporation signs
1. Inventory the resources that exist – each town should do their inventory and submit the information to PTNY for the website
• Bike shops
• Restaurants, pubs
• Visitor centers
• Cultural attractions, museums
• Kid-friendly information
2. Hold educational seminars for local law enforcement agencies – police need greater awareness of the trail and how they can help
1. Undertake community education – involve the whole town
2. Increase web presence of the Canalway Trail – create a single source for Canalway Trail information
a. Add community events
b. Add links to community websites
c. List all the towns on the Trail
3. Use the Parks & Trails New York website as a clearinghouse for roundtable/tourism promotion ideas
Waterford Harbor Visitor Center,
1. More signage needed between Schenectady and Troy
2. Better signage needed in the City of Schenectady- places that the signs direct people to when they must go off the trail are not the best place to ride
3. Post the names and numbers of the tourism agencies on the trail at the entrance to each county so people can call to get information
4. Erect signs on the trail that tell the trail user where they are, i.e. what town or county
5. Erect signs that tell you how far it is to the next community
6. Use the Thruway model for services signs to let the trail user know what services are available in a community
7. Install more kiosks with interpretive signs
8. Open the Canal Coroporation grant process to fund signs – Lakes to Locks Passage and Hudson River Valley Greenway do signage grants
9. Have a sign standard – someone must comply with the standard to get funding
10. Scouts could help with making and putting up signage
1. Educate lock tenders so they know how and where to direct bicyclists and boaters to attractions and services
2. Establish Trail Ambassadors like on the C&O Canal – persons who are easily identified and who can give information and assistance to trail users (could be college student summer job)
3. Package existing services so they are bike friendly
4. Lodging owners should be better informed about what attractions exist beyond their community so they can advise bicyclists on what to see and do in their next day’s travel
5. There should be one agency that coordinates everything all along the trail
6. Consider developing loop trails
7. Montgomery County lacks bike shops and repair shops; closest is in Glenville across the river
8. Montgomery County has few facilities – few cafes and Laundromats
9. Install water faucets on the trail
1. There needs to be a Canalway Trail website
2. Canals New York is marketing the entire canal in New York
3. Parks & Trails New York intends to put its guidebook on line but funding is needed
4. Educate the I Love New York call site - I Love New York has very little on the Canalway Trail – their information comes from the tourist promotion agencies; How many calls to the 1-800 number are looking for cycling information?
5. Information form that businesses/attractions now submit to I Love New York does have a box to check to say whether the attraction is within .5 mile of the Erie Canal
6. Hotels need to think more about their relationship to the trail
7. Schenectady does not spend much on promoting the trail because businesses do not see much income from it
8. Promote the Erie Canalway Trail System rather than just the Canalway Trail
9. Need to keep statistics on user numbers – maybe could capture information on users if they are asked to sign in at businesses
10. Economic impact studies are needed - Could get help from community college hospitality and tourism programs
11. Prepare one-page flier for elected officials and businesses to show them how bicyclists bring business
12. Look at the Wisconsin tourism website
13. Parks & Trails New York should provide businesses and tourist promotion agencies with information on:
• Where to send press releases
• Where and how to market to bike magazines (suggestion to pool funds for a group ad in a magazine like Adventure Cyclist)
1. More signage is needed on the trail to direct people to the communities and their services
2. Recruit clubs and organizations to erect some signage
3. People who want to put signs up on the trail or contribute in other ways need to have information from the Canal Corporation or others on how to do it
4. Bicyclists Bring Business power point on line
1. Lodging is needed in Montgomery County
2. Bicyclists are health conscious, they want healthy sustaining food
3. Bicyclists want to be sure their bikes are protected where they stay overnight
5. Need more accommodations for day trippers and more welcoming places – e.g. showers
6. Need more paved trail in Montgomery County to increase the trail’s accessibility
7. State parks nearby can be an option for showers
8. YMCAs or local gyms and health clubs may be able to provide showers for trail users
9. Amtrak should make more stops at communities along the trail
10. Are there enough beds along the trail?
11. Have a mobile bike repair unit during Cycling the Erie Canal (CTEC)
1. What do CTEC riders know about the area before they come? – Their names are sent to the tourist promotion agencies and they send out information. Each night the riders receive information on where they will be going the next day.
2. Tourist Board should organize an elected officials ride so elected officials can discover what may need to be done to improve access, information, and services for trail users
3. New York State is not promoting itself as a bicycle destination
4. Get legislators to promote New York State and its biking opportunities
5. Investigate cooperative advertising of the Canalway Trail
6. Montgomery County has a lot of miles; need to plan events throughout the year along the trail
Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, NY, June 3, 2009
Participants presented the following ideas that could be implemented to further accommodate and build awareness of the importance of bicycle tourists.
- People generally not well informed about market potential of bicycle tourism
- Tourism professionals need to inform themselves on which businesses in community are bike-friendly and just what that means
- How do we educate business people about needs/desires of cyclists and potential value of meeting them? Funding needed to do this
- How do all roundtable attendees communicate with one another? Many people are doing similar work; need to coordinate and know what is available elsewhere
- Signage for finding trails is important and must be in a conspicuous location (e.g., not 15 feet up on a utility pole)
- Want to connect Warren County Bikeway with Feeder Canal Trail; need clear signage, bike lanes or paths
- How can we tap into 5-1-1 telephone information system? Apparently there is some info available now on bike trails
- Businesses that want to cater to bicyclists must be prepared to ship purchases
- Convenient means to transport bikes on other modes of transportation is needed (on buses, taxis, etc.) Perhaps run biker-only trolleys less frequently? Much interest in ways to transport bikes conveniently & safely.
- Amtrak should take bikes
- BOCES students made bike racks for all businesses in one community
- Convenient and easy-to-find parking for trail users is important
- Warren County has a guide and website with a section on bicycling
- In one community, filming of bike trails is underway and finished product will be posted on website and made available on CD
- Bike races draw lots of people
- There is a need for greater visibility of biking opportunities
- Need signs for bike trails on Interstate highways
- One trail can help other nearby trails through connections and cross-promotion
- How do we get people coming to a community for biking (or other reason) to stay longer? One possible solution: one-stop website that allows people to see all attractions/facilities, make reservations, etc. Adventure-Junction.com will do this
- Should also work to get more local residents out using trails, not just focus on bringing people in from “away”
- More local families have been seen on the trails during this economic downturn; it can be a good time for cycling businesses
- Bicycle tourism adds 5 months to the business season
- How do we reach people via Web 2.0 media? How do we inform people about web resources?
- Trails in one area need to be connected to trails and systems in other nearby areas
- Some existing designated bike routes (e.g., Bike Rt 9) are on undesirable roads in places
- One bike shop owner’s experience is that road bikers want paved trails; stone dust can be hard on equipment
- Cyclists in large numbers (e.g., for a race) sometimes seen as inconvenience on roads; have to educate community about economic value; information in this session needs to reach a broader audience
- Could a CD of parts of the presentation be included with the trails marketing guide that Parks & Trails New York is developing?
- Tapping into cycling tourism requires only modest investment at individual business level
- Grant opportunity open now – “Blueprint Grants” – that could be used for bike racks Information is available at http://empire.state.ny.us/UpstateDownstateFund/default.asp
- Send participant list to all those who signed in or registered!