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East Coast Greenway - any first-hand experiences?

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East Coast Greenway - any first-hand experiences?

Old 12-22-10, 02:59 PM
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East Coast Greenway - any first-hand experiences?

Thinking about doing the ECG starting in mid April, northbound. Will start in either Miami or Key West depending on conditions, go north for as long as we can until it's time to head home. We have 6 weeks.

I've seen several websites and have downloaded cue sheets, but still have some questions.

How are the non-completed parts of the route (in other words, the public roads)? Light traffic? Shoulders?

Any questionable areas?

Camping and lodging - we are hoping to do both, maybe two or three to one, camping to motels. What can we expect in terms of expense and availability of both campgrounds, motels, and stealth camping opportunities?

Prevailing winds in late spring? Humidity?

TIA
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Old 12-24-10, 04:33 PM
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For places to stay try checking Warmshowers.org. Parts of Mass & Conn are on many different types of roads from back roads to rail trails. I can only give some info on these areas
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Old 12-27-10, 01:25 PM
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Out of curiosity, I looked that PA page. I can't believe the way they sugarcoat it. Sidewalks? It's illegal to ride on the sidewalks in Philadelphia (and most likely the other municipalities it passes through) if you are over the age of 12. And that pleasant part south of the city? Can you say Chester, PA? I don't like to drive through Chester. At least they note that there are a total of 17 miles of gaps where no feasible routing has been found. Looked the entire map for PA. Not much fun riding. And don't expect to find any camping. Indoor lodging will be expensive.

The NJ portion has some better sections, speciafically the D&R canal. But once you get into northern Jersey it's urban combat riding at its finest.

Don't come up this far if you are expecting something like the Route Verte in Quebec.
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Old 12-27-10, 01:53 PM
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could not recommend this trip

I love the concept of the ECG and I hope that vision is pursued with great vigor and in the long run is successful. The problem, at this time, with using it as the focus of a long tour is the parts that are still on the road(75%). Trying to connect existing trail segments with on-the-road segments often puts you on some dangerous roads. Just looking at the parts I know in GA and SC make me nervous.

A much better alternate would be the Atlantic Coast Route of the Adventure Cycling Association. That route is design to be on safer roads. Of course, over a route that long there are always some dicey areas, but they are few on ACA routes. No doubt the ACA route will get you near some of the ECG off road routes and may even use them giving you a chance to experience the future ECG a little bit.
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Old 12-27-10, 05:57 PM
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Thanks for the replies. Good stuff to know. I'm reconsidering this route. Urban combat riding is definitely not what I'm looking for, especially considering my riding partner is a newbie to biking, let alone touring. Also, the Greenway's website leaves a lot to be desired. Unless I've totally missed it, information on lodging/camping, traffic, road conditions, etc., is totally missing or is so dispersed as to make it very difficult to plan. Each state's segment seems to be on a separate site as well, adding to the disjointed nature of this one, single 'greenway.' It definitely needs to be better organized.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-28-10, 10:03 AM
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As noted above, AC's Atlantic Coast route would be a much better option. I once did it from Bar Harbor, ME to Philadelphia. Was not a huge fan of the developed areas in ME, but a good route overall. I never had much of a problem finding camping. But note that it can be insanely expensive in the northeast. The cheapest you will likely fine is state parks. I think NY charged around $17/night for a basic tent site last year. NJ chaged $20. Private places may hit you up for $30-$35 or more.
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Old 12-28-10, 10:20 AM
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Adventure is adventure. Some sense of risk and uncertainty should be an acceptable part of any trek like this. If you want something different, head for Disney. Just b/c someone is poor and black doesn't mean that they are bloodthirsty bke thieves.

I live on the ECG in Connecticut, and my commutes and shopping trips take me through "dicey" areas. Sometimes the guys hanging out on the street will make comments - "sell me that helmet!" etc.

Residents of tougher neighborhoods see a LOT of people who use bikes for transport -- immigrants who may not have a legal license and guys who just plain don't have cars. It's certainly not seen as cool, but in some ways you'll be less out of place than riding through the richest neighborhoods.

The reality is if you're not a drug dealer encroaching on someone's territory or business or starting fights in a nightclub, you're probably not going to be taking any bullets.

I invite you to reconsider. The ECG needs thru riders like you to make it a reality. You're right to notice that it is somewhat less than a reality at the moment, but who's going to make it one?
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Old 12-28-10, 12:59 PM
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My reference to dicey areas was about traffic and road conditions, not neighborhoods.
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Old 12-28-10, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Standalone
Adventure is adventure. Some sense of risk and uncertainty should be an acceptable part of any trek like this. If you want something different, head for Disney. Just b/c someone is poor and black doesn't mean that they are bloodthirsty bke thieves.
Huh? What does race have to do with any of this? Disney? Bloodthirsty bike thieves? You are reading a lot into this that simply isn't there.

When I first read about the ECG it sounded as though it was a combination of bike paths and lightly-traveled roads, but the more I read the more it sounds like lots of heavy traffic and a confusing maze of roadways in densely populated areas, in addition to the 25% or so pathways. That is something I simply do not enjoy, and is not something I want to drag a newbie rider into the middle of. Not to mention, motels/camping opportunities sound expensive. This is just not what I'm looking for.
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Old 12-28-10, 08:59 PM
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ACA's Atlantic Coast Route

I would also recommend Adventure Cycling's Atlantic Coast route:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...anticcoast.cfm

I did a lot of the route in 2008, as part of a longer self-supported tour:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/jefflee08

Except for a (probably unavoidable) busy stretch around Washington, DC, I really liked the route. The New Jersey and Connecticut sections were very pleasant surprises, and the entire Northeast part of the route was really nice.

I don't know anything at all about the East Coast Greenway.

Oh - there is something else you might want to look at if you want to stay as close as possible to the actual coast (Adventure Cycling's route goes inland several times, presumably to stay on quieter roads): There is a book by Donna Ikenberry that describes a somewhat different Atlantic Coast route than Adventure Cycling's:

https://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Atla...3591117&sr=1-3

Jeff
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Old 12-29-10, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffL
I would also recommend Adventure Cycling's Atlantic Coast route:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...anticcoast.cfm

I did a lot of the route in 2008, as part of a longer self-supported tour:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/jefflee08

Except for a (probably unavoidable) busy stretch around Washington, DC, I really liked the route. The New Jersey and Connecticut sections were very pleasant surprises, and the entire Northeast part of the route was really nice.

I don't know anything at all about the East Coast Greenway.

Oh - there is something else you might want to look at if you want to stay as close as possible to the actual coast (Adventure Cycling's route goes inland several times, presumably to stay on quieter roads): There is a book by Donna Ikenberry that describes a somewhat different Atlantic Coast route than Adventure Cycling's:

https://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Atla...3591117&sr=1-3

Jeff
Read a couple of your pages.

1. TastyKakes are from Philadelphia.
2. Don't be fooled by the Amish and Menonite kids. Some of them can drop you like that in their farming clothes. I once drafted a teenage girl wearing a dress riding an old 10 speed with a milk carton on the back and a rear Campy disc wheel. Lancaster County, PA is, after all, where Floyd Landis is from.
3. Wawa is a huge, privately owned chain of convenience stores. The name means "goose" in some Native American language, hence the goose on their logo.
4. People from New Hope do think people from Lambertville are hicks. But guess what. L'Ville is cooler than New Hope. Way cooler. Better bars. Better art. Better food. Nicer archcitecture.
5. Too bad you didn't take the trail from L'Ville to Frenctown. It's quite nice. That part of NJ (Hunterdon and Warren Counties) is beautiful. Hard to believe that you are in the most densley populated state in the U.S. I regularly ride out of Bull's Island, between L'Ville and Frenchtown. It's flat if you stay along the river. But if you want to go east you have to climb. We call that area the Jersey Alps.

6. The narrow road along the river is really cool. The first time I ever rode it was when I took the AC route home from Maine after crossing the country.

Note that AC recently changed the route between Norristown and New Hope based on my recommendation. It's better now (and it still uses pretty Lower Mountian Road), but the because you are so close to one of the largest cities in the country, there is going to be heavy traffic at rush hour. Weekends are much nicer.
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Old 12-29-10, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Standalone
Adventure is adventure. Some sense of risk and uncertainty should be an acceptable part of any trek like this. If you want something different, head for Disney. Just b/c someone is poor and black doesn't mean that they are bloodthirsty bke thieves.

I live on the ECG in Connecticut, and my commutes and shopping trips take me through "dicey" areas. Sometimes the guys hanging out on the street will make comments - "sell me that helmet!" etc.

Residents of tougher neighborhoods see a LOT of people who use bikes for transport -- immigrants who may not have a legal license and guys who just plain don't have cars. It's certainly not seen as cool, but in some ways you'll be less out of place than riding through the richest neighborhoods.

The reality is if you're not a drug dealer encroaching on someone's territory or business or starting fights in a nightclub, you're probably not going to be taking any bullets.

I invite you to reconsider. The ECG needs thru riders like you to make it a reality. You're right to notice that it is somewhat less than a reality at the moment, but who's going to make it one?
Ride around Chester, PA and come back with a report. The city was under a state of emergency earlier this year because of crime. And innocent bystanders have caught stray bullets over the years, including one woman who was sitting in her house. The bullet came through the wall. She's dead.

Crime aside, the vast majoirty of the route through PA simply sucks from a safety perspective. Heavily trafficed roads, some of which carry a lot of truck traffic. There is no nobility in sacrificing yourself to make the ECG a reality. And this is coming from someone who has ridden a bike more miles than he has driven a car.
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Old 12-29-10, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Standalone
Just b/c someone is poor and black doesn't mean that they are bloodthirsty bke thieves.
BTW...While I don't know what color he was and it really doesn't matter, but someone was thirsty enough to break into my house two weeks ago while my GF and I were upstairs watching the news and while lights were on downstair and roll off my with Surly LHT fitted with my irreplacable Robert Beckman Designs rear rack.
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Old 12-29-10, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
BTW...While I don't know what color he was and it really doesn't matter, but someone was thirsty enough to break into my house two weeks ago while my GF and I were upstairs watching the news and while lights were on downstair and roll off my with Surly LHT fitted with my irreplacable Robert Beckman Designs rear rack.
Dude, that sucks! I've had a bike stolen from a locked garage in DC, so I can kinda ampathize, although the bike in question swas not early as nice as an LHT nor did it have such a beautiful rack. Sorry to hear about that...
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Old 12-30-10, 08:13 AM
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Thanks. Forgot to mention that this happened about 4 blocks from the ECG. I sitll have the front rack, but the mounting hardware for it was on the bike. And his panniers, which I also have, only work with his racks. It's an integrated system. I have an email out to him, but I believe he is no longer making gear.

I have not given up all hope. A lot of stolen bikes get sold for drug money and end up in the hands of the homeless and people living in shelters and get ridden around in the open. A lot of this sort of thing is local. A friend of mine had a similar experience. He got in his van and drove around a bad neighborhood near where he lived. He saw a guy riding his bike. While figuring out what to do, the guy stopped and went inside a store. My friend stopped, grabbed the bike, threw it in the back of his van and took off.

Another friend had his Colnago C-40 lifted from inside a synagogue. Two years later some a-hole walked into a bike shop owned by by friend's relative trying to sell the thing for something like $150. To avoid trouble, the shop owner, after confirming ownership (business card stuffed inside the end of the handlebar), simply bought the bike. Amazingly, the bike was in good shape.

The recent snow is melting and it's supposed to be in the 50s this weekend. I am going to keep my eyes open.
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Old 12-30-10, 02:02 PM
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Sorry to hear that indyfabz. Hope you have some luck running it down.
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Old 12-30-10, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffL
I did a lot of the route in 2008, as part of a longer self-supported tour:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/jefflee08
Nice journal, Jeff. Looks like it was quite an adventure.
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Old 12-31-10, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by simplygib
Huh? What does race have to do with any of this? Disney? Bloodthirsty bike thieves? You are reading a lot into this that simply isn't there.

When I first read about the ECG it sounded as though it was a combination of bike paths and lightly-traveled roads, but the more I read the more it sounds like lots of heavy traffic and a confusing maze of roadways in densely populated areas, in addition to the 25% or so pathways. That is something I simply do not enjoy, and is not something I want to drag a newbie rider into the middle of. Not to mention, motels/camping opportunities sound expensive. This is just not what I'm looking for.
Fair enough. Thanks for clarifying. My apologies for going off about it. But of course if you mention "questionable areas" and urban centers of the American Northeast, this is the meaning that people are likely to take. Just look at other comments in the thread.

Your take on the ECG is correct. It's cobbled together, and runs right through the urbanized high traffic east. It is not efficient. I do not use much if any of the route on my commute, which runs between the cities I commute between.

I think you could cobble together an improved version of the ECG by using the regional forums on BF to gather advice from point to point while still taking in most of the ECG's nicer routes...
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Old 12-31-10, 08:31 AM
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Nice reply ...

I used to participate in BF discussions frequently but ran into a few instances where a few people who seemed to have too much time on their hands went off on people (who weren't part of the apparent clique within that particular subject area). The touring forum seems so much nicer than that. I think that some valid points were made here in different areas and it's good to see some working things out and getting at least an understanding of where other people are coming from - rather than a flame-war where everyone moves further apart. Even though we may not, and should not, all agree - at least if people respond in a mature manner and can explain where they are coming from hopefully understandings can develop. I applaud your mature response to some critisism of your initial post.

My wife and I rode our tandem across our state - from the Ohio River to Lake Erie this summer and the urban sections were the worst part. This really had nothing to do with the makeup of the folks in these areas as it did with just how many people there were and the related noise (visual and audible), congestion and general unrelaxed state that we were trying to get away from for a week. I think urban areas are great for a lot of things and cycle commuting is one - but for touring - in our particular case they were no fun at all.

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Old 12-31-10, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Standalone
Fair enough. Thanks for clarifying. My apologies for going off about it. But of course if you mention "questionable areas" and urban centers of the American Northeast, this is the meaning that people are likely to take. Just look at other comments in the thread.
Well, that's true. But just to clarify a little more, I really don't have any desire to tour through high-crime areas either. I don't care one ioda about the racial makeup of the area, but I do care if there is high crime. I used to bike commute through one of the worst areas of Sacramento because there was no practical way around it, but I never liked it. There were lots of gangs, but I figured riding through during commute hours made me a little less conspicuous and maybe a little safer. Never had any problems.

But when I'm on a tour, I really don't want to have to worry about anything like that, especially with my (cherished) gf along, who, incidentally, is not white. On my last tour (Central America) I rode through some unbelievably poor areas, but we (different female riding partner) avoided areas with high crime. The racial makeup of these areas were all the same - but the crime rates weren't. We ended up with nothing but positive experiences and lots of encounters with friendly people, none of them lily-white like us. It was a great experience.

I don't care about race. I do care about crime.
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