New York State soon hopes to complete its 750-mile Empire State Trail, which will bring together a series of trails statewide and make it easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel, for the most part, safely away from traffic.
About 400 miles of the Empire State Trail are complete in various pieces, and many are not connected yet, but the state hopes to pull it all together by the end of 2020. The state is investing $200 million on 60 projects of various sizes in hopes it all comes together in the next year.
As a life-long cyclist living in NY, I have enjoyed riding in every part of NY — the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, the Hudson Valley, NYC. We are blessed with beautiful riding throughout the state, but sometimes it can be very difficult to know where you can safely ride.
And sad to say, even with many years of experience of finding and navigating safe cycling routes, occasionally I have found myself having to ride on some very sketchy and frankly very dangerous roads. That’s why I LOVE the idea of the Empire State Trail — a safe place for all bike riders to ride their bike and explore the natural beauty of NY.
The state is also hoping the trail sparks bicycle tourism and will promote “bike-friendly establishments” across the state.
Kyle Hatch, the interim executive director of the New York Bicycling Coalition, said bicycle tourism is “a massive industry in the United States that I think a lot of people overlook.”
The coalition is educating local businesses along the proposed about the best ways to capitalize on bike tourism.
“We see this as a huge show of dedication for bicycling and bicycling tourism across the state,” he said of the trail.
The trail, first proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January 2017, could attract 8.6 million users annually from locals on a short portion of it to the more adventurous riders and walkers going longer distances, according to state estimates.
The state says it will be the longest, state-run, multi-use trail in the country once it is completed.
Once completed, 85 percent of the trail will be paths dedicated to bikes and pedestrians, but the trail from Washington County north to the Canadian border will be on the shoulder of rods and mainly for bicyclists.
Getting the trail together has been a big logistical job. The state is monitoring about 60 projects across the state to connect the existing trails and close the gaps statewide. About 30 percent of the projects are complete, another 50 percent are still in progress, and 20 percent are still in design or out for construction bidding,
Twin Tiers cyclists interested in trail riding in mild weather this winter can try the Catharine Valley Trail from Schuyler County to Chemung County.
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