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Upcycling the Economy

by Ann Morrow on July 17, 2014


On Monday, Parks and Trails New York released a new report on the Erie Canalway Trail demonstrating an economic impact of $253 million, from a volume of 1.58 million visits a year, and supporting 3,440 jobs in local economies along the trail. The report announcement coincided with PTNY’s 16th annual Erie Canal Ride, a nearly-400-mile, eight-day event that this year attracted 500 cyclists from 35 states and four countries. The canal ride began in Buffalo and will finish in Albany on Sunday.

Touring cyclists and adventure travelers tend to be high income, which corresponds with the findings of the report. It’s estimated that non-local users of the trail spend an average of $531 per person per visit, a figure that goes up considerably if the visit is for more than a day. According to the report’s survey, the trail–which is 10-feet-wide with a stone dust surface–and its scenery are among the top reasons visiting cyclists are attracted to the Erie Canalway Trail.

Incorporating the 1825 canal’s old towpath, the approximately 380-mile trail runs from Albany to Buffalo and links Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, and Schenectady, as well as dozens of small riverfront towns. The trail passes old locks, aqueducts, historic buildings, and other features unique to life along the canal, making it appealing to a wide range of recreational cyclists. PTNY hopes the report will encourage investment in the multi-use trail, including marketing efforts and trail enhancements.

More than 75 percent of the Canalway trail is complete; a PTNY goal is to close remaining gaps between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and between Cohoes and Watervliet.