Western New York has 219 miles of state trails for visitors to safely enjoy
Submitted by the New York State Department of Transportation
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez announced the importance of bicycle safety during National Bicycle Safety Month, and reminded everyone that roadway safety is a shared responsibility.
The Western New York area, including Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, has a robust network of state trails and bicycle facilities for users to enjoy. As part of its statewide active transportation network, the Department of Transportation has helped design and build thousands of miles of iconic bicycle paths and infrastructure across the state.
“May is National Bicycle Safety Month, and New York state is home to some of the most scenic trails in the country,” Dominguez said. “This is the perfect time of year to get outside, take a bike ride and enjoy the great outdoors in New York. To ensure safety, cyclists should always stay alert, wear a helmet, make sure to wear reflective clothing and use flashing lights, and follow the rules of the road. And for motorists, look out for bikes, never drive distracted, and please share the road.”
There were 938 bicyclist fatalities nationwide in 2020, which accounted for 2.4% of all traffic fatalities during the year. NHTSA early estimates show a 5% increase in bicyclist fatalities in 2021.
Motorists need to drive attentively, slow down and yield to bicyclists. Be sure to give bicyclists room. Don’t pass too closely. Pass them as you would any other vehicle when it is safe to move over into an adjacent lane. In turn, bicyclists need to do their part. Ride with the flow of traffic, obey street signs, signals and road markings. Stay focused and alert and ride defensively by trying to anticipate what others may do before they do it. Be sure to yield to pedestrians, and always wear a helmet, and visible/reflective clothing so that you can be seen.
The department uses a complete streets approach to project design that enables safe access for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. In 2022, the Quaker Run Area multiuse trail was completed within Allegany State Park in Cattaraugus County, providing over five miles of paved pathway proximate to Quaker Lake.
Images courtesy of NYS DOT
Other popular trails in the region include:
√ Shoreline Trail: The Shoreline Trail is a continuous multiuse pathway along Lake Erie and the Niagara River, within both Erie and Niagara counties.
√ Niagara Gorge Rim Trail: This scenic route crosses the Niagara River on a bridge over Goat Island to offer an up-close view of Niagara Falls. Additionally, this path provides access to Devil’s Hole State Park, Whirlpool State Park, and Niagara Falls State Park.
√ Empire State Trail (Erie Canalway Trail): The trail stretches from Buffalo to Albany, linking many communities along the way. In Western New York, the Empire Trail passes by the Flight of Five locks in Lockport. This staircase lock was an early engineering marvel on the Erie Canal, constructed to lower or lift a canal boat over the Niagara Escarpment in five stages. Other attractions in the area include the Locks District Museum, Erie Canal Discovery Center, canal cruises, Lockport Cave tours, Historic Palace Theater, and the Upside-Down Bridge. Recreational features along the trail include Bark Park, Niawanda Park, Broderick Park, Lasalle Park, Lytle Nature Preserve, and Canalside.
√ Lancaster Heritage Trail: The Heritage Trail is a scenic, 4-mile bicycle trail stretching from Walter Winter Drive to Town Line Road in Lancaster. As you travel along, the wooded area will occasionally open up to offer vistas of farm fields and ponds.
√ Tonawanda Rails to Trail: This 3.9-mile trail is composed of two segments on top of a former railroad bed in the Town of Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda.
√ Jamestown Riverwalk (Chautauqua County): The Jamestown Riverwalk is a 5-mile urban trail system that follows the Chadakoin River through the downtown area in the City of Jamestown. This multiuse trail is perfect for walking, jogging, biking and rollerblading. The Jamestown Riverwalk connects with several municipal parks, including Chadakoin Park, Comedy Park, and McCrea Point Park and Boat Launch.
√ Allegheny River Trail: The 6.2 miles of paved trail runs along the Allegheny River and it connects the City of Olean with the Town of Allegany along the Allegheny River in Cattaraugus County. St. Bonaventure University is located along the trail as well.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Biking is an amazing recreational activity and something that should be enjoyed safely. Whether exploring a state park or the thousands of miles of scenic trails that New York State provides, it’s important to always stay alert and wear a helmet.”