Last week, the Bicycle Coalition joined over 40 participants from across the country for the 2023 Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives (CRTI) conference in Pittsburgh, PA. This year’s theme for the conference was centered on A Legacy of Inspiration, Impact and Innovation: Bringing us Together to Create a Bright Future, with focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) initiatives that benefit everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, and economic means by providing safe access to the outdoors; health benefits; recreation; alternatives to automobile travel, thereby reducing negative environmental impacts; and ways of connecting with neighbors.

The 40+ Trail Networks that were Represented at the 2023 CRTI Conference

This year’s CRTI conference was thoughtfully designed by including on-site programming at various locations in Pittsburgh. To learn more about the trails and progress made in the Pittsburgh area, the Bicycle Coalition joined participants for Building a Stronger Hazelwood through Inclusive Community Development and the Economic Impacts of Trails and Activating Trail Use in Etna.

In Hazelwood, the overview and presentation of the riverfront master plan and community engagement process was led by Amy Camp with Cycle Forward, Dave Brewton with the Hazelwood Initiative, and JaQuay Carter with the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society of Pittsburgh. For project context and lay of the land, the riverfront is part of a larger 178-acre brownfield site, Hazelwood Green, that’s being converted into a mixed-use development.

JaQuay Carter leading the business district walking tour in Hazelwood

Much of Hazelwood’s riverfront is privately owned by Almono who partnered with Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) to seek a Department of Natural Resources (DCNR) grant to produce a riverfront plan. With the grant approved, Environmental Planning & Design was selected to produce the plan. Cycle Forward was brought on to lead community engagement efforts, conduct stakeholder interviews, and coordinate with the project advisory committee. These initiatives have shaped the future of this neighborhood’s trails through community engagement, place making by incorporating the neighborhood’s rich industrial and ethnic history while aiming to improve the quality of life in Greater Hazelwood. For more information on the Hazelwood Riverfront project head over to Cycleforward’s resource page.

In Etna, participants learned about the economic impacts of trails and experiences with activating trail use in the neighborhood from Mary Ellen Ramage, the Borough Manager of Etna and Curan Bonham with the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Etna is located along the Allegheny River and is situated 6 miles upstream from downtown Pittsburgh with a population of nearly 4,000. Following the short talks held by the borough manager and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, we joined participants for a tour of the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park, its challenges and the story behind reestablishing the lost link between the Allegheny River and the neighborhood. Leading the tour to Etna’s Riverfront Trail and Park was AJ Schwartz with Environmental Planning and Design who was involved with the project’s master plan.

For an overview of the Etna Riverfront Trail and Park project, be sure to read the ArcGIS StoryMap for conceptual designs, challenges, final design and the end results of the project.

Special thanks to Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the planning team for making this year’s 2023 CRTI conference an insightful and memorable experience! We are already looking forward to next year’s conference.

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