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You are viewing 33 posts by the author Nick Mirra

A Love Note to the Schuylkill River Trail

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Philly Love Notes is a website devoted to just that - love notes to a place or aspect of Philadelphia, written by residents new and old. This week's Love Note was written by Poly Math (a pen name) to the Schuylkill River Trail, and features some lovely photographs of the views from Schuylkill Banks.

You can read the full love note here.

Update on the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk

JULY 1, 2013 - Christine Fisher, writing for PlanPhilly/, provides an update on the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. The Boardwalk will connect the current terminus of the Schuylkill River Trail at Locust St with the South Street Bridge. Current estimated completion is fall 2014.

Read the article here.

58th Street Greenway Opens

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The 58th Street Greenway had its official ribbon cutting on Saturday, June 8th. The Philadelphia Inquirer and PlanPhilly were on hand to cover the event, which was commemorated by Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, Senator Anthony Williams, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and Councilman Jannie Blackwell.

PlanPhilly's Christine Fisher explained the trail's significance

After more than three years of planning, more than a year of construction and ongoing community involvement, the 58th Street Greenway opened Saturday. The 1.5 mile, $3.5 million trail provides a critical link between the Cobbs Creek Trail, Bartram's Garden and the trails beyond. As community and project leaders stressed though, the trail is more than a connection. It is a vote of confidence in the South West Philadelphia, Kingsessing neighborhood.

The Inquirer's coverage is here. You can see more photos of the ribbon cutting at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's Facebook page.

PA and NJ Trail Caucus Meetings Coming In June

On behalf of The Circuit Coalition, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia invites you to the launch of the Circuit Commitment Campaign.

We are bringing together trail enthusiasts and supporters like you for two informational sessions in June (one for PA, one for NJ). These caucus meetings are the kickoff to the Circuit Commitment Campaign.

The Circuit Commitment Campaign's goal is to replenish the DVRPC (Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission)'s Regional Trail Fund, which is a competitive grant program established by the William Penn Foundation in 2010. The fund is distributing nearly $10 million in our nine-county region, and is helping plan, design and build nearly 40 miles of trail.

This grant program, if continued, could have a major impact on our trails! So we need people like you, who want to see The Circuit's unfinished trails built, to encourage County Commissioners (in Pennsylvania) & Freeholders (in New Jersey) to allocate a second $10 million for the years 2014-2016. This money will continue the momentum of that first grant cycle, moving us closer to realizing the vision of a region connected by a world-class network of bike-ped trails: The Circuit.

Get involved in creating new trails for your community by attending your state's trail caucus!

The Pennsylvania Caucus
June 17th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Haverford Community, Recreation & Environmental Center
Register to attend here

New Jersey Caucus
June 19th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Camden County Boathouse
Register to attend here

The Pennsylvania Caucus meeting will provide an overview of the next set of Circuit trails currently under development in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia Counties.

The New Jersey Caucus meeting will provide an overview of the next set of Circuit trails currently under development in Mercer, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties.

At each meeting, we will also discuss the campaign goal and how you can help get this trail funding secured.

A Tale of Two Cities (RAILS TO TRAILS)

The Rails to Trails Conservancy profiled Philadelphia and Pittsburgh's growing urban trail systems, and the Gray's Ferry Crescent received some special attention.

You can read the full article here:

Advocates Push for Bicycling and Walking in PA Transportation Funding (NBC10)

Friday, April 5, 2013 - Nice coverage from NCB10 Philadelphia about The Circuit in the context of possible Pennsylvania legislation which would establish a dedicated state fund for bicycling and walking projects.

Schuylkill River Sojourn Opens Registration

The Schuylkill River Sojourn is a 7-day, 112-mile guided paddle from Schuylkill Haven to Boathouse Row in Philadelphia that is organized annually by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.  Participants can register for one day or the entire week. 
The 2013 Sojourn theme is The Schuylkill During the Civil War.
New this year! During the first two weeks in April we will accept registrations from full-trip registrants only.  This is being done to ensure that people who wish do the full trip don't miss out on the first two days, which fill up very quickly.
Registration for all other participants will open April 15! 
For the first time this year we are offering online registration. After you register online, you will still need to download several waivers and medical forms that must be filled out and mailed in with original signatures. Links to these forms will be available on your registration confirmation form. They can also be found on our website at
  • If you do not wish to register online, you can download a registration form from our website and mail or fax it to us.
  • Our 2013 Sojourn outfitter is Doug Chapman, owner of Take it Outdoors Adventure Group.
  • Our guides will once again be Alan and Betsy Quant from Canoe Susquehanna
For more information, or to view photos of past sojourns, click here or call the Schuylkill River Heritage Area at 484-945-0200.

Shawmont Trail Ribbon Cutting In The News

Last Thursday the new section of the Schuylkill River Trail, located along Nixon Street in Shawmont, opened with notable speakers and an enthusiasic crowd. Mayor Michael Nutter, Congressman Chaka Fattah, State Representative Pam DeLissio, Councilman Curtis Jones Jr, and Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis were all on hand for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Congressman Fattah arrived at the event on bicycle (see photo above).

The event received press attention from both WHYY Newsworks and the Roxborough Review.

See Newsworks coverage here.

See Roxborough Review's coverage here.

New Renderings Released Of Bartram's Mile Trail

PennPraxis has released conceptual renderings of one of Philadelphia's most eagerly-awaited sections of the Schuylkill River Trail and East Coast Greenway. Known as Bartram's Mile North and Bartram's Mile South, these trails will connect Bartram's Gardens to the Gray's Ferry Crescent and give Southwest Philadelphia much better access to its riverfront.
These renderings are preliminary and based upon a first round of design and public input. So the ultimate designs could change dramatically from what is depicted here. Further detailed work was briefly held up by the William Penn Foundation's temporary suspension of grants to the City of Philadelphia, but PennPraxis now expects to begin the next stage of design in May.
See below for some of the images released this week. You can learn more about the project at PlanPhilly's page devoted to the work.
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Wm. Penn Foundation Suspends Grants to City (INQUIRER)

Feburary 13, 2013 - The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the William Penn Foundation has suspended grants to city-related agencies. This affects the funding for Bartram's Mile.

Link to the article below:

Schuylkill Project Shoots for 2014 Manayunk Bridge Trail Completion (NEWSWORKS)

WHYY NewsWorks provides updates on the Manayunk Bridge and other trail projects happening around Manayunk. The big  news: the current timeline for the Manayunk Bridge has the project being completed middle of 2014.

Read the full story here.

News Roundup: Trails Funded and Trails Cleaned

The Circuit in the news recently:

Job Opening: Philly Area Urban Trails Organizer

The Student Conservation Association and the Scattergood Foundation are seeking an Urban Trails Organizer Intern from the Philadelphia region to work with the surrounding community to identify projects, engage community members and develop an urban trail and outreach plan.  This is a full time paid 12-month position.
Start date: 2/11/13 (flexible)
Benefits: $200/week stipend; $500/month housing allowance; $40/week commuting allowance; eligible for 12-month Americorps Education Award of $5550 and medical coverage/insurance
Position Code: PO-00199247
The Scattergood Foundation is situated on 125 protected acres in North Philadelphia that backs up to Tacony Creek Park.  The wooded park land includes rolling hills, trails a creek and riparian area.  The Scattergood Campus also includes the Friends Hospital, designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior.  While most work will take place on the property a lot of emphasis will be placed on outreach to community members from the surrounding neighborhoods, encouraging safe and healthy use of the property which will be open to the public.  The specific location is 4641 Roosevelt Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19124.
The intern will work directly with staff at the Scattergood Foundation and the surrounding community to identify projects, engage community members, and develop a trail and outreach plan for the Scattergood property. The intern will also work closely with SCA’s Philadelphia Community Program, overseeing SCA summer and year round crews and volunteers who will be completing the trail projects. 
The outputs of the project will include:
• The construction and development of an urban trail that will run through the property of the Foundation, which will connect various existing trails and will provide access to the watershed for individuals. 
• The improvement of the existing storm water system on the Foundation’s property. This portion of the project is to be supported by the Philadelphia Roots to Reentry Program. 
• The construction and development of a wetlands boardwalk to be used by the Tookany-Tacony Watershed Partnership for educational programs.
• The development of a replicable model for other organizations to use that includes details of the urban trail development, improvement to the storm water system and the development of the wetlands boardwalk. The model will also address components of evaluation, maintenance, and sustainability.
For more information about SCA internships and benefits go to:
For more information contact: Rachel Lettre, [email protected]
Tags: job opening

First Public Look at Future Bartram's Garden Trails This Weekend

An exciting new development in Philadelphia's ongoing reclamation of old industrial land will be on display this weekend. The parcels of land on the north and south sides of Bartram's Garden, dubbed "Bartram's Mile," will be converted into trail connecting the Garden to the Schuylkill River Trail and The Circuit. These parcels will be open to the public for the first time this weekend.

Join us this Saturday for a guided bike tour of these future trails and the adjacent 58th St Greenway. On Sunday, you can take the same guided tour by foot.

Saturday, November 3rd - Guided bike tour
Start: 1:30 pm
Starting location: Bartram's Community Farm
Locations visited: Gypsum site, 58th St Greenway, Schuylkill River Trail at Bartram's, and National Heat & Power site.

Sunday, November 4th - Guided walking tour
Start: 2:00 pm
Starting location: Bartram's Garden trail head
Locations visited: same as above

Take the tour to learn how the Parks and Rec. Dept will develop the off-road route from the Gray's Ferry Bridge to Bartram's Garden, and from Bartram's Garden south along the Schuylkill.

The northern parcel is formerly known as the "National Heat and Power" site and the southern plot is the "Gypsum/Transmontaigne" site. Both are owned by the Philadelphia Development Industrial Corporation, which is deeding river frontage over to the Parks and Rec Dept to create new trails.

Note: the original version of this post was published on the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's blog.

Media Update on Two New Additions to The Circuit

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One important piece of The Circuit opened to the public in the past few days, and another had its official groundbreaking. 

On Saturday, the Connector Bridge crossing the tracks at Schuylkill River Park officially opened. On time and under budget, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has previously written extensively about the project.

The bridge opening gathered extensive press attention as well, from The Inquirer, the Daily PennsylvanianFlying Kite, and PlanPhilly.

On Monday, a new trail on Philadelphia's other river broke ground in Port Richmond. The aptly-named Port Richmond Trail will help connect people to the Delaware River and add more mileage onto the 250+ miles of bike/ped trail already built in The Circuit. U.S. Rep Allyson Schwartz, who helped secure the federal TIGER grant funding the project, attended the ceremony.

Media coverage for the groundbreaking included CBS 3-KYWWHYY NewsworksPlanPhilly, and the Abington Patch. The trail is expected to be completed by September 2013.

The Connector Bridge Arrives After 8 Years Of Work

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An eight year saga is coming to an end this month. In 2004, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia joined a campaign to "Free Schuylkill River Park." The goal was keeping open two railroad track crossings providing river access at Race and Locust Streets in Philadelphia. Eight years later, the campaign is culminating with the finishing touches being placed on a new Connector Bridge crossing the tracks into an improved Schuylkill River Park. The ribbon cutting for the work is happening on Saturday, October 20th at 1:00pm (rain or shine) with Mayor Michael Nutter.
The saga began as a pitched battle between Center City West residents wanting access to a long-awaited riverfront park, and a huge corporation refusing to complicate its operations. It is concluding as an optimistic tale of how good things can happen when residents get organized, elected officials listen and are supportive, and corporations decide to find a way to be good neighbors.
History of the Campaign
The campaign to Free Schuylkill River Park involved organizing a diverse coalition of civic organizations and user groups (including bicyclists) to take advantage of the unprecedented popularity of a one mile stretch of new park and trail. It was complemented by the hard work of a huge array of elected officials and government agencies: Governor Rendell, State Senator Vince Fumo, State Rep. Babette Josephs, Mayors Street and Nutter, many City Council members, the Law Department, the Streets Department, Parks and Recreation, the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, and Schuylkill River Development Corporation.
The 2005 legal skirmish between the City of Philadelphia and CSX (which owns the tracks and right-of-way) included many rounds of negotiations. A settlement was ultimately reached in 2007 which allowed for the two street level crossings plus an bike/ped bridge over the tracks. Funding to cover most of the costs of implementing the agreement came from an earmark from U.S. Senator Arlen Specter during the era of congressional earmarks, a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, and a federal TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation during the era of stimulus funding. The campaign evolved into the Schuylkill River Park Alliance (SRPA), which monitored the implementation of the settlement agreement to make sure it didn't get derailed.
The Finishing Touches
In 2011, the Race and Locust streets crossings were protected with automatic gates and fencing. The last pieces are being completed this fall: the Connector Bridge, a new dog park, major landscaping improvements, and new lighting within the park. After many years of patience and persistence, the October 20th ribbon cutting will mark the culmination of a tremendous effort on the part of many to make the Schuylkill River Park Trail on Schuylkill Banks safe and accessible for all.
Parallel with the festivities, SRPA is hosting the 7th annual Runnin on the River 5K that same morning on October 20th. The race will start from the bottom of the new bridge, allowing the 5K runners to be first among those to cross it.

Cynwyd Trail: Great Connection for Our Town [ROXBOROUGH REVIEW]

August 16, 2012 - The Roxborough Review ran a 2-page article about the trail work happening in and around Lower Merion Township. For the full article, click here:

Berks County Park Rangers Add Bicycle Patrols (TRI-COUNTY RECORD)

Berks County Park Rangers have begun patroling the Union Canal Trail and the trails around Antietam Lake. Excerpts from the story, from the Tri-County Record:
“Not only does it ensure public safety, but it’s a way to engage the public to make sure they’re following safe bicycle practices,” explained Albert Evans, Park Ranger Supervisor. 
Patrols will be added in two phases. The first phase of patrols are currently underway following the completion of a training course by two rangers and the acquisition of bicycles, a bicycle rack and high visibility uniforms. Two additional rangers will be trained and are expected to begin patrols later this month. The training course was provided at no cost to the county as an in-kind donation by state-certified instructor and retired Reading Police Sergeant, John Pontician.
Bike Patrol Rangers will be equipped with mountain bikes and first aid kits at all times.
“We frequently come across injuries on the trail. The majority of medical emergencies that occur in the parks, rangers are the first responders and often come across them before 9-1-1 is called.,” Evans said. “Bicycles offer a more effective and efficient way to patrol areas that are being used more and more and that are not accessible other than walking.”
Bern Township Police Officers are also assisting in the bike patrols of the Union Canal Trail, which runs between Blue Marsh Lake and the Stonecliffe Recreation Area. The trail sees significant traffic from walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

The Challenges And Rewards Of Family Vacations On Two Wheels

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By Katie Monroe
When my family goes on vacation together, we ride bicycles. And I don't mean cruisers at the shore – we pack padded spandex shorts and get up every day and ride around 35 miles, working our way around a new country for a few weeks, staying in B&Bs, taking in the scenery from our saddles. Over the past decade or so, I have been lucky enough to pedal my way through parts of the Netherlands, the south of France, the Veneto region of Italy, western Ireland, and, this summer, Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. We always go through some kind of tour company (International Bicycle Tours, for example), so someone moves our luggage from place to place for us. We’ve done these trips with and without guides, and in groups ranging from just the four people in my immediate family up to a record seventeen extended family members.
It is safe to say that at this point we are completely sold on bike touring. A lot of people have told me that they think we’re crazy, that there’s nothing relaxing or vacation-like about our trips, and I’ll admit: there’s a lot of sweating involved, and rain pants are unquestionably the least attractive garment every invented. (see above image: Netherlands) So why do we do it?
Biking gets you off the beaten path. 
Our bicycle trips, without fail, include exactly those “not in the guide book” experiences seasoned travelers crave. It’s true that we saw St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Roman Arenas in Provence, and the Cliffs of Moher on the Ireland coast – but I appreciated just as much the chance to glimpse something of the fabric of daily life in these countries, and it’s a lot easier to explore outside the tourist areas if you’re on a bicycle. An older Frenchman out in his garden in overalls, Italian teenagers playing soccer in an empty lot, a Dutch mother of two towing her kids to the playground on a bike – these are the sights I treasure from our trips. Moving at a pace that’s faster than walking but not as fast (and hermetically sealed-off from the world) as motorized travel allows for all sorts of surprises. On our last trip, we stopped for a water break at a quirky Cape Breton hat shop and chatted with the friendly seamstress inside. As we were leaving, we learned from her neighbor  that she was something of a local celebrity, and had recently crafted several hats for Elton John!
Biking forces reflection.
I love my family deeply, but anyone can tell you that family vacations often entail Too Much Togetherness. Bike trips, for us at least, strike an ideal balance between the joy of shared experiences and the necessity of meditative alone-time. Instead of being at each other’s throats after a long day of constant chatter and collective decision-making, at the end of a biking day the various members of my family are excited to sit down and really appreciate each other’s company. We each notice and ponder different things as we pedal through these landscapes – my dad, the plant biologist, always admires the flora, for instance, while I am easily entranced by Europe's elegant transportation infrastructure. The rhythm we achieve between thinking to ourselves and talking to each other is one of my favorite aspects of our bike tours.
Biking is physically invigorating.
I haven’t always been perfectly comfortable on our bike vacations. My sister once composed a eulogy to her frozen toes while riding in Nova Scotia; we found it challenging to carry enough water to stave off dehydration in the Italian sun;  climbing the 14% grade of North Mountain in Cape Breton was among the greatest physical challenges I’ve ever undertaken. Despite all this – or perhaps because of it – I feel like we have forged a real intimacy with the places we’ve traversed by bicycle, climate and topography definitely included. In addition, nothing quite justifies stuffing your face with Italian gelati, Dutch stroopwafel, French pastries, or Irish Guinness quite like a full day of bicycling. We’ve enjoyed massive amounts of delicious, rather unhealthy food on each of these trips, and invariably come home in better shape than when we left. Not to mention acquiring some really cool bike shorts tan lines.
Of course, my point here is not merely that biking is a great way to go on vacation. My experiences with biking around the world have fed directly into my passion for urban bicycling advocacy right here in Philadelphia. Much is made of the distinction between “transportation” and “recreation” cycling, but many of the rides I've taken to work or the grocery store or a friend’s house in West Philly have felt as much like "recreation" as the vacation bike trips I love so much. It's fun to experience the world from a bike seat - to be active, out in the fresh air, making eye contact with people – and that's no less true in the Pine Street bike lane as it is in the Italian countryside.
About the author
Katie Monroe is the Education and Safety Intern at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Photos by Jon Monroe.

Take the I Bike PHL Challenge This Summer!

Are you exploring The Circuit by bike this summer? Join the nearly 1,000 other bicyclists who are already participating in the I Bike PHL Challenge!

What is it and how does it work?

  • A free, for-fun competition to encourage you to use your bike for transportation, exercise, and recreation this summer.
  • Part of the National Bike Challenge, a national effort to see which cities and states bike the most, and uniting them to get 50,000 people to ride 10 million miles this summer.
  • Endomondo's website and free app tracks your miles, CO2 emissions, calories, and more.
  • Create teams of up to 10 friends, coworkers or classmates!
  • Explore Circuit trails while you rack up points to unlock new prize levels and climb the leaderboards.

How can I sign up?

  • Registration is fast and easy on the Endomondo website.
  • The Challenge runs May 1 - August 31 and you can sign up anytime. The earlier you join, the more days you'll have to rack up points!

How do prizes work?

Explore The Circuit this summer and help Pennsylvania and New Jersey show the rest of the country that we get around on two wheels!