New bike-friendly certification for Canalway Trail businesses rolls out

Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation launch new bike-friendly business certification program along Canalway Trail; Release initial list of certified businesses

Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation today introduced Bike Friendly New York, a new certification program for businesses along the Canalway Trail system. BFNY is New York’s first large-scale bike-friendly certification, and is open to a wide range of businesses, from B & B’s and restaurants to retail stores and museums. The program provides an improved level of service for cyclists on the Erie Canalway Trail and other New York destinations to boost cycling-based economic development at the local level.

To be certified as bike-friendly, businesses must demonstrate that they have taken steps to cater to cyclists, such as becoming knowledgeable about local trails and cycling routes and having basic repair tools available. Above these basic requirements, participating businesses can choose from a list of additional amenities that they commit to offering.

Bicycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in the U.S., and an increasing number of people are seeking out new places to ride, whether for an afternoon or a week-long vacation. Bike tourists need food and places to stay, and they spend money on gas and souvenirs. Bike friendly programs in other states and Canada have shown that both businesses and cyclists benefit from a greater awareness of the unique needs of biking customers.

Bike Friendly New York and other efforts to encourage outdoor tourism were buoyed by Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement of funding to build the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile mega trail slated for completion in 2020. The Empire State Trail will be the longest multi-use trail in the nation, and a major draw for cyclists and others to visit New York.

“Canalside businesses play an important role in conveying the heritage and history of the Canal. With the Canalway Trail system now an internationally recognized outdoor recreation destination, programs such as Bike Friendly New York will help them better meet the needs of new and returning visitors,” said Brian Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation.

“We’ve always counted businesses along the Canalway Trail as important partners in our efforts to attract visitors and to get more New Yorkers out on the trail. Bike Friendly New York sets a new standard for what it means to be ‘bike friendly’ and recognizes those businesses that cater to the growing cycling market,” said PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin.

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harveysaid, “New York State offers an exceptional landscape for bicycling adventures of all kinds. I am grateful to Parks & Trails NY and the NYS Canal Corporation for this smart plan to encourage cycling-based economic development here in New York.”

While BFNY is open to a wide variety of businesses, providers of lodging have been especially receptive to the program. These include small B & B’s, such as Schenectady’s Stockade Inn where the program is being launched, as well as national hotel chains located near the Canalway Trail.

“The Stockade Inn is located right on the bike trail and we have always been welcoming to cyclists, including providing interior storage for our overnight guests, so becoming one of the first Bike Friendly New York certified businesses in Schenectady County was a no brainer,” said Jeff McDonald, owner of the Stockade Inn and President of the Schenectady County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Schenectady County has continually invested in our bike trails, including the soon to be opened 1.5 mile Alco Heritage Trail along the new Mohawk Harbor, and our goal is to be known as a great bike-friendly tourist destination.”

“We are absolutely delighted to be certified through Bike Friendly New York. Our close proximity to the Erie Canalway trail makes the Hilton Garden Inn the perfect spot for cyclists to refresh and relax during their travels,” said Jessica Conley, Sales Director for the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/Pittsford. “We continue to see an increase in cyclists along the trail and this program will allow us to make their stay more comfortable and convenient.”

Businesses that meet the requirements and complete the online application will receive a decal to display at their business, and will be included in various publications and web listings. More information, including an up-to-date list of certified businesses, program materials, and the online application, can be found at ptny.org/bikefriendly.

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