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November 3, 2014 Published in Letters/Opinions

Exploring America’s Greenway

To the editor:

I was one of 44 cyclists who stopped in Alexandria for the night during our week-long, 325-mile bike ride from Philadelphia to Fredericksburg, Va. in October. Our mission was to check on the progress of the East Coast Greenway (www.greenway.org), a 2,900-mile urban version of the Appalachian Trail that links cities from the Canadian border in Maine down to Key West in Florida, and to connect with local officials and supporters. We also demonstrated how cyclists contribute to tourism, as we stayed in hotels, ate in area restaurants and ice cream shops, and otherwise spent money in local businesses. Thanks again to all who welcomed us and helped us on our journey.

What did we find? The new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk in Philadelphia is amazing, and the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge near the airport is a hidden gem. We were wowed by Delaware’s trails and what is in the works; by the end of 2017, 60% of the Delaware route should be off the road. Thank you, Gov. Markell, for being one of the most bike-friendly governors in the U.S.

In Maryland, we are advocating for a safe crossing for bicyclists and pedestrians over the Susquehanna River when Amtrak rebuilds its 108-year-old bridge. Baltimore impressed us with how we could ride a network of trails from Druid Hill Park most of the way through the city and on to Annapolis. And the route from Annapolis to Washington D.C. was just as smooth, as we travelled on trails, neighborhood streets and generally quiet roads. It was stunning to be able to reach the Capitol and the National Mall by using the Metropolitan Branch Trail and residential roads, bypassing all kinds of traffic congestion.

We relished the Mount Vernon Trail and were thrilled to see multi-use paths under construction in suburban Virginia that will make the route even more enjoyable for future riders. The vision of an East Coast Greenway is making great strides, although we recognize there is still much work to be done to make the entire stretch a safe route for everyone from the local walker to the long-distance cyclist.

The 2015 version of the ride will pick up where this one ended, in Fredericksburg, and will end in Raleigh, N.C. It, too, will be about 325 miles. Anyone interested in participating can emailinfo@greenway.org for more information.

Dennis Markatos-Soriano

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