On April 10, Andrea Irland of the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance program invited a who’s who of planners and advocates along the shores of Lake Erie to discuss the vision of how to connect these communities by trails.
Within the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition, this is the last mega-corridor to come together, moving our goal of 1,600 connected-miles that much closer to reality. What we learned is that although this east-west connection might be a new idea, there are already many efforts gaining traction that make this goal a realistic vision.
Both the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are working on a bicycle master plan that is looking at connections to the eastern suburbs. The city of Mentor and Lake County are looking at some large development projects that will make it possible for people to bike to the Mentor Headlands and Fairport Harbor Beach, some of the most popular lake destinations for Northeast Ohio and relatively inaccessible by bike. Ashtabula County is also working hard to reward the county voters who voted to support trails last year.
Crossing into Pennsylvania, the conversation turned toward how to make an already designated scenic byway along Route 5 more accommodating for cyclists, as this will take people into the city of Erie and some already existing trail networks.
These type of initial discussions are the spark that makes this coalition possible. As part of the leadership team, it’s my role at PEC to keep these conversations going, transitioning the dream lines on a map into quantifiable steps that will move the project forward, slowly but surely. We have 18 years to reach our goal but every conversation like this one held in Geneva moves us just that little bit closer to the end.