Massachusetts Welcomes ECG Advocates for State of the Greenway Weekend

On April 25th and 26th, ECGA Board, Trail Council, members, volunteers and staff from up and down the Eastern Seaboard traveled to Boston, Massachusetts for our spring State of the Greenway Summit. Events included a bike ride on the ECG, a spectacular reception in the Seaport District and a series of informative presentations and energizing meetings helping to advance the ECG network.

50 Cyclists Ride from Topsfield to Boston on the ECG

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 Before the ride start. Photo by Steven Mitchell.

To kick off the weekend, we hosted a Friday bike ride from Topsfield to Boston. Of the 39 miles traveled, approximately 40% of the ride was on greenways, and the weather was 100% perfect! Cyclists enjoyed scenic trails and roads leading through historic New England towns and cities, with great urban, wetland, and oceanfront scenery.

With tired legs but lasting smiles, cyclists finished their ride at the foot of Boston’s iconic North Bank Bridge. Peter Furth, the widely respected expert in bicycle infrastructure and Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, then led cyclists through downtown Boston to the reception at John Hancock in the Seaport District.

Friday Evening Greenway Celebration in Boston’s Greenest Building

The ECGA was fortunate to celebrate greenway progress in the newest and greenest of the John Hancock buildings, which is also Boston’s first LEED Platinum certified building. An impressive collection of local advocates, agency staff, ECGA members, generous donors, and ECGA staff and board members traveled from all over the Eastern Seaboard to celebrate greenway progress. Speakers included Kristine Aristide, marketing manager for John Hancock and board member for the Boston Cyclists Union (BCU), cycling evangelist Richard Fries, BCU Executive Director Pete Stidman and BCU President, Vanessa Green. Local greenway leaders were presented with ECG tiles as a thank you for all their hard work.

Saturday’s Greenway Update and Trail Council Meeting

The world-renowned Dana Farber Cancer Institute hosted Saturday’s State of the Greenway Summit and Trail Council meetings. The setting brought attention to the positive impact greenways and exercise have on public health. Dana Farber generously hosted us in a state of the art top-floor conference room.

Dr. Jennifer Ligibel started off the morning with a presentation on the inverse correlation between exercise and cancer recurrance, followed by Najah Shakir, Project Manager with Boston Bikes, David Watson of MassBike, and Wendy Landman of WalkBoston, all describing concerted and intertwining efforts to make Boston and Massachusetts more livable.

ECGA Boston dana farber

ECGA Board Chair David Read, Wendy Landman of WalkBoston, David Watson of MassBike, Najah Shakir of Boston Bikes, and Dennis Markatos-Soriano. Photo by Robert Russo.

The first half of the day was dedicated to our biannual State of the Greenway Summit, which featured updates on ECG trail development, including new groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, events, and other advances from Maine to Florida. Representatives from many planning agencies and advocacy groups in New England participated in the regional updates, including Scott Bogle (Rockingham Planning Commission, NH) , Betsy Goodrich (Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, MA), Steve Leibman (Bike to the Sea, MA), Marc Barden (SPIRIT, Swamspcott, MA), Jerry Silber (Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance, CT) and Bruce Donald (Farmington Valley Trails Council, CT).

The afternoon Trail Council meeting included a soft roll-out of the exciting new ECG app which will be officially introduced in May 2014. The app will allow users to more easily navigate the ECG and also to begin crowd-sourcing photos and information on trail conditions and amenities such as public rest rooms and campsites.

Trail Designations

During our Trail Council meeting, 10 new trails totaling 20 miles were designated into the growing ECG trail network. These trails, detailed in our April E-newsletter, are spread widely among 5 different states.

Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the weekend a great success! Special thanks go to our presenting sponsor, Tom’s of Maine, for their generous support for the weekend’s events. We are also grateful to our silver-level sponsors VHB and Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, supporters John Hancock and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and ALTA Planning + Design.