From Sunday September 24 Valley News
From Sunday September 24 Valley News
Around the country, communities large and small are boldly implementing active transportation strategies to make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to connect to their destinations by being physically active.
In Portland, OR, one of four Platinum Level Bicycle Friendly Communities (along with Boulder & Fort Collins, CO and Davis, CA), transportation and bicycle program officials have been at work for over 20 years, and have learned a few things about what makes a city bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
As part of the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community Program, these and hundreds of other communities, universities, states, and businesses are changing the way we design transportation systems, which directly impacts our choices for how we get around town to do errands, go to school, work, and play.
Lucky for us, Portland has created a handy brochure that outlines strategies that create a more safe, inclusive, and holistic active transportation system. Some improvements are relatively easy, like making a map of the city’s active transportation system, painting the roads with bicycle boxes, adding symbols for sharing the road with bicycles (sharrows), and selecting low speed, low traffic volume streets to designate as bicycle boulevards. Other treatments are more expensive, like bike/ped friendly bridges, bicycle traffic signals at intersections, and constructing separated pathways like the Mascoma River Greenway.
I recently had the good fortune to participate in one of Portland’s “Sunday Parkways” events, which draw thousands of people each year to bicycle and walk between parks, enjoying food, music and activities on a system of streets that are closed to cars. What fun!
Maybe someday Lebanon will join Concord and Keene, and achieve a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation – who knows?
Frank Gould and Paul Coats, our Coalition Co-Chairs, were on hand to share a description of the MRG, and provide an update on our progress – a lot has been accomplished! Of course, all 25 people in attendance were invited to the historic MRG Work Day on Saturday, June 1.
Good going MRG and UV HEAL – working together we’ll achieve the vitally important connection between Lebanon and West Lebanon to promote healthy and active transportation and recreation!
Advocates for bicycling and pedestrian safety and community connectivity realize that good things take time. That’s why patience and persistence are key qualities for anyone who is inspired to be part of the human powered transportation and recreation movement.
In her new book, Mia Burke, the City of Portland, Oregon’s first Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator (imagine a paid position focusing on advancing bicycle and pedestrian initiatives!), outlines what it takes to accomplish great things in moving active transportation and recreation projects forward, despite challenging odds like lack of funding and a culture of car-centric transportation planning.
Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet tells the dramatic and enlightening behind-the-scenes story of how a group of determined visionaries transformed Portland, OR into a cycling mecca and inspired the nation. Through a panoply of hilarious and poignant stories, author Mia Birk takes readers on a 20-year rollercoaster journey of global and local discovery and education, while bringing into sharp focus some of the planet’s most pressing and hotly debated energy and transportation issues, policies, shortcomings, and solutions.
Ask your library or local bookstore to stock a copy of Joyride and take it for a spin. It will help you understand the big picture visionary thinking that’s necessary to implement bicycle & pedestrian improvements, one small project at a time.
With the formal acceptance of the Rail Trail Agreement by the City and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation last summer, the Mascoma River Greenway Coalition has been given the green light to continue development that will extend the current pedestrian/bicycle path from Lebanon to West Lebanon.
Once completed, the Mascoma River Greenway will be a four-mile pathway along the former Boston & Maine Railroad corridor that will connect Lebanon and West Lebanon residents to schools, neighborhoods, recreation, work, shopping, a medical center, transit stops and cultural activities. The MRG will eventually run from the current terminus of the Northern Rail Trail at Spencer Street in Lebanon to 12-A and Seminary Hill in West Lebanon.
“Frankly, we can use a lot of extra help,” Coats said. “I’m sure there are people who would want to be part of this project, so they could tell their children and grandchildren that they helped with the construction of the path which they all use and enjoy.” Volunteer work may include everything from helping to publicize the project and solicit donations to clearing brush from the path.
If you are interested in either making a monetary donation, or if you or your business is interested in creating a volunteer work crew for the project, contact Coats at 603-448-5121 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Coalition’s Citizen Chairman, Frank Gould, at 603-448-1660.
Here is a bit of news from our friends at the Friends of the Northern Rail Trail Grafton County.
Rails to Trails Conservancy is going to feature the Northern Rail Trail as the “Trail of the Month” on their web site and in their e-newsletter, for the month of March. Thank you Rails to Trails Conservancy!
Here’s a link to the RTC website to check it out.
Also the Danbury Country Store across from the Danbury trailhead on High Street at NH Rte 4 has changed hands and will feature a sandwich shop when it reopens after renovations are completed. Well-loved Bristol restauranteur Audrey Pellegrino will run the shop. Yay! We love stopping there for refreshment while riding or walking that stretch of the rail trail. Congratulations Phelps clan.
If you haven’t explored the downtown Lebanon section of the Mascoma River Greenway, grab your skis, snowshoes, a few of your closest friends, and a dog if you have one and check it out. With good snow cover, this short section of trail makes for an excellent out and back winter journey on flat terrain. At the APD end, you can walk over to the new APD trails behind Harvest Hill, a sweet network of gently rolling trails designed by the Upper Valley’s own Morton Trails.
And if you’re wondering about the health benefits of cross-country skiing, here’s what WebMD has to say:
“For building endurance, cross-country skiing is one of the best sports you can do,” says Stephen Olvey, MD, an associate professor of clinical neurological surgery at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. It also burns more calories than almost any other activity.
Cross-country skiing is an aerobic sport. That means you move nonstop for an extended period of time while your heart pumps oxygen to your muscles, providing them with energy. “It is about grinding it out over the long haul with no help from gravity,” Olvey says.
The muscles strengthened while you cross-country ski vary with your skiing style. But they typically include the thigh muscles, gluteus maximus (bottom), gastrocnemius (calves), and biceps and triceps (front and back of the upper arm).
In terms of calories, a 150-pound person burns about 500 to 640 calories per hour while cross-country skiing, depending on the effort level.
Here are Olvey’s tips for getting started: