Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An interesting element for state-level bike and tourism planning: a state-wide network of bicycle routes and trails

Signs for the Route Verte abut a bicycle sharing station in Montreal
Signs for the Route Verte abut a bicycle sharing station in Montreal.

While there are a number of instances of extremely long multiuse walking and biking trails, some as long as 300+ miles, I have written before about the Province of Quebec's Route Verte, a network of bicycle paths across the entire province, through and linking cities, towns, suburbs, and rural areas, totalling more than 4,500 km/2,795 miles of marked routes.

The idea, based on similar examples in Europe, was proposed by Vélo Québec, the province-wide bicycling advocacy group, and it took many years to convince Transport Quebec and the local jurisdictions to take up and implement the idea.

Now it is marketed as a significant element of Quebec's tourism program, with a special program to support provision of accommodations to bicyclists along the route.
Welcome Cyclists accommodations sign
Velo Quebec image.

Andy Clarke mentioned the Route Verte (and indirectly the Trail Towns bicycle tourism promotion effort in Pennsylvania) and it occurred to me that Maryland should work to develop such a program.

The State of Maryland does acknowledge the importance of tourism as part of bike infrastructure development as part of the Strategic Trails Initiative, but they haven't extended the idea to something along the lines of Route Verte.

After all, it would support local tourism, but also local biking for residents. (Note that a number of counties in Maryland such as Carroll County, Talbot County, Caroline County, and Wicomico County--partly in association with the Great Delmarva Trail program, but they don't have unified signage, have particularly well-formed bike tourism programs.)

Pennsylvania has a set of state bicycle tour routes and Virginia is the only place I've seen that marks the national bicycle routes identified by the Adventure Cycling Association, but the Route Verte system and marketing program is much more comprehensive.
National Bicycle Route sign, Route 1, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia
National Bicycle Route sign, Route 1, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia.

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