To this point, most of my blog posts have focused on my adventures in small cities across New York State. In 2016 I will also be including smaller entries dealing with issues, installations, ideas, people and ways of life that make our communities strong. As an avid cyclist, a believer in sustainable living, public and green transportation and quality of life improvements as vehicles to a better tomorrow, this entry was one I was excited to write.
On my recent blog trip to Rome, New York, I had a chance to bike along the new Mohawk River Trail, a combination on-road and off-road trail beginning at the Erie Canal Trail near the Amtrak station and ending and ending near the Griffiss Business & Technology Park.
While this trail is a wonderful quality of life addition to Rome, giving residents a place to walk, run or cycle in a beautiful setting, it also serves as an alternative transportation route from the south end of the city to the north, giving bikers and walkers access to some of the key elements that make the community great.
I disembarked from my Amtrak train and unfolded my Dahon Vybe folding bike. For those who enjoy cycling and travel, or just want a good bike that doesn’t take up much space, I highly recommend checking out USA.Dahon.com!
Just outside the station, the Erie Canalway Trail greeted me and led me across the Mill Street bridge.
As you will see throughout these pictures, clear directional and safety signage pervaded this trail network
Across the canal, Bellamy Harbor Park played host to the re-entrance to the Canalway Trail.
A map kept me abreast of where I was and where I needed to go!
A sharp-looking bridge guided me across the confluence between the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal.
And a small parklet on the other side with a pleasant view of the waterway merge would be the perfect spot to stop, relax and maybe enjoy a picnic!
I continued along the Erie Canalway/Mohawk River Trail toward Erie Blvd., where an “on-road” section of the trail broke off from the canal. I did venture a bit farther down the Canalway Trail just because it was really pretty 🙂
Eventually I made the short trek up Erie Boulevard, one of the two short “on road” sections of the trail. This section ushered me north to two of Rome’s attractions, Fort Stanwix National Monument and East Dominick Street in Little Italy, where restaurants, bars and shops lined the busy street.
I made a circle around Fort Stanwix on the trail the runs along the perimeter of the site before heading northeast on Black River Boulevard, finally making a right on Brook Street.
From there I picked up the really fun part of the trail. The trail head featured a nice looking parking lot for easy access, as well as an enormous map.
The trail was rarely straight… instead it wound through the beautiful woods flanking the Mohawk. The wide pavement made it easy to pass any walkers or cyclists I came upon.
The path found it’s way through some interesting spaces.
And along the rushing waterway.
I hung out with some new friends.
And crossed bridges to the future.
The rest of the ride north was filled with gorgeous scenery, a smooth ride and a wonderful overall experience.
And as I stated before, this wasn’t just a great trail for health and wellness, it provided easy access to Mohawk Valley Community College’s Rome campus…
As well as Griffiss Business and Technology Park on the north end.
OK maybe you’re a Rome resident reading this right now saying “I don’t really bike or walk much, and I don’t know why I wouldn’t just take my car to work. How can this possibly benefit me?”
Maybe you’re not from the community and you’re reading this saying “so what, it’s a trail, there’s trails everywhere.”
Maybe you’re a follower of this blog and you’re wondering why I would spend the time to highlight such a seemingly random installation.
Many people don’t realize this, but the Mohawk River Trail and projects like it are VITAL to improving the quality of life in towns and cities. Happier, residents are more connected to their community which leads to better physical and mental health, better business owners, better employees and a feeling of greater responsibility for what happens locally. Even if a resident never uses the trail, he or she may benefit from the effect this trail has on the community as a whole. The impact from quality of life projects such as this one are not limited to the installation itself, they positively effect the way residents AND outsiders feel about their communities.
Sometimes it’s the things we don’t see that create the most impact. We all want the things that make our local economies strong like high paying jobs and loyal employers. What we don’t often realize in today’s evolving cities is that these pieces don’t generate a higher quality of life, they are the result of it. Happier, more vibrant communities are fertile environments that create stability for residents and welcome potential employers.
If you’re a Roman, the Mohawk River trail gives you a great place to get healthy and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bustling city as well as gorgeous views of nature. It provides you with a cheap, green, active transportation option, linking everything from the train station to the Erie Canalway Trail, Little Italy and Downtown Rome, Mohawk Valley Community College and Griffiss Business and Technology Park. Furthermore, it gives visitors like me a sense that Rome is a place that values the health and wellness of its residents.
Cheers to Rome for creating something wonderful and beneficial that everyone in your city can enjoy. The Mohawk River Trail is truly a model for other communities to follow, and like it winds through the city itself, it will surely continue to weave it’s way into the fabric of Rome’s future.
Want to see GoPro video of my ride on the trail? For 17 minutes? Yeah check it out below. Forgive the cheesy house music, I had to add something to it!