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Like a lot of great ideas, the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail (SGT) started with a sketch on the back of a napkin.
It was 2013, Douglas Meyer recalls, but he starts the story nearly ten years earlier when a work contact at National Public Radio suggested that he do a story as part of a personal trip he was planning to ride alongside the Tour De France. That would become his first moonlighting radio assignment, which led to a few others, including a story in 2006 about the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association.
And that’s how he met another local cyclist, Jeff Olson, which sets the stage for the fateful lunch the two friends had seven years later at Maestro’s, the restaurant on Broadway fondly remembered by many Saratogians.
A strategy consultant for national and international non-profit organizations, Meyer had just delivered a keynote address at the National Bike Summit, while Olson, a principal with Alta Planning + Design and co-founder of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, had just returned from “doing good work in yet another distant place like Dubai,” as Meyer remembers.
UPDATE: This plan was unanimously adopted by the City Council in January 2017!
ORIGINAL POST: Work is now underway on the “Saratoga Springs Complete Streets Plan,” which, “aims to improve safety, connectivity, and accessibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users in our neighborhoods” in keeping with the city’s previously adopted Complete Streets Policy. The plan is being developed with support from the Capital District Transportation Committee, and being led by the firm of Alta Planning + Design, which also has been directly involved with the development of the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail.
Complete Streets incorporate the needs of all modes of transportation, from bicycling and walking to driving and transit. The project leaders noted that, “the plan’s data collection and analysis process, hands-on site visits, and community involvement will form an action-oriented plan that helps maintain and improve the healthy and active lifestyles currently enjoyed by Saratoga Springs residents and visitors.” The first public meeting was held on June 29, and additional public comments can be submitted via an online survey.
The annual race that attracts approximately 4,000 runners each year will again be donating a portion of its proceeds to help accelerate the creation of the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail! Implementing what may become a model for others, the race organizers will donate one dollar from every entry to the trail effort. Their generous support reminds one of the famous line, ‘the path is made by walking,’ but in this case perhaps it is the path being made by running!
The race will begin at 9AM on July 4 at the Saratoga Springs City Center, with a course that heads down Broadway, out through the historic residential district and then back to the City Center. Prizes will be awarded to top finishers, as well as for the popular “Run Your Colors” competition. More information about the race can be found at their web site, or go directly to register online. Please also consider volunteering at the race to thank them for their support of the trail effort.