On April 13, I had the pleasure of participating in an “Opening Day for Trails” event in Southwest Philadelphia’s Cobbs Creek Park. This event featured a one-mile walk along the Cobbs Creek Trail and attracted approximately 15 community residents.
During the walk, educators from the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center discussed some of the native plants along the path, and pediatricians from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Cobbs Creek office discussed the importance of getting outside as a healthy lifestyle habit.
Multiple groups organized this event including the Rails to Trails Conservancy, NaturePHL, and the Circuit Trails Coalition — of which PEC is an active member. I was excited to see neighborhood residents using a trail in their community and glad to support our partners’ trail advocacy work.
The event also inspired me to reflect on PEC’s commitment to promoting trail access in underserved neighborhoods. PEC has led the way on construction and community outreach for the 58th Street Greenway, a 1.5-mile multi-use path that connects Cobbs Creek Park with Bartram’s Garden and points beyond. The 58th Street Greenway is part of the broader Circuit Trails network, as well as the East Coast Greenway, which will eventually link Maine with Florida.
Promoting and enhancing access to outdoor amenities in underserved areas is an essential component of PEC’s trail development efforts.
Recently, PEC has developed an inclusive trail planning toolkit, as well as a related social equity workshop, to remind stakeholders about the importance of building trails where there has traditionally been little access, and engaging in trail development with community residents, not simply for them.
Additionally, PEC has organized multiple collaborative meetings regarding new segments of the Cobbs Creek Trail that will likely be built and open for use this year. A variety of organizations are actively contributing to these discussions including the Clean Air Council and the City of Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department.
To me, promoting and enhancing access to outdoor amenities in underserved areas is an essential component of PEC’s trail development efforts. I look forward to supporting these important initiatives and moving them forward in the months to come!