Bike Friendly Brockport: First Empire State Trail Town
As a trail user, wouldn't you choose to stop in a Trail Town?
Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC) developed the Empire State Trail Town program to demonstrate the value of the 750-mile Empire State Trail as an economic driver and a catalyst for community building. With the trail’s completion in 2020, the Erie Canalway Trail— the east-west leg of the statewide system— is poised to serve as one of the state’s premier recreation destinations.
Inspired by the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Town program, and building on successful efforts by New York State to invest in the Canal corridor through the Reimagine the Canals Initiative, the Empire State Trail Town program will showcase how the Erie Canalway Trail can support and enhance economic development along the canal corridor, foster a local trail culture, and attract and support local tourism and the outdoor recreation economy.
This year, the Village of Brockport was selected as the first Empire State Trail Town. The “Victorian Village on the Erie Canal” has a strong community identity tied to the Erie Canal and the Erie Canalway Trail. Brockport boasts a dedicated network of stakeholders invested in improving access to nearby recreation opportunities, creating safe places for pedestrians and cyclists, and working with local leaders to increase the visibility of the canalway trail system as a recreation destination.
A core team of steering committee members, made up of municipal staff, the Brockport Welcome Center, and Walk!Bike!Brockport, will help build on these efforts by working with PTNY and the NYSCC to develop a long-term action plan. The action plan will offer short and long-term recommendations to help local stakeholders attract and profit from the growing bicycle tourism market, strengthen the strong partnerships developed during the year, create safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians during the Main Street bridge closure and beyond, and drive trail users to Main Street businesses.
The public is invited to participate in a “Trail Town Chat” on Monday, May 23, 2022 and a 7-mile bike ride around Brockport on May 24, 2022. Both of these events will allow residents to share their thoughts and ideas on accessibility, equity, community engagement, beautification, and infrastructure. The bike ride is open to people of all ages and abilities, proceeding at a “party pace” of no more than 8-10 MPH. The ride will end at the Welcome Center with pizza provided by Mark’s Pizzeria, music, and good conversation. Feedback collected during these events will be a core component of the action plan, helping to identify the Village’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities as a Trail Town.
In addition to the action plan, the Empire State Trail Town program will help establish a welcoming presence along the Canalway Trail by identifying stewards to assume the role of “trail adopters” and “ambassadors.” As a core component of this program, stewards will assume primary responsibility for routine maintenance along the Erie Canalway Trail throughout the season, offering a safe and enjoyable experience for users. As ambassadors, stewards serve as the “eyes and ears” of the Erie Canalway Trail, and will be responsible for offering basic assistance to trail users, including directions and recommendations for local attractions and lodging. Recruiting a group of local stewards will ensure that the surrounding trail network is well-maintained, inviting, and that the local heritage and cultural significance of the Canal corridor is conveyed to all users.
PTNY and the Village will work collaboratively to create a roadmap for future “shovel-ready” projects, associated funding sources, and programming that can further the goals of the program. The Village is currently pursuing funding to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and safety, and increase access to recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. With the completion of the Brockport Loop and a covered performance pavilion, Brockport will have the opportunity to attract new trail users by hosting nearby events and community gatherings.
This effort will bring together a diverse set of voices, helping create new opportunities for collaboration. By soliciting feedback from the public, civic groups, the business community, and local organizations, PTNY will provide the Village with innovative ways to increase the frequency with which Brockport residents walk or bike as their main mode of transportation, and increase the number of long-distance canalway trail travelers who choose Brockport for an overnight stay, and spend money at retail businesses as part of their trip.For more information about the Trail Town program visit www.ptny.org/EmpireStateTrailTowns. To get involved in Brockport contact Erica Linden (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rebecca Murray (email@example.com), or Sasha Del Peral (Sasha.DelPeral@canals.ny.gov).
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