Trails for Illinois supporters Gary and Judy W. are on a mission to GPS every trail in Illinois from their recumbent trike tandem. But when the trail’s too short to make unloading the trike worth the bother, Gary scoots it! Check out the Garmin slung around his neck.
He used to walk the short segments, “but I got to thinking it would be nice to transit them a little faster than that,” writes Gary. “Then I thought, Why not a scooter? Looked around; did my research; bought; rode. It’s perfect in every way.”
Gary and Judy upload their data, photo and experiences to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Traillink.com. Follow this link to see the trails Gary & Judy have covered in the last year. What a great service to Illinois trails, and what a fantastic life!
A different conversation for trails in Illinois
The public release of Making Trails Count in Illinois is tomorrow, March 30, when the download link goes live at http://trailsforillinois.org/maketrailscount. There’s a very limited number of print copies available; contact me if you’d like one.
Release day is also Opening Day for Trails for our partner Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. RTC staff will be attending special events on trails nationwide tomorrow; look for RTC’s Dan Persky on the Illinois Prairie Path.
Opening Day and Making Trails Count in Illinois both kick off a weeklong focus on trails, walking and biking’s health benefits by the Partnership for Active Transportation during National Public Health Week. We’re so proud of Making Trails Count’s contribution to that effort.
And over the next month, you’ll find Trails for Illinois presenting Making Trails Count at the International Trails Symposium, April 14-17 in Phoenix, AZ; for the keynote at Friends of the Pumpkinvine Trail’s annual luncheon on April 25 in Goshen, IN; at the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation in Homewood, IL on April 26; and—this just in—for the keynote at the Illinois Bike Summit in Normal, IL, May 15.
We set out to have a different conversation with Illinois about trails and their role in improving our communities and our lives and even the way we view our state. With Making Trails Count in Illinois, I feel like the conversation has begun.
Reader, I want you to think right now about joining us at Trails for Illinois. This organization has had a long, quiet history that closes today. As the profile of trails in Illinois rises, so our numbers must rise to turn the changing perspective on trails into action.
Will you please consider joining us, here at the beginning of a new trails movement in Illinois? You can click here; it’s simple and secure.
We are grateful for the weeks to come. May your home be your trailhead.
Steve Buchtel, Executive Director
Making trail counting count
That’s Jeremy Robinett in the picture above, doctoral candidate at University of Illinois and research assistant with the Office of Recreation and Park Resources (ORPR). Jeremy is the lead analyst for Making Trails Count, and has studied the data from nearly 800 surveys collected by our amazing survey collection teams and on-line. I tried to stage a photo that made him look busy analyzing data. Instead he looks to be having a pleasant conversation with Microsoft Windows. I will stay out of the stock photo business.
Jeremy and the ORPR have begun sharing some initial observations about our data collected from trail users that frankly is very difficult to sit on. The data describes relationships between trail use and benefits to Illinois’ economy, its natural environment, its people. In the context of the total number of trail users we counted—numbers that are likely to be eye opening for most—with help from Rails to Trails Conservancy, we are very likely to start a new conversation about trails’ role in Illinois quality of life.
So why sit on it? Because the findings are preliminary, mostly. Our target publishing date is February 2013. If you gave to Making Trails Count—like Mike Hanley, John Wilson, Eberhard Veit, Pat Weseloh, Michael Longo, Robin Hall all did, generously—you’ll be the first to receive a copy of the report. You can get on that list (and get one of our cool trailhead stickers) by making a year-end contribution to Trails for Illinois. Do this now.
Meanwhile, some of the data will be sneaking into my presentations for the rest of this year. I’m speaking at the Quad Cities Riverfront Council meeting tomorrow in Davenport at noon, Friends of the Hennepin Canal this Thursday at the Hennepin Canal Visitor Center in Sheffield, 6:30 PM, and at Friends of the Rock Island Trail meeting December 5 at Avanti’s in East Peoria, 6 PM. Come on out! If you want to ride with me (leaving from Chicago south suburbs), I’d enjoy the company.
Why attend the IL-APA conference this September?
One word: Trestle.
From our draft Illinois American Planning Association session description—
“The Triple Bottom Line of Trails: The Kickapoo Rail Trail’s impact on People, Planet & Profit
Trails return benefits to Illinois on a Triple Bottom Line – economic activity, environmental stewardship, and quality of life. Trails developed to maximize the Triple Bottom Line return the most on the public’s investment. Steve Buchtel, Trails for Illinois, and Tim Bartlett, Urbana Park District, lead participants on a tour of the anticipated Kickapoo Rail Trail connecting Urbana’s award-winning bicycle network to Kickapoo State and Danville. The tour follows the abandoned rail corridor through the agricultural landscape, with stops to explore the potential for tourism, economic development, conservation, and lifestyle changes. We will also do a 1.5 mile-hike through Kickapoo State Park (so wear good walking shoes) and end at the picturesque trestle bridge across the Vermillion River Valley.”
More conference info here.
Read this, particularly Day 3, and I dare you to tell me three things:
- You’d never climb a trestle to get close-up video of an Illinois coal train
- You don’t want to ride or run the Tunnel Hill State Trail in Southwest Illinois
- You think Illinois does a fine job inviting the world to visit our trails and the communities they connect
Bruce Gunn’s photo-rich journal of his tour (that’s Bruce above) with riding companion John Voelz is just flat out good travel reading, humorous, informative, enjoyable. We want Trails for Illinois to be a home for stories like this. The website we’re building—have been building—offers journals and photo galleries to trail users like Bruce, and some really slick map stuff. We all have amazing trail experiences to share—they’ll be powerful invitations for the world to come share them with us.
crazyguyonabike.com, where Bruce’s story lives with dozens more, certainly gets a link. Maybe a place of honor.
Day 3 is Tunnel Hill State Trail and “Hey, there’s a train coming” day.