Larry Walsh on biking: Survey engages users of Rivers Heritage Trail

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Jeff McCauley said there has been a good response to a survey of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the 24-mile biking, hiking and walking trail that parallels the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

"We've received 140 online responses and 100 others that were mailed to us," said McCauley, stewardship coordinator of the Friends of the Riverfront, the 23-year-old membership-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the development, expansion, promotion and stewardship of the trail.

The 45-question survey is designed to collect information on trail use, trail-related spending and management. It continues through October.

It asks trail users to enter their zip codes; municipality; age group; number of times they use the trail, the time they spend on it and favorite segments; age group; gender; companions (children 15 and younger or pets).

Use of the trail to commute to school or work; how they access the trail (bike, car, mass transit); how they found out about the trail; purchases made during their ride; the number and cost of overnight accommodations; any safety or security concerns; cleanliness of the trail; landscaping.

Preferred trail surface; impression of interpretive signs along the trail; use of the trail (year-round or warmer months only) and if they'd like to have the trail cleared of snow.

"The survey will help us learn about our trail users and improve [its] management," said Thomas Baxter, FOTR's executive director.

The paper survey is available at multiple locations along the trail. The online survey can be accessed at trailhead locations with a smartphone using the QR code or by taking a flyer that contains the Web address.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy also is using infrared counters at various locations along the trail. Plans are in the works to add 30 more miles to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, including segments that would become part of the Erie to Pittsburgh trail.

Information:; 412-488-0212.

Tour de Red Belt

The Tour de Red Belt, a 62-mile ride June 15, will begin and end at Golden Triangle Bike Rental, 600 First Ave., Downtown.

Participants will follow a marked route to Bellevue, Warrendale, Bakerstown and then down Saxonburg Road to Middle Road and back. Cue sheets will be provided.

Hosted by the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club, the ride will begin at 7 a.m. Free parking will be available at the Second Avenue lot next to the Allegheny County Jail.

The registration fees -- $22 now, $27 June 15 -- will be donated to the Youth Sojourn that will bike from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath.


Trail Town Program

Representatives of the Trail Town Program met recently with almost 100 members of communities in western Pennsylvania to identify opportunities along three multipurpose regional trails. The program will share the results of those sessions at separate meetings this month.

Trans-Allegheny Trail System: 3 p.m., June 17, at the Ebensburg municipal building, 300 High St.

Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Towns (Titusville, Oil City, Emlenton and Foxburg): 6 p.m., June 24, at the Venango College of Clarion University's Rhodes Auditorium, 1801 First St., Oil City.

Great Allegheny Passage Trail Towns (South Side, Homestead, McKeesport and Boston), 6 p.m., June 25, at The Palisades, 100 Fifth Ave., McKeesport.

Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.

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