Bank On It

Photo by Raffi Berberian

Walkers, runners and cyclists can now add a new path to their outings: the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. The $18 million, 2,000 foot-long concrete structure runs parallel to the eastern shore of the river from Locust Street to the new stair tower at the South Street Bridge, and extends the Schuylkill River Trail.

As part of The Circuit—300 miles of multi-use network of trails throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania with 50 miles in progress and more planned—the Boardwalk provides more direct access to the Trail for residents in South and West Philadelphia. The Boardwalk sits about 50 feet from the shore and its 15-foot wide pathway has four widened overlooks to allow people to rest, fish and take in the Center City and University City views without blocking the main drag.

The entire path is supplemented with solar-powered overhead lights for evening runs and rides. The project was built by Crossing Construction, Weeks Marine Construction, Nucero Electric and All Seasons Landscaping. Boardwalk design and engineering was funded by the City of Philadelphia, and was completed by URS, Pennoni Associates and CH Planning. Ramp design was executed by Michael Baker Engineers. The Boardwalk is part of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation’s plan to connect the Trail on the Schuylkill Banks from the Water Works to Bartram’s Garden by 2016. 

Green Big Year: 100 species and a rare wildlife experience

Snowy Owl, Warren County NJ Jan 2012, Adrian BinnsI’m three weeks into my Big Green Year—my attempt to see as many birds in one year using only environmentally responsible transportation. I’m already up to 100 species. Besides birds I’ve encountered just walking and biking around the city, I’ve take several trips.


I carpooled with my father and two other buddies up to North Jersey for Snowy Owl, a rare visitor from the Arctic, and a Chaffinch, a vagrant bird from Europe. This could be Jersey’s first record of a Chaffinch, if accepted. In each state there are rare bird committees who may determine the bird is an escaped cage bird rather than one way off course migration—known in the bird world as a “vagrant”. Birding is so often about chasing vagrants, often with only one person in a car. So instead, we carpooled and lined up a bunch of vagrants to get maximum bang for our gas.


On the way back from North Jersey we picked up a Say’s Phoebe in Bucks County, a vagrant from the western U.S., and a Clay-colored Sparrow in Pennypack Park, a vagrant from the Midwest. We finished the day at FDR Park in South Philly for a Cackling Goose, also a western vagrant. These were all previously reported birds.


Another trip was to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in my friend’s work hybrid. He had to go to this part of Jersey to pick up snakes from a colleague for environmental education programs, so we able to add some birding to his trip. We picked up many species of duck, which are just now moving south in numbers due to our mild winter. Forsythe is a place I’ll visit many times during my year as I can bike to it from the Absecon New Jersey Transit train station.

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Tony Croasdale: Welcome to my Green Big Year

Tony CroasdaleTony Croasdale is an environmental educator, field biologist and most importantly, avid birder. This year, the Philadelphia resident is blogging for Grid about his mission to observe as many species of bird as possible—what birders call a “Big Year.” The catch? Croasdale is doing all his birding via sustainable transportation.  

When attempting a big year, birders often drive long distances alone or even fly and then, drive to see one species. Huge amounts of fuel are consumed. In general, birding as a hobby tends to be highly fossil fuel consumptive. I want to show a more environmentally responsible way to bird. By carpooling, combining trips, using public transportation and human power, I believe one can still observe large numbers of species in a year. And what better place to do this than Philadelphia? We have ample public transportation and our region combines diverse habitats in a relatively small area strategically located on the Atlantic Flyway. We have one of the best birding locations in the country.

As I attempt to reach my big year goal, I’ll be blogging about my progress, both in observing birds and utilizing green transportation. I do have experience birding the “green” way. I’m part of a bicycle team that competes in the World Series of Birding and in 2009 my tram took first in the Carbon Footprint Cup category. But before I began, I made three rules to ensure I was keeping to the principles of a Green Big Year.

  1. I will only count birds seen from foot, bike, sailboat, human powered watercraft, or public transportation.
  2. I will not count birds if I flew, drove, or was driven to a location specifically for birding. For example, if I flew to Arizona for birding, I cannot count birds on a hike up Madera Canyon.
  3. I can accept a short ride to a birding location if traveled most of the way by an alternate means. For instance, accepting a ride to Militia Hill Hawk Watch after taking the train to Fort Washington. If a vehicle is traveling for another purpose, for business for instance, I can use that trip for birding; a conventional car must have at least three passengers and an alternatively fueled car must have at least two passengers. 


Pedal Pushers: Female cyclists are the key to Philly’s bicycular future. Here’s why—and how to get the spoke-averse in the saddle.

Philadelphia needs to get more women on bicycles, and not just because we look so fine in Lycra.

The biology term “indicator species” is often used to describe female cyclists in urban areas. If the environment is suitable, a 2009 article in Scientific American argues, then the population will flourish. Though it sounds kinda clinical, it’s really just a way of saying women are perhaps the most important demographic for transforming a city with a cycling subculture into one with a cycling-centric city transport ecosystem. Why is that? Essentially, since women are generally more risk-averse than men, women will ride more often only as the perception of safety increases.

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News: TIGER Beat

A U.S. Department of Transportation grant should mean big things for the city’s walkers and bikers

The final weeks before spring—when the itch for the outdoors becomes borderline unbearable—is the perfect timing for this announcement: TIGER, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant Program, has awarded our region $23 million in recovery money to be used towards the development of biking and walking trails.

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