In September the Bicycle Coalition participated in the biennial Eastern PA Greenways and Trails Summit. This regional summit alternates with the Pennsylvania Greenways and Trails Summit. This year’s summit was held at the State Theater in Easton and brings together trail advocates, planners and managers from Eastern Pennsylvania.
An Overview of Attended Sessions
Montgomery and Bucks County presented on design and construction lessons learned from the Newtown and Pennypack Rail Trails. A major problem with the construction were solving the severe erosion issues that existed on the railbed and after construction was completed. Both trails also featured some of the most advanced road crossings for trails in the state on County Line and Byberry Roads.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) presented on e-bike access to state park and forest lands (e.g. not on State Gamelands or the Allegheny National Forest). DCNR has proposed policies for e-bike access to non-motorized trails including hard-surfaced regional trails that allow any class of e-bike as long as the motor-assisted speed does not exceed 20 miles per hour. E-bikes are already permitted on most motorized trails and public roads.
One of the most interesting presentations was advancing the development of Adaptive kayak launches. Designed with the assistance of people with disabilities which has the side benefit of making it easier for anyone to safely launch a kayak. A few of these launchers will be added soon on Boathouse Row.
Gretchen Snethen with Park RX presented on the health benefits of trails and parks including an overview of their Park Prescription program. The program is designed in collaboration between park and public land agencies, healthcare providers and community partners. The program is focused on encouraging their patients/clients to spend time in nature to improve their health and well-being while creating spaces that are inviting for all.
A discussion on the impact of green spaces on well-being was moderated by the founder of Reset Outdoors, Connor Moriarty. The panel provided excellent conversations on the importance of reconnecting with nature but also the importance of creating open spaces that are inviting to the communities they serve. Members of the panel shared successful experiences that brought their communities together in a meaningful and impactful way.
An overview of the Get Your Tail on the Trail concluded the presentations on connecting trails and health. The program was created in 2013 by St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor in eastern PA. Ken Szydlow with St. Luke’s University provided an overview of the wildly successful program that encourages people of all ages and abilities to meet their personal fitness goals and experience the outdoors on local trails via day-to-day challenges, public events and motivating prizes.
An exciting part of the conference are the mobile workshops to see new and upcoming trail projects. Some Participants explored new segments of the D&L Trail Corridor closing the gap between southern and northern halves of the trail corridor. The second group visited segments of the Two Rivers Trail, which when completed will connect the D&L Trail in Easton with Northampton County’s Slate Belt region near the Appalachian Trail. All of these trail segments are closing gaps in THE LINK Trail Network.
In Bushkill Township, participants hiked the Ballas Meadow Preserve. The preserve contains multi-use trails, has two acre fishing ponds, a pavilion and overlook area. A map of the preserve can be access here. We highly recommended a visit for anyone who is interested in bird watching or learning more about the native plant species of Pennsylvania.