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Submitted by:  Parks & Trails New York

The New York State Canal Corporation and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor are partnering with Parks & Trails New York to present a series of events aimed at helping Canalway Trail communities take advantage of the growing bicycle tourist market.  Events include an evening roundtable on Wednesday, October 10 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Albion’s Hoag Library, 134 South Main Street, and a bike “visit” to Albion beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 11.

Entitled “Bicyclists Bring Business,” the roundtable will focus on how to attract and profit from the area’s growing number of bicycle tourists.  Local business people, elected officials, Chambers of Commerce, Tourist Promotion Agencies, and interested citizens are invited to attend.  The Western Erie Canal Alliance (WECA) will host the event.

As a follow up to the roundtable, on Thursday, October 11 there will be a “bicycle visit” designed to use the previous evening’s presentation as a basis for experiencing the Village of Albion and Erie Canalway Trail as a cycling tourist.  Participants should meet at 10:00 a.m., at Albion’s Golden Gourd Bistro, 118 N. Main Street.  Following the bike ride there will be time to discuss the “visit” and possible solutions to identified issues over a pay-your-own lunch at the Golden Gourd Bistro.

Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation, said, “New York’s Canal system contributes nearly $380 million annually to the economy of upstate New York, including more than $41 million annually from the Canalway Trail. The Canalway Trail is an integral part of the infrastructure that supports tourism and recreation along the corridor.  The Canal Corporation is proud to sponsor this roundtable to help local communities and businesses benefit from this tremendous resource.”

Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York, said, “The Canalway Trail Corridor has what it takes to be an attractive destination for the cycling tourist, especially in western New York  –almost 100 miles of continuous, off-road Erie Canalway Trail; impressive historic sites and museums; charming B&B's and inns; and country stores and farm stands.  Through the roundtables, we want to help Canalway Trail businesses and communities attract bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts and thereby increase their share of tourism dollars.”

Beth Sciumeca, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor said, “The key is to see things from the perspective of the bicyclist. This workshop will help businesses, communities, and others appeal to the thousands of bicyclists who explore the Erie Canalway Corridor each year.”

”The Canalway Trail offers a comfortable and safe trail for biking & hiking. WECA is excited to host this program.  It provides an opportunity for bicyclist, businesses and community officials to work together to become bicycle and hiking friendly communities,” said WECA Executive Director Joan Delaro.

Studies consistently show that bicycle and other outdoor tourists come from high-income households, typically spend between $100 and $300 per day, and will travel significant distances to regions offering a good mix of cycling, attractions, and services.  With this summer’s announcement that work will begin on closing the gaps in the Canalway Trail between Amherst and Lockport and in the town of Lyons and with the many other area trails under construction or planned, the Canalway Trail Corridor is becoming increasingly attractive to those wishing to enjoy a cycling vacation in Upstate New York. 

The roundtable will cover the demographics and needs of the bicycle tourist as well as offer tips for making communities and businesses more bicycle-friendly and attractive to other outdoor recreationalists.  Attendees will receive a copy of Parks & Trails New York’s guidebook, “Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities.”  There will also be time to network with business people and tourism professionals from other communities and enjoy some light refreshments.

Parks & Trails New York is the only statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and expanding a network of parks, greenways, and trails for all New Yorkers to enjoy.  Since 1998, Parks & Trails New York has been working in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation to help canal communities plan, develop and promote the Canalway Trail.  Parks & Trails New York organizes Cycling the Erie Canal, the highly successful 400-mile, eight day bike tour, now in its 14th year, that annually attracts more than 500 participants to ride from Buffalo to Albany, and has published the popular, 136-page guidebook, Cycling the Erie Canal: A Guide to 400 miles of adventure and history along the Erie Canalway Trail.

When complete, the New York State Canalway Trail System will span more than 500 miles and connect numerous cities, towns, and villages along the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain Canals, making it one of the longest multi-use recreational trails in the country.

To learn more about the New York State Canalway Trail and Canal System or to obtain a free map, please call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit the Canal Corporation’s website at www.nyscanals.gov .
Roundtable space is limited. RSVP to Parks & Trails New York at B3roundtable@ptny.org or by calling 518-434-1583 by October 9.


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