Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail Surpasses 100,000 Annual Uses in 2018!

2018 marked a banner year for the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail. This two mile rail-to-trail conversion is a recreation and activity hub with a skate park, community park, dog play area, and bicycle sharing system. Use of the Trail climbed over 100,000 annual uses for the first time in the life of the facility to 131,198. It is, arguably, the most used recreation facility in Spartanburg.

It also is a place that, at one time, was the railroad tracks that separated the downtown and eastside of the Spartanburg community. Now is a place that is enjoyed and celebrated by a diverse group of users.

“One of the great qualities of the MBF Rail Trail is that it is used by so many people and truly builds a connected community. You see casual walkers, intense runners, skateboarders, BCycles, families, retirees, a variety of ethnic groups,” said Laura Ringo, Executive Director.

 

Timeline of the MBF Rail Trail – the amenities along the Trail have increased over time. Some of the highlights in the development of the facility include:

2006: The Mary Black Foundation Rail Trails opens as part of the Palmetto Trail

2009: Hot Spot Skate Park opens next to the Henry St. trailhead

2011: Partners for Active Living installs a Spartanburg BCycle kiosk

2012: Partners for Active Living and the City of Spartanburg spearhead the Rail Tail Dog Park

2012: Thomas Hannah YMCA opens along the Trail

2016: The Rail Yard Trolley is the first feature added at the park turning an abandoned 7 acres into a community destination

2018: NFL Play 60 added at The Rail Yard

 

History of use

2009: 24,820 annual uses         (measured by Furman University)

2012: 65,449 annual uses         (measured by Furman University)

2017: 94,206 annual uses         (TrafX infrared counter)

2018: 131, 198 annual uses       (TrafX infrared counter)

 

Meet MBF Rail Trail users – what are they saying about their experience?!

Monique Watson: “The Rail Trail continues to be my first option to stay active and moving within walking distance of my home.  The addition of equipment has only improved exercise options at no cost.” (contact: baccllc.maw@gmail.com)

Tracy Splawn: “I have looked for years for an exercise that I liked to do. I walked the Rail Trail and saw people riding the B-Bikes. I tried them and I was hooked. I found the exercise that I LOVE!! I try to ride every day (even in the cold winter) if it's not raining. I ride an hour to hour and half a day. I joined the B-Bikes as a member 2 and half years ago and I have rode a total of 2,202.1 miles total. Last year I rode 773 miles, made 153 trips and saved $ 950.88. I love riding on The Rail Trail because you see different people and dogs. It is a safe place to ride. Riding the bike makes me feel happy and it is a GREAT stress reliever.”  (contact: 864.497.3633)

Mary Mathes: “I've lived downtown for 10 years and the MBT is part of my urban life.   I'm on the trail 3-4 days a week and enjoy every minute of my walks there.  Each trail day I look forward to the exercise, to being outdoors, and to seeing familiar faces. The trail has become my quiet place.” (contact: 864.541.2115) 

Tony Thompson: “The Rail Trail is a fountain of youth... Riding a bike makes you feel like a kid again, and the RT is an excellent ride without the stress of auto traffic.” (contact: 864.340.2493)

Additional comments

“The [MBF] Rail Trail not only serves as the hub for health, wellness and play. It is the perfect example of how to connect and build community,” – Kim Moultrie, City of Spartanburg Parks & Recreation Director

“The Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail is a tremendous resource that provides a variety of different opportunities for people of all ages to be physically active. Whether they are using the exercise equipment, running, biking, pushing a stroller, walking a dog, or playing on the playground, you will see all kinds of people on the trail. The Rail Trail has become an active living destination!” – Molly Talbot-Metz, President/CEo of Mary Black Foundation.

 

What’s next for the MBF Rail Trail – The Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail will serve as the spine of an urban trails system with connections to each end coming soon. In addition, there is an opportunity for residents to volunteer to improve the corridor and soon enjoy a bike park.

  • On Monday, January 21 from 9:00-11:00 am: Partners for Active Living, the Trees Coalition, and United Way of the Piedmont will clean up bamboo along the Trail for MLK Day of Service. Users are encouraged to bring water and gloves. Meet at the Trolley at the Rail Yard at Forest Avenue.
  • In March, bike park construction should begin at The Rail Yard.
  • In the summer, construction is expected to begin on the trail connection from Henry Street to Barnet Park through the downtown corridor.
  • In 2021, the Country Club Road corridor improvement will include a three mile trail connection from the Country Club Road end of the trail to Glendale Shoals.

 

2018 use charts – “In addition to capturing raw data about trail use, we can see which times, days and months are busiest on the Trail. It looks like we use it every day, but really prefer the fall and spring months,” said Trails Coordinator Ned Barrett.