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American Trails national book launch event

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American Trails is proud to present this webinar and book launch as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"


Photo of bikes and runners on circular ramp

This webinar, held September 12, 2012, covers the latest issues and policies in planning and designing urban mobility networks, and how to integrate transportation with greenways and trails to create seamless metro-wide systems. See our Blog on The Third Mode...


QUESTIONS and ANSWERS from webinar on The Third Mode


arrow Archived version of this webinar available in the American Trails Online Store!

arrow Jeff Olson’s new book, The Third Mode: Towards a Green Society is now available


Presenters (read more about the presenters below):

photo of bikeway and walkway by street

Major streets in Haarlem, Netherland, have separated,
clearly marked routes for cyclists and pedestrians


Q. Mark asks: How can we use “The Third Mode” to get trails built in our community?

Jeff responded:Great question. The book can help local advocates learn that they are not alone, and each chapter offers examples of lessons learned and best practices. Hopefully your leaders and decision makers will understand the value of trails and make it easier to get your projects on the ground.

Q. Susan asks: What about on street safety particularly for children?

Jeff: See the chapter on Safe Routes to Schools: It’s Hard to be a Saint in the Suburbs. Communities can start with a Safe Routes program, and integrate safer streets for children into a Complete Streets Policy. As a father of three, this is a very important issue personally and professionally. I have often said that the ‘test vehicle’ for street design should be a grandparent pushing a grandchild in a stroller. This will really work when designers build streets as if it were their own parents pushing their children in that stroller.

Robert asks: As a County Park District, we have recently encountered requirements from our County Engineer office for permits for trail crossings and for trails that travel along the road right of way. Our understanding of the law is that pedestrians and bikers should be allowed in the road right of way, our County Prosecutor has argued that trail crossings are different and require permission. Has anyone else encountered requirements for permits for crossing in their communities? It has proved to be quite time consuming and cumbersome for us. Would love some legal resources to refer to.

Andy says: This is an odd story. There is no doubt that there’s sometimes a legal ambiguity as to whether someone on a bike in a trail crossing of a roadway is a pedestrian or a bicyclist – but not really about the legal status of the crossing, or the need for a permit to establish a crossing. I cannot see why a trail or pathway along a road right of way is any different from a sidewalk or other travel lane along that same right of way. Even if a crosswalk isn’t marked, there is a legal right of way for someone on a sidewalk crossing the street. If you are in a community with a local bike advocacy group, there is probably a lawyer not too far away! Ask them to take a look at the issue. I always recommend two firms in Portland as a default – Ray Thomas (Swanson, Thomas and Coons) and Bob Mionske (who writes from Bicycling magazine) are great resources. Look at for contact info.

Q. Ingrid asks: I have a question re language use. Barriers have been used on physical activity, but the leisure/recreation world uses constraints to acknowledge they can be overcome...? Is the use of barriers purposeful for a particular reason or..?

Bob responded: While the language of the ADA has very specific meanings, we also need to address the broader sense of barriers and challenges that the built environment creates within our communities. Freeways, arterial streets and other human-made features are often challenges to creating universal access for people of all ages and abilities.

Q. Jenny asks: Besides this webinar, how can you (meaning today’s presenters) help with efforts at the state, local and national levels?

Jeff responded: I hope that every elected official in the country reads The Third Mode and starts leading a change to a fully integrated green society. The trails community knows that we can create real solutions for health, economics, environment and mobility issues. We all can (and do) work to make change at the personal, community and broader levels. Just remember Edward Abbey’s great comment to be a part time advocate – work hard all morning, but take a hike in the afternoon. We can’t do this every day, but it’s important to deal with change as best we can.

Andy responded: At the National level, I highly recommend attending the National Bike Summit (March 4-7) in Washington DC. It’s a great venue for taking our message all the way to the Congress. As part of our Navigating MAP-21 campaign, we’ve been working with state and local advocacy groups to identify strategies and best, provide training etc to implement the new transportation bill. The AA team has also produced a bunch of reports on everything from funding opportunities to election strategies, and has highlighted success stories from local groups.

Q. Jackie asks: If this stuff is so hard to do, why do you keep doing it?

Andy answered: We do it because we have to! There are so many complex issues that bicycling (and walking) help to address that it is simply imperative that we keep trying to change the way we do business in this country! Whether it is health, climate, energy, environment, equity, congestion or whatever issues require we keep trying. Plus, the people that we get to work with are so much fun!

Q. Michael asks: What about practicality of adverse weather travel?

Andy responded: If you look at a lot of the places that do best for biking and walking in North America, they are northern tier communities. Montreal, Madison, Minneapolis, Boston, Burlington, Cambridge…or they are wet like Vancouver, Seattle and Portland…or hilly like San Francisco. Weather is a factor, but not nearly as much as having safe places to ride. There is a lot of really advanced and practical clothing and equipment that’s available now to deal with cold/wet/hot extremes.

Q. Dennis asks: Regarding Map21, is there an apportionment of funds between RTP, TE and Safe Routes, and additional eligible programs, or is it based on who gets their applications in first (and is eligible)?

Andy responded: No is the simple answer. The Transportation Alternatives (TA) program does away with any more specific set-asides for Safe Routes and Enhancements; there is just one general pot of money for all those kinds of projects (and more). Over the next few weeks/months, states and MPOs will be working out how they are going to spend those TA funds – you want to try and get on the committee or task force that designs the process, establishes the funding criteria, and reviews the applications! And you want to make sure you’ve got some good, ready-to-go projects that you can submit the moment the applications are due!

Q. Francis asks: Can you mention any projects where mountain bike trails have been integrated to city infrastructures, and how has that worked out? Side question: In those projects, was it possible to ride out 15 minutes or so to get to trails?

Andy responded: in our Bicycle Friendly Community program there are a number of gold and silver level communities that are largely there because of their great mountain biking opportunities – Steamboat, Breckenridge, Durango, Park City etc. Some of those places have better on-street and paved trail opportunities than others, and our feedback to those communities is to integrate those two systems ASAP. One community we’ve all worked in – and is documented in the book, is Bentonville, Ark. There is world-class mountain biking within a stone’s throw of a world class art museum that is just a couple of blocks from one of the most delightful and vibrant downtown squares in the South. That’s something to build on!

Q. Dennis asks: How can projects like the East Coast Greenway best interface with the policy environment? Mainly community and states - or should we try to engage the federal process more?

Andy answered: A state and local focus is going to be best...I think you need "shovel-ready" projects again to get into the two-year funding window of MAP-21; segments of the East Coast Greenway are perfect for that. We need to get those trail segments onto the priority funding lists at state and MPO level right now

Q. Madeline asks: Do you see trends moving in a positive direction for the trails community?

Andy responded: definitely positive! At the local level, there is so much happening that’s positive; the list of reasons why we need to get American’s moving again is so long; and we know so much more than we ever did before on how to get that done. We’ve got all kinds of new design guides, research, best practices…we know what we need to do. Our job now is to make sure we ASK and make a compelling case for doing what we know works.


We did not have time to address the following questions during the webinar:

Q. Patrick asks: We have some local residential streets where sidewalks are not possible, the street used to be very walkable till parking demand increased and eliminated refuge spaces in gaps between cars. Are there any studies or resources that show amount of refuge space needed for pedestrians in residential situations?

Jeff: ITE’s Guidelines for Walkable Urban Thoroughfares and the AASHTO Pedestrian Guidelines are good references, but good pedestrian design really needs to happen at the local neighborhood level. There are great streets for walking that don’t have sidewalks (think about a rural two lane with very few cars, or the great Stroget pedestrian streets in Copenhagen, for example). The context of every street is unique, but every trip begins as a pedestrian, so pedestrians should be the foundation of our mobility infrastructure.

Q. Jacob asks: do you know of any examples of urban systems that connect true greenbelt forests with street and multi-use trails. I would love to have systems to look to for avoiding design flaws as well as to get innovations from.

Jeff: Pittsburgh is doing some very innovative work creating new urban forests and a great greenway system. The classic Garden Cities in England created farmland and open space as a core design principle after World War II. The great Olmsted parks systems, including Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Louisville’s 100 mile loop, and others are a legacy we can emulate. Today, this concept of integrating human and natural elements into the built environment is a growing part of the design professions.

Bob: Check out the Denver area Greenways including especially Platte River and Mary Carter Greenways, systems in Boulder and Commerce City, Colorado. See also South Platte Park in Littleton, CO and Ken Caryl Ranch also in Littleton, CO. See also the Jefferson County Colorado Open Space program.

Q. Dennis asks: Why did no one mention Republicans? Who can engage them effectively to respect the 3rd Mode and not be so fearful (ala Agenda 21)?

Jeff responded: Like many ‘Third Mode’ issues, politics in the U.S. is dominated by two opposing parties. Until some third way emerges, politics will continue to be a confrontational back and forth with limited forward progress. Trails are a common good that transcend politics, if we can get people so think in the Third Mode.

Bob: I have worked with some great Republican leaders including the late Joe Shoemaker in Denver who partnered with the Democrat Mayor to build the Platte River Greenway. I have also worked with other outstanding Republicans as individuals. Sadly the Party organization of years of late seem less inclined to partner so until the Party becomes more opened as an organization to non-partisanship and public works projects I guess we need to think outside Party labels. Maybe after the 2012 election, the Party will become more introspective and less confrontational and more willing to partner up for the overall good (My personal observation not an official position of anyone or any organization).

Andy: I don’t know that we mentioned Democrats either, did we? This really isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a partisan issue. Both the last two Presidents have appointed people from the other party to be their Transportation Secretary…Ray LaHood has been spectacular as an R in a D administration. Better than the D in the last R Administration!

Q. Hannah asks: as a point of information, I've never seen this type of request - Darla Cravotta Allegheny County.

Jeff responded: Darla and the team in Allegheny County have created the foundation for an extraordinary regional greenways system. Bob’s work in Denver is similar, and other cities including Kansas City, St. Louis, San Francisco and NYC are creating a new urban form based on greenways.

Q. Brian asks: How about teaming with stormwater & floodplain planning and engineering to use the same riparian corridors and to punch through shred barriers?

Jeff: Absolutely – yes, this is a common approach, and I’d add utilities, fiber optic lines and other linear resources. The Indiana statewide greenways program attempted to create combined corridors with greenways and other forms of infrastructure…although that program didn’t reach its’ full vision, it’s another important model.

Bob: See the partnership between the greenway organizations and the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District in Denver. A real national precedent setter.

Q. Ursula asks: How does this apply to National HISTORIC trails? I am in Phila and working the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) that passes through urban, suburban and rural communities.

Jeff: This is a process supported by the federal land management agencies, and American Trails has good resources at Telling the story of our heritage and culture is one of the great opportunities for trails.

Q. Aaron asks: Getting the word out about "The Third Mode" will help support the progression of the concept. This subject is directly related to TEDTALKS Citys 2.0. Has there been any effort toward bringing this subject to TED's City 2.0?

Jeff: I am ready when you are – since the book just came out, we’d be happy to get involved with TED and other organizations throughout the U.S. and internationally. We appreciate any connections you can help us with.

Q. Dennis asks: Any examples of integration of equestrian trails in the systems talked about today, or other projects?

Jeff: There are some great equestrian trail systems – one good example is the work of American Trails board member Jan Hancock, who helped integrate the equestrian elements of the Arizona Trail into the Grand Canyon Greenway project.



The Third Mode: Towards a Green Society (Purchase the book via this website!)
American Trails new “Resources for Trail Professionals” web portal
NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) ~ Urban Bikeway Design Guide
MAP 21 – Advocacy Advance
AASHTO (American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials) ~ BOOKSTORE
MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices – Chapter 9 Addresses Bikes)
PBIC (Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center)


Presenters for "The Third Mode: Connecting Greenways, Trails and Active Mobility:"

photo of smiling woman

Jeff Olson, Partner - Alta Planning + Design (Author of “The Third Mode”)
Jeff Olson is an architect and planner who has been involved in greenways, open space, active living and alternative transportation projects for more than 20 years. He has had a diverse career with experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. His unique vision and leadership ability are important assets to projects ranging from regional planning to site specific projects and programs. He is an avid bicyclist and skier who has the perspective of a parent with three young children.



Andy  Clarke, President, League of American Bicyclists

photo of man on bicycle

Andy Clarke, with more than 25 years of experience in cycling advocacy, is currently the president of the League of American Bicyclists. His past experience includes stints at Rails to Trails Conservancy, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, the Bicycle Federation of America (now the National Center for Bicycling and Walking), and as a consultant to the Federal Highway Administration. Clarke is a 1984 graduate of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom with an undergraduate degree in law. He is a founding member of  America Bikes and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals. Clarke’s passion for cycling started when he was growing up in England, and has stayed with him through hundreds of thousands of miles of cycling on four continents. He is recognized as a policy expert on almost every aspect of bicycling, and still enjoys a tough climb on his Trek touring bike better than anything else. Clarke lives in Fairfax, Va. with his wife, Kristin, and two children Ashton and Jacqueline.


Bob Searns (moderator), Owner of The Greenway Team and Chair of American Trails Board

photo of smiling woman


Bob is the current Chair of the American Trails Board of Directors. He is the founding owner of The Greenway Team, a planning and development firm based in Denver, CO that has specialized for three decades in greenways, trails, and conservation. He was Project Director of Denver's Platte River Greenway, one of the nation's benchmark urban trail projects, and produced 10,000 Trees, an eight-mile river corridor restoration project involving 3,000 volunteers. He has authored a greenways and trails plan for the 43-square-mile area west of Denver International Airport, as well as trail and greenway projects across the nation including Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, Louisville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Portland. He was a development consultant for the Grand Canyon Greenway, a precedent-setting 72-mile system of multi-use trails along the canyon rim. Bob has conducted workshops throughout North America, China and Europe. He co-authored Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Development (published in the U.S. and. China), Trails for the 21st Century, and contributed to Greenways, The Beginning of an International Movement.

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