Stakeholder Meeting Notes

Notes and Summary from the Information Sharing and Discussion Meeting on the website project:

Adirondack North Country Byways, An On-Line Adirondack Byway Bicycle Mapping Project

Meeting Held May 7, 2010 in Speculator, New York at the Inn at Speculator, 10:00 – 2:00.

Notethese comments were providing by the meeting participants during discussions and brainstorming sessions. As such they reflect individual views, perceptions and observations. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) or the views of any of the project sponsors.

(also view as PDF file: Meeting1 Notes 5-7-10 Bike the Byways)

Work Session: Understanding the Market

Topic 1:  What are our competitive advantages for both Road & Mountain Biking?

Diversity – we have a tremendous diversity of rides

NOT ALL MOUNTAINS – many are afraid of our mountains; need to let them know that we have many rides that are not mountainous.  So we need a very good rating system for our rides.  Still have enough hills to keep it interesting.

Inlet has the full spectrum of Mtn Bike rides – from “easy to insane” Lots of DH (Down Hill).  “We have great stuff”

We offer the challenges – mountains, etc. – that some are looking for.

Lots of history.

Great restaurants and a variety of lodging properties.

Low traffic – we have very low traffic numbers, much lower than cities, etc.  need to promote.

“Scenery”Natural Beauty” – High quality.  Good roads through forests, farms and river valleys.

Our Climate is conducive to comfortable riding, cooler weather.  Also Clean Air, History, Affordable, Good Shoulders, lots of other Outdoor Activities to do (fishing, hiking, boating, etc.)

We have designated Bike Routes (although later we heard that the Bike Route signs are coming down, at least that is the plan of DOT, because of deteriorating shoulders and less maintenance of those shoulders is anticipated.)

Proximity to Canada – an appreciative market there.

We have a “Compact Geography”  compared to out West, our communities are much closer to together – 10 miles apart as compared to 30 or more.

We have a different Culture here, with a long history of hospitality.  People are friendly (or, as some joked, you are less likely to get shot here, or, we have lousy aim)

Trailhead parking is prevalent, should better promote those parking areas that bicyclists can use too.

Wide shoulders – a great aspect of our biking infrastructure.

Bring your bike on the train – Amtrak accommodates bikes.

Rumble Strip Free, (although we learned that DOT has a recommendation on the books that rumble strips be added to roads with more than 200 traffic count (no roads are that low – although we heard it appears to be actively pursued at this time…)

Few traffic lights

Family friendly, friendly up here, people will talk to you.

Need to distinguish our “town to town” rides from the X-country routes or cross-regional routes.

Consider “Bike Destination Centers” that offer a number of ride opportunities.

Need to promote the St. Lawrence River Valley, we are not always considered as part of the Adirondacks.  Need to be part of the region; feed bicyclists back and forth.

Be aware of the new “Blue Highway”, an effort to promote the Raquette River valley.

Need to let the powers that be give us assistance…  (not sure what this means?)

Tandem bike shop in Saranac Lake needs to be added as a push-pin to the bike shop map. (will stop by their shop for more info).

Relatively inexpensivemany camping opportunities at Forest, State Park & private campgrounds.

For Mountain Biking – really have little to promote.  Few trails, especially for advanced riders, poorly laid out, generally short trails.  There is huge potential, but would take a dedicated hard working crew of trail builders.

St. Lawrence Seaway is an asset.  We have the infrastructure to support cyclists in the St. Lawrence Seaway – shops, restaurants, lodging, camping, etc.

Many advantages in the Glens Falls area – Close to I-87, thruway.  3 hours from NYC, Montreal, Boston.  Warren County Bikeway for on-road, Feeder Canal trail off-road.  Bike shops in the area.  Need rider-friendly restaurants and lodging.

Lots of beautiful roads, variety of trail options, and plenty of attractions to make a weekend or a week of it.  Potential for some theme rides.

Have great communities promoting buy local, local flare for higher educated, higher income bicyclists.

Big events provide big visibility – Tin Man in Tupper Lake, Battenkill Race in Washington County, Black Fly in Inlet-Indian Lake, IronMan in Lake Placid, etc.  Need to promote those on the new site as well.

We are missing a few things – shuttles between towns, shuttles up steep trails & rides so they can just enjoy the ride down, not many tour guides based in the area (like the fishing and whitewater guides we have), more bike rentals – especially for families.

Lakes & rivers – many routes are near water.

Improvements for bike use of the RR corridor would help build a stronger bicycle tourism economy.

We have a Brand Name established – the Adirondacks are well known.

The area has an outdoor culture.

Proximity to wild areas, small towns, friendly people.

Diversity of riding and interconnected riding.

Support from bike shops and/or recreation stores is available in most communities.

Topic 2:  What are potential niche markets and what are the preferences in those market segments?

One way to promote in niche markets is to engage areas of the region, promote areas where day loops and rides link back to a central location.

Families are a niche.  Multi-sport couples and families are another.

Single-track mountain bike trails are another, with a variety of types and challenges.  Don’t all have to be X-game-type trails, but that is a niche in the Mtn Biking market.

Dirt-road bicycle touring is another popular market, families and others enjoy it.

Dedicated bicycle paths are another market, and one we have a few examples of (Lake George-Glens Falls, Tow Path, Gloversville-Johnsburg)

Rail-Trail conversions are a niche, where they occur.

Not be easy to divide biking into niches that can be marketed to exclusively, there are the DINK’s – Dual-Income No Kids, and the RV’ers who have their bikes, other Retirees, etc.  They are all important, while having similarities as well as differences.

The TOBIE trail links communities and is relatively easy riding, so could appeal to a variety of markets.

Don’t forget about ourselves, need to market to residents of the region, internal tourism.

One of the tenets of marketing is “cross-over,” encourage multiple types of recreational opportunities and other activities (history, culture, scenery, etc.)

Canal communities have niche opportunities, marketing to boaters who might want to bike along the canals, as well as promoting the canal pathways in general.

There is also historic-related travel that dovetails with biking, such as historic tours along the canals and in other areas.

Market events – use events to attract more cyclists and expose them to the area.

Speculator Chamber has survey data from users of their mountain biking area, from a few years ago.  They will try to make a PDF available.

Biking appeals to everyone – from elite athletes to families with children, etc.

There is the dual question of what are the markets, and then where in the area is the biking that can be promoted to those markets.

Promoting “areas” of the region that provide a wide variety of biking opportunities, seems to be one option.

Some of the markets include:  55-65 year olds, destinations-staying in one area, easy mountain biking.

On the other hand, we should try to reach a broad demographic, reach the majority of the market.

Bike Magazine did an article on Inlet a few years ago and we received a lot of visitation because of it, and while the article stressed the more extreme-type Mtn. biking, a wide variety of bicyclists visited because of that article – not all were looking for the extreme biking that they read about.  They were attracted to area’s support for biking in general.

Think about seasonal markets too, attracting bicyclists in the shoulder seasons.

The family market is important.

Don’t want the promotion to be “too watered down”.  So need some general promotion of the area that will appeal broadly, while target specific groups – the long distance rider, the families, the X-gamer, etc.

Should promote the facilities that teach Mtn Biking, Mt. Van Hovenburg teaches mounting biking to older riders.

Mountain biking trails should be rated – easy, moderate, advanced, and need to have “objectivity” in those ratings.

Kingdom Trails in VT has 40,000 users a year, mostly single track.

Use pictures to clue people into what to expect.

Focus on localities – such as the Old Forge/Inlet/Raquette Lake area – and promote the wide variety of biking opportunity in that area.

Niche could be further developed by promoting and/or expanding bike shuttle services – back to starting points.

Largely an urban market, 25 – 70, some like to leave car behind – how easy do we make it to leave a car somewhere for 3 to 4 days? – may be looking for packages.

More competition events that are not fund-raising events.

Main niche markets:  family; young unmarried & urban; affluent retired seniors

Couples age 30 to 50, small groups.

NYC residents – long weekends, getaways.

Adventure travelers are a niche.

Promote a variety of trails and difficulty levels, from families to adventure.

Student tour groups – colleges doing tours, etc.

Historic bike tours.

Tie ins with commercial boating – put your bike on a cruise ship (Old Forge, Raquette, Lake George, Canals, Lake Champlain, etc. – and catch a ride to a trail, across the lake, etc.

Mtn Bike Niche markets include:  Trail riders, down hillers/ dirt jumpers, dirt road touring, and rail trail lovers.

Road Biking Niche markets include:  Competitive racers, long distance tourers, casual tourers, beginners w/children, group riders, and functional riders (commuters).

Tandem bike market.

Regional Bike Touring – some looking for 7 to 10 days of bike touring.  Some want 2 to 3 days in one area, then move to another area.

For day rides or loops, need a good halfway-point stop for lunch, restroom, something to do or see.  Less than 50 miles is preferred, quite roads, and lodging in small towns walkable to dining, etc.

Adaptive cycling.

Long distance, multi-day touring.

Competitive events (Ironman, Tinman, Black Fly, Battenkill, etc.)

Mtn Biking is destination-based marketing – for example Inlet/Old Forge, or Tri-Lakes area – need to promote that it is a destination where lots of riding can be found.

Women riders.

Intermediate level road riders – 30 mile rides.

Weekend rider.

Canadian visitors.

Day trippers.

Cross-state and Cross-country cyclists.

Promote Combos – Raft & Ride, Bike & Train, Camp & Bike, Birding & Biking

Topic 3: What types of marketing messages might be most attractive to each segment?

Cycle the Green Side of the Apple – plays of the current I Love NY campaign that highlights “green” tourism, by which they mean outdoor recreation – so extra focus on the Adirondacks.  New campaign also focuses on family, arts and history.

Develop a logo – so can be use to welcome bicyclists – stickers on windows or doors of shops, restaurants, etc.  Bike friendly – have bike racks, water, food, etc. that bicyclists are looking for.

Bring Your Bike”   BYB

Safe”  Some people are afraid of the woods.

Like to be on the Wild side

Hooks:  promote RR and putting your bike on the train.

Suggest itineraries.

Promote diversity of accommodations.

Tie-in with current activities – Mtn Man is doing new write-ups of bike rides in the Old Forge area (Matt M.).  McCauley Mtn is planning a new race series.

Need to do Regional and sub-Regional branding.

Great photos.

Lat/Long

Need to make sure we have good trail signage so they enjoy the rides, tell their friends and come back.

That we are kid friendly – kids can run, yell and have fun.

“Big Shoulders” – Come take a ride on our Big Shoulders.

Towns separated by wildlands.

On the easier theme – Easy Adirondacks, Gentle side of the Adirondacks.

Walkable and Bikeable small towns, downtowns.

Easily accessible, bike friendly communities.

Seasonal opportunities.

Bicycling for Everyone.

Develop Face Book page.

St. Lawrence County – from Mountains to Seaway

Lunch Session: Overview of New & Ongoing Activities

Upper Hudson River Rail Trail – Curt Austin, proposed 30-mile rail-trail conversion of the old Tahawus mine RR line.  Corridor is in private hands, negotiations for sale underway.  Corridor borders Forest Preserve, not wilderness.  Permitting of the conversion is at the beginning stage.  More info at: http://www.upperhudson.org/Upper_Hudson_Rail_Trail/Home.html

Gear-To-Go Tandem Bikes – largest Tandem selection in the U.S., now located in Saranac Lake, Rich Shapiro.  Holding their annual tandem event in Saranac Lake for the first time after 17 years in Elmira, last week of June.   More info at: http://www.gtgtandems.com/index2.html

Harvey Botzman, Cyclotour Guide Books and NY Bicycle Coalition – Quick update on bike-related laws in progress.  A Complete Streets law is held up, counties concerned about added cost.  Federal Complete Streets law will include dollars for improvements.  Higher penalties for drivers injuring bicyclists are being considered.  A new law promoting a 3-foot passing distance around bicyclists is working its way through the NY State legislature.  More info at:  http://www.nybc.net/ and    http://www.cyclotour.com/events.htm#New%20York

NYS DOT issuesFewer maintenance dollars available.  Shoulder maintenance especially is declining.  Starting to lose some of our shoulders and alligator cracking is become more prevalent along the shoulders.  As a result, DOT is now proposing to take down the “Bike Route signs on many or all of the signed Bike Routes, as the shoulders are not longer represent the great bicycling opportunity that they have in the past.  Ed Franz is who to talk to about corridor management plans.

Work Session: Better Internet Visibility for Bicycling Opportunities

Topic 1:  What’s the most important descriptive information to display online about each ride?

Number of key features mentioned include:  Distance, Terrain, Technical Ability, Views, Rest Stops, Other Activities.

Look at the new Google Map Biking Tool, debuted March, 2010, maybe it can be incorporated – : http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/biking-directions-added-to-google-maps.html

Test out the Google Map – Biking tool at: http://maps.google.com/maps?hq=http://maps.google.com/help/maps/directions/biking/mapleft.kml&ie=UTF8&ll=37.687624,-122.319717&spn=0.346132,0.727158&z=11&lci=bike&dirflg=b&f=d&utm_campaign=en&utm_medium=van&utm_source=en-van-na-us-gns-bd

It includes a feedback tool to suggest corrections or changes.

Consider the success and any lessons learned from the Tour of the Battenkill, the largest bike ride in the U.S. during the past 2 years, located in Washington County, in the SE portion of the ANCA region.  More info at:  http://tourofthebattenkill.com/ Interesting to note that they use Map-My-Ride to show their route, a very popular tool for bike route mapping:  http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-states/ny/cambridge/844124179194287941

See a PDF of the course map at: http://tourofthebattenkill.com/wp-content/uploads/Course-Map.pdf

Other online bike route mapping programs are http://www.pedaling.com and http://www.bikely.com/listpaths/country/254

Need more visibility for biking opportunities in the southern Adirondacks.

Connectivity – creates image of a bicycling area – not just a collection of rides.

Topic 2 & 3:  What useful features have you seen on other bicycling websites & how should we use or improve them?  What other types of online information would be most helpful to cyclists planning a visit to the region?

Try to include road work advisories – suggest a link to http://www.511ny.org/traffic.aspx

Identify leisurely day trips.  40 miles per day is the average distance on the tandem bike tours.  Trips of 30 to 40 miles are average for Inn-to-Inn tours and allow time to stop for views, museums, shopping, leisurely meals, etc.

Mark the Best Routes, somehow.

Use a Facebook Page to promote biking in the region.

The website design needs to be flexible, allow new routes, etc. to be easily added.

Consider a “mobile” version of the site, for phones, etc.

Highlight local connections to history.

A discussion list could be useful.  One approach is to keep it separate from the main site, so those interested can seek it out.  Sometimes learn more from a discussion list than from the main website.  Instead of sending an email, a potential visitor could post a question about where to find a certain type of biking in a particular area.  Would need avid cyclists or tourism specialists committed to monitoring and answering the questions.

A feedback section for specific rides and routes could be useful.  Would require management to review the comments and approve them.

Give cumulative route and trail mileage estimates for areas – such as the Old Forge/Inlet/Raquette Lake area has 125 miles of single track and 250 miles of road riding (a made-up example).

Mountain Biking area are like Nordic skiing areas, majority of the users ride the main trails, the inner loops, while there are always someone that want to ride the more challenging outer loops.

Hub & Spoke is one way to think about promoting biking opportunities online.  Heavily promote the hubs where a majority of the biking occurs, while featuring the spokes that link areas, or that attract a sub-set of riders.

Should try to identify:  public bathrooms, parking area, and trails that are closed for the season.

Educate users on riding in the Wild Forest.

Perkins Clearing near Speculator has its management plan nearing completion.  Currently is the location of Speculator’s Mtn Biking trails and there is the potential for additional featured rides.  Also need to explore possible loops and linkages back to town, to the camp ground, etc.

Might need to better mark trails on the ground – such as where logging is occurring, etc.

Consider an “adopt a trail” program for the features trails, using example of the River Keeper program, or a similar program along the Jack Rabbit Ski trail, where volunteers keep an eye on the trail, addressing fallen trees, bridge deterioration, etc.

Offer itineraries or provide links to itineraries.  In addition to bike shop and Chamber links, have links to touring companies, guidebooks, etc.

Suggested Ride and Route Information

Take Bike Routes 11 and 8 (9 ?) from the NYSDOT website.

Rochester? And Genesee Trans Council have bike maps (gtcmpo.org)

Greater use of Adk Scenic RR for biking

Speculator-Lake Pleasant working on a road-side bike path

Lake Pleasant has GPS maps for at least 2 loops.

Montgomery County has Canal Way Trail, Bike Rt 5 and 5 S, near gateway to Adk Scenic Byway.  Also Rt 30A and Rt 30.

Communities and groups need community assistance for developing appropriate recreation facilities and help in working through the permitting.

Maps provided for: McCauley Mountain, Speculator area, Lake George-Glens Falls, and others will be made available.

For more information, contact Tim Holmes, Holmes & Associates: adkresearch@gmail.com, 518-637-1444

Holmes & Associates is working on behalf of the Adirondack North Country Association as project consultant for the Scenic Byways On-Line Bicycle Mapping Project, a New York State Scenic Byways Program project managed by the Adirondack North Country Association, funded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation.

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