Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pedaling Through the Park

Note:  Governor O'Malley recently declared "Healthy Maryland Week" to highlight the importance of wellness, which includes daily physical activity.   This is the first of two posts on the exercise options we provide at Camden Yards.

Every year I look forward to the Annual "Tour Dem Parks" celebration of the Gwynns Falls Trail.  This was the 10th anniversary of the ride, and the 5th since Camden Yards officially "joined" the trail by opening our pedestrian bridge at the Hamburg light rail stop.  Until then, the trail had to bypass the complex because the bridge was only unlocked for events.

By 2008, we had those legal issues resolved, the gate opened for regular use (which was greatly appreciated by light rail passengers) and the trail designated with an attractive historic marker relating the history of the M&T Bank Stadium site.

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon, a cycling enthusiast, officially unveiled the trail marker on one of her Friday morning pre-dawn rides with her staff. 

With that, MSA became a part of the Gwynns Falls Trail family.

A few years later, a larger kiosk-style wayfaring sign was added to the south entrance of our complex.  It also has historic information about Camden Yards as a railroad hub, and a map which has proven very helpful to confused visitors looking for directions to town or the light rail.

One reason I love "Tour Dem Parks" is that it gives us a chance to show off our continuing environmental efforts along the trail to the 1,000+ who participate.  This Sunday, our rain garden (where the kiosk is located) was neatly groomed.  The swale along the GFT had been newly planted with ornamental grasses that absorb parking lot runoff, and new perennials covered the hill beneath the bridge.  Our segment of the ride was lovely.

Yes, we've come a long way since we joined the Gwynns Falls Trail.

For us, the 13 mile bike route that connects I-70 with the Inner Harbor goes beyond a source of recreation and fitness.  It has become an increasingly popular transportation option for many of our fans. 

In fact, a lot more than you would guess.

Here is one tailgater who prefers pedaling to the park instead of fighting traffic.  Cyclists are not just fair weather fans.  This January 15th, the coldest football day of the 2011-12 season, the bicycle rack at the stadium security station was filled before 10:00 AM for the playoff.

Cycling to the stadium is not only cheaper because of fuel and parking costs, it is far more expedient when 70,000+ people are all trying to leave at the same time.  With a bicycle, you can be enjoying post-game festivities at the Purple Patio before most fans get to their cars or buses.

Maryland Stadium Authority has made an effort over the past few years to make our complex more bicycle-friendly -- with more racks, better signage, and outreach to the local bicycle community to use this option.

MTA has done likewise -- with new racks at Camden Station's MARC pavillion, and bike-carrying buses.

Bicycling is one of the best cardio workouts you can give yourself on the path to wellness.  But, as we know here at Camden Yards, it is also an environmentally friendly, economical way to get around town.

Whatever your reason for choosing two wheels over four, be assured you will be welcome here -- or passing through -- Camden Yards.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so bummed I missed this! I was planning to be in the area for business, and I had even traveled with my bike, but a last minute schedule change forced me to miss it. Maybe next year...