Biking with Larry Walsh: Trail group seeks volunteers


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The Trail Town Program is seeking volunteers to collect information to help determine the economic impact of the Great Allegheny Passage.

Beginning July 19, volunteers will be asked to donate two hours at each of 11 trail towns to ask trail users their home zip codes, where they got on and plan to get off the passage, how much they expect to spend on food, lodging, clothing, rental equipment (bikes, canoes, etc.), transportation (shuttles/taxis) and their choice of overnight accommodations (B&B, campground, guest house, hostel, hotel/motel, friend/relative’s home).

At least one volunteer, preferably a few more, is needed at Homestead, McKeesport, Boston, West Newton, Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Confluence, Rockwood and Meyersdale in Pennsylvania, and Frostburg and Cumberland in Maryland.

If two hours of time can be donated on at least one of the eight days selected by the Trail Town Program, it will be a big help. The last survey was done in 2011.

“We are looking to get a sample survey to see what trends and numbers may have changed [since 2011],” Will Prince, manager of the Trail Town Program, said.

Prince said the surveys will be taken on July 19, 28; Aug. 10, 22; Sept. 9, 20; and Oct. 7, 11. If it rains on a scheduled day, the surveys, which take only a few minutes, will be taken the following day.

With the exception of Homestead, Ohiopyle and Cumberland, volunteers will only have to complete 50 surveys — an average of six or seven surveys on each of the above dates. The volunteers at Homestead, Ohiopyle and Cumberland will complete 100 surveys.

When I conducted surveys in 2011, it didn’t take long to collect the required number of surveys on each day. I’ll be back at it on each of the scheduled days at the top of the asphalt ramp that bicyclists and walkers use to follow the trail up from Route 281 in Confluence.

If you’re interested in volunteering for any of the Pennsylvania trail towns, contact Prince at wprince@progressfund.org. For the Maryland trail towns, contact Bill Atkinson, the president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, at bill.atkinson@maryland.gov.

PTAG Trailfest

The Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group will have its Ninth Annual Trailfest July 18 at Hartwood Acres (6 p.m. at the Middle Road parking lot), July 19 at Boyce Park (9:30 a.m. at the soccer field) and July 20 at North Park (Boathouse, times vary).

“[It’s] geared to appeal to hikers, bikers, birders, dog walkers, runners and equestrians — anyone who is a trail user and those who would like to be,” said Jim Kapp, PTAG’s Boyce Park steward.

“We will have guided hikes and bike personnel at all locations, [but] there will be no bike mechanic on duty at most locations,” Kapp said. Participants should have their bikes “in good working order.” Helmets are required.

The event is sponsored by the Over the Bar Cafe (Boathouse and South Side), Full Pint Brewing Company, Trek Pittsburgh, The Wheel Mill, Elite Runners & Walkers and the Allegheny County Parks Department.

Information: www.ptragtrails.org.

Five Star Trail Poker Run

The 14th Annual Five Star Trail Poker Run, which also benefits the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, begins at 9 a.m. July 19 at Lynch Field in Greensburg. Registration opens at 8:15 a.m. The fee is $15 by July 14 and $20 thereafter.

Participants, who have their choice of a 4-mile walk or a 12-mile bike ride, will select a playing card at each of five checkpoints. The top three poker hands will receive a trophy and a special prize package.

The event also features a “giant” door prize giveaway, a bike raffle courtesy of the Bicycle Shop in Youngwood and snacks for sale.

Information: www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/parks; 724-830-3950.

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


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