We helped Mainstreet Lockport host three Bike & Dine events this summer and fall to raise money for new wayfinding signs on the I&M Canal Trail.
Like most Illinois towns (unfortunately), Lockport had thought little about turning trail users into visitors/customers/business owners/residents, and Mainstreet invited us out to help them up Lockport’s appeal as an I&M Canal Trail users’ destination.
Trails for Illinois used the easy-to-plan and popular Bike & Dine, a progressive dinner by bike, to showcase to trail users what Lockport had to offer. We split the revenue with Mainstreet so they could purchase these signs, which now invite all trail users to venture a block or two off the path to dine, shop, and spend a little time with this historic river town.
Trails for Illinois is an expert on how Illinois communities can build on the Triple Bottom Line benefits of trails. I bet we can help your town, too. Drop me a line.
Bike & Dine, Lockport!, a set on Flickr.
National Trails Day was well met by Bike & Dine, Lockport! today. Pitch perfect weather, a historic community, a national trail corridor and three amazing restaurants conspired to showcase the possibilities in Illinois trail towns for trail-based tourism and economic development.
Half of the funds raised will purchase way finding signs along Lockport’s I&M Trail that will help trail users explore the historical sites and lovely shops of Lockport’s downtown. The other half will support Trails for Illinois’ work with Illinois communities to leverage their trail connections for economic development and a higher quality of life.
Our biggest, loudest thanks to Tallgrass, Mangia, and Public Landing for AMAZING cuisine and service. And to Mainstreet Lockport and Lynn & Tom Sperling, who coordinated the restaurants and our route.
Enjoy the photos!
Join us on Bike & Dine, Lockport!
Biking. Eating. A national heritage trail. Historic limestone buildings. The AAA 4 diamond rated Tallgrass Restaurant. Trails help us live life to its fullest, and in Lockport on June 2, oh, we shall live fully.
More info here (and share this link!): http://trailsforillinois.tumblr.com/bikeanddine
MyWebTimes reports that the IDNR reopened the 5 mile section of the I&M Canal Trail between Ottawa and Utica yesterday while the courts figure out whether to let Buffalo Range Shooting Park open for the season.
Currently the courts have issued an injunction temporarily preventing the range from opening, and the IDNR has used the opportunity to invite trail users back.
Of course, the shooting range was closed all winter, and so was the trail.
IDNR director Marc Miller says that the trail could close again if safety concerns arise. That hardly restores the trail’s allure as a corridor for tourism—how do you plan a visit on a trail that can close with the first phone call reporting “I think I heard a gun shot?”
We’re glad the IDNR has opened the gates, but we’ll be following the court case. The IDNR has shown that it holds the prerogative to keep the trail open, not the courts or the Attorney General (which we thought might have been the case).
On behalf of trail users and all the I&M Canal communities, we hope they can find their way to a permanent restoration of the I&M Canal Trail before summer.
This fella’s walking the wrong way with his wallet to do Utica or LaSalle/Peru any good—what choice does he have? The I&M Canal Trail closure at Buffalo Rock State Park is likely turning back hundreds of westbound trail users a month.
And for what? We drove out to Buffalo Range Shooting Park, and it’s closed for the season. No one is shooting there. Why is the I&M Canal Trail still closed?
Even imagining the range open…we can’t see it. We can’t see any more risk to trail users than to the thousands of drivers along County Road 34, running next to the trail. The road is open. Why isn’t the trail?
Shouldn’t the gun range be closed if it’s a danger?
We ate at the wonderfully creaky Duffy’s in Utica—you can get there if you drive. The bartender told us that business dropped noticeably when the trail closed, and Duffy’s needs the trail business during the the season to get through the winter; a slow summer made this winter tough. The servers at August Hill wine tasting gave the same testimony. Closing the I&M trail is hurting Utica, LaSalle, and very likely the towns to the east because the journey has less allure—there’s no destination.
IDNR is embracing the economic potential of developing trails and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Millennium Reserve. Good move. But we want you to be consistent. You are starving the I&M Canal communities who have bought into trail-based tourism.
And we want the state to obey the law. Federal law prohibits a state from indefinitely closing transportation projects funded with federal money. The penalty: Illinois could be required to retroactively pay back the federal funds that built it…and lose future federal transportation funding.
We’re going to push this, at least to have IDNR or the Attorney General’s office explain the justification for the trail’s closure in light of federal law prohibiting that.
What do you think? If you’ve been out on the I&M Canal Trail or at the gun range, are trail users in danger?