Adapting to the Pandemic: Finding Safe Outdoor Spaces in a Changed World

River Region Trails is working to increase the awareness of trails and trail development here in Central Alabama while also supporting the work of other trail development organizations. The Rails to Trails Conservancy’s mission is to develop a nationwide network of trails and to reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. You can learn more about them here 

This article is part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Trail Moments initiative—to elevate new and tried-and-true trail voices around the country, and how trails impact the lives of Americans. You can read the full article on their website by clicking here: 

“This article is part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Trail Moments initiative—to elevate new and tried-and-true trail voices around the country, and how trails impact the lives of Americans. Learn more at trailmoments.org and #TrailMoments on social media

Our family has visited rail-trails throughout New England and beyond, bringing our adaptive tandem bicycle along so I could explore more than the limited distance I am able to walk (about 2 miles). My right leg and foot are partially paralyzed, so I only take easy walks (not too many roots or rocks, relatively level and with something of interest along the way), using hiking poles to offer support and aid in balance. Nearly 30 years ago, as I lay in a hospital bed with my right side totally paralyzed, I could not imagine that one day I would be writing books about walking. In the intervening years, I have experienced many levels of healing and have written four Easy Walks books.

Finding a tandem bike I could use has been a journey in and of itself, but once we located one I could get on—and stay on—safely, the sky (or at least as far as we were able to drive) has been the limit in exploring rail-trails. Pedaling along on the back of our tandem, I feel like I am flying. What an intoxicating sensation, after feeling so earthbound by the health challenges I have learned to adapt to these past nearly 30 years.

And then, the pandemic. This past year we have all struggled to cope, and keep ourselves safe from the COVID-19 virus. The outdoors became a refuge for many, a place we could feel safer spending time with family and friends. And yet, this reality meant that the most visible trails (especially well-marked rail-trails!) near where we live became overcrowded. Parking lots were jammed, and people unfamiliar with “rules of the road” were unaware of the challenges of combining bikes, kids and adults with dogs on leashes, all in relatively narrow pathways……….”

 

River Region Trails Releases Impact Report

River Region Trails is excited to release our Economic, Health, Environmental, and Transportation impact study! Over the past year our organization has been working with ALTA Planning + Design on a Master Plan for a connected trail network in the City of Montgomery. Alta Planning + Design is an active transportation company dedicated to creating active, healthy communities through planning, landscape architecture, engineering, and education/encouragement programs. We completed phase 1 of that plan which included the studies as well as stakeholder meetings with key partners from the City of Montgomery, Montgomery County Commission, local businesses, and community organizations.

 

The River Region Trails Project envisions a connected, 85-mile trail network in the City of Montgomery. Trails will serve as ribbons of equity, commerce, culture, community, tourism, and nature that connect people to each other and their environment. Trails will connect families, neighborhoods, downtown, schools, colleges, natural resources, historic sites, retail centers, employment centers, and entertainment. When complete, the City of Montgomery will experience $18.3 million in annual transportation, health, environmental, and economic benefits according to the report which can be read HERE.

 

This study proves the need for a connected trail network in Montgomery. Our next step is to complete the master planning process so we can take the trail network from concept to design and shovel ready projects that will improve the pedestrian experience for citizens and visitors! To learn more information about the master planning process or ways you can support our efforts sign up for our newsletter on our website.

Pop-Up Trail Coming to Cloverdale

A pop-up trail is coming to the Old Cloverdale neighborhood of Montgomery on October 8th!

River Region Trails was awarded AARP’s 2021 Community Challenge Grant to create a pop-up pedestrian trail in Montgomery. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is intended to help communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages. A Pop-up Trail is a temporary mobility solution that can be used to test new strategies for pedestrian traffic. They are also used to prove the need for better pedestrian infrastructure in neighborhoods and retail districts.

The Cloverdale pop-up trail will include marked, separated lanes along College Street and Cloverdale Road that will allow pedestrians to safely share the roads with vehicle traffic. The pedestrians’ path will be separated by cones and painted lanes so users can safely enjoy walking, running, and biking. Using existing sidewalks on Fairview Avenue and Felder Avenue, users can connect the pop-up lanes to form a 2-mile loop through the neighborhood. Way-finding markers will be added to guide users on the path.

The pop-up trail will kickoff on Saturday October 8th with a launch party at Mary Ann Neeley Park on College Street. The trail will be open from 9th to the 24th of October and will be usable from sunrise to sundown. Follow our Facebook page for updates on the pop-up trail and kickoff party!

Click here for a map of the Cloverdale Pop-up loop: Pop Up Trail Map

To learn more about the AARP Community Challenge grant program click HERE

Celebrate Trails Day – April 23

Mark your calendars for Celebrate Trails Day—Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s annual springtime celebration of America’s trails—on Saturday, April 23.

We’re planning to celebrate by giving tours of the future Cypress Nature Park, which will soon be home to a new educational trail system. The tours will be hosted at 10 AM and 1 PM on Saturday April 23rd. To join us, please send an email to riverregiontrails@gmail.com or join the event on Facebook.

If you can’t join us at Cypress Nature Park, you can also participate by simply heading outside and celebrating the River Region’s other trails!

You can find how-tos and other resources to help you plan solo, family- and household-friendly, virtual and outdoor adventures on the Celebrate Trails Day website. Plus, if you let Rails-to-Trails Conservancy know that you’ll be participating this year, you’ll be entered to win awesome trail gear and other prizes.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating trails on April 23!

P.S. Help get the word out and share your trail and outdoor adventures on social media using #CelebrateTrails!