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Top News Stories/Trends In 2011

Reoccurring stories or themes defined the news scene for 2011. So, along with our usual countdown of the "top stories" comes several news trends as well.

1. Threats To End Federal Trail Funding

Several attacks were launched in D.C. to eliminate federal funding for Ped/Bike projects. Below is an RTC video that summarizes how the thinking behind these repeated attacks is flawed.

Here's another perspective from Jay Walljasper.

2. Sink Holes Plague Great Miami River Trail

A couple of 30' sink holes cropped up along the GMRT in Middletown, Ohio. The cause: corroded sewer pipes. After heavy equipment was used to fix the lines, the total damage to the trail approached $30k for repairs.

3. Towpath Floods For 3rd Time In 2011

2011 was a soggy year that saw many trails covered by flood waters. Low lying bikeways like the Ohio & Erie Towpath were particularly vulnerable. Some sections of the towpath flooded at least 3 times in 2011.

4. Ohio Trail Gaps Being Closed

With federal trail funding prioritizing trail connections and links, and a couple of decades of trail building already under it's belt, Ohio began completing and connecting trail segments around the state. Some of the noteworthy headlines included:

5. Parks Struggle With Minimal Budgets

Some Ohio park districts continued to struggle in 2011 with some closing facilities during the winter in an effort to save money.

A silver lining continues to shine through in areas where park districts actively work with volunteers to keep facilities open. Such was the case in Clark County, where thanks to public cooperation, trails were reopned in April.

6. Minneapolis Takes Top Biking City Award

For an area of the country that's known for cold weather, the fact that Minneapolis ascended to the top of the most bike-friendly cities was quite a surprise to some. And Minneapolis continues to surprise and impress by having the highest rate of women cyclists as well as their numbers continue to surge.

7. Legislation Helps Protect Cyclists

As the trend to integrate bicycling into traditional U.S. roadways continues, so does the effort to pass laws that protect cyclists. Ohio has taken a good first step by creating more awareness for road cycling by launching a "Share The Road" campaign. (Toledo also passed a version of the "3-Feet" Law in 2009.)

Here are some other notable headlines from across the U.S.

California also proposed a "3-Feet" law that the governor refused to sign. The bill is being re-worked and will be proposed again.

8. Cleveland Struggles With West Shoreway Project

Bike/ped controversies in Cleveland seem to be the norm. In 2009 Cleveland cyclists were left out of an important bridge project and now they are being removed (in large part) from an important restructuring plan that is intended to make the lakefront more accessible.

A bit of a dubious circumstance, when you consider that Cleveland approved a "Complete & Green Streets" in 2011 as well.

9. (Re)Building Bridges

More aging infrastructure along older Ohio trails will continue to be a challenge for trail managers. Trail resurfacing, along with bridge structural restoration, will be among the most expensive costs.

Two noteworthy bridge projects in 2011 were the often delayed rehab of a Newark Trail bridge and the re-building of the Sippo Valley Trail bridge that had been burned back in 2008.

New trail bridge construction on the Blacklick and Bike-Hike Trails also made news. As well as the Ed Honton bridge dedication along the Alum Creek Trail.

9. NYC High Line: A New Greenway Concept

A unique greenway concept is gaining national attention. Abandoned elevated rail lines in urban areas are being reclaimed as green space.

The story of the NYC High Line is one of great success. Currently it is the #2 tourist attractiion in NYC.

The High Line has become a model for similar projects, such as the Harsimus Stem Embankment in Jersey City. more...

10. 20,000 Trail Miles Mapped

RTC announced that it has mapped 20,000 miles of trails across the U.S.

Garmin works in conjunction with the RTC and its trail data and released its Trail Maps Ver. 3 in November.

11. Land Acquired For Athens Countywide Trail

"Through private donations and grants, an Athens organization purchased more than $300,000 worth of land to continue work on a project that would create a countywide bike path." more...

12. U.S. Bicycle Route System Resurrected

"You might be surprised to hear that there's an actual, official interstate "highway" system for bicyclists. Although there's a pretty good reason that you're probably not familiar with it: after the first two routes on the U.S. Bicycle Route System were designated in 1982, the whole project has essentially been neglected and ignored by officials.

"Until now, that is." more...

13. "The Bike Rack" Opens In Cleveland

"...The City of Cleveland and The Downtown Cleveland Alliance offer the region's first full service bicycle parking and commuter center. The Bike Rack demonstrates a collective effort to create a more bike friendly environment in downtown Cleveland, welcoming bicyclists with the convenience of secure bicycle parking and fulfilling everyday commuting needs with individual shower/changing facilities, lockers, and a full service bicycle repair shop." more...

14. OSU Earns Bike-Friendly Bronze

"In the last three years, Ohio State has invested more than $2 million into efforts to promote and provide a bicycle-friendly environment for students and visitors, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

"The LAB has honored OSU as a Bicycle Friendly University for transforming its campus into a friendly bicycling culture. OSU is the 26th university to be nationally recognized and is the first in Ohio." more...

15. $1.7M Awarded To Ohio Trail Projects

In a struggling economy and with so many threats being levied against trail projects, the annual awarding of federal grants for ped & trail projects has become a precious prize. more...

16. Toledo Purchases Trail Corridor For $6.5M

"After decades of use as a working railroad, a mostly inactive stretch of track from West Toledo to Perrysburg Township passed into public ownership Monday. The ultimate use for the 11.6-mile right of way: a bicycle and pedestrian path." more...

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