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2016 in Review: Great Year for The Circuit Trails

IMG_2050An important component of the Bicycle Coalition’s mission is to work to promote the successful build out of the Circuit Trails, Greater Philadelphia’s network of connected trails.

Multi-purpose trails makes bicycling more accessible to more people and draws them into the sport and mode. They also bring more people to the outdoors and provide access to some of the region’s most important natural resources; rivers and watersheds. The Circuit is the only transportation network that unites the region via ribbons of green infrastructure, connecting people to their own communities, parks and destinations.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia serves in a leadership position of the Steering Committee for the Circuit Coalition, the incredible collaboration of 65 organizations that is working throughout the nine counties to advance the Circuit.

Through the hard work of those organizations and multiple municipal, state and federal agencies and support of thousands of committed trail advocates, the Circuit reached a total of 320 completed miles of trails, with an additional 70 miles currently in progress.

At the end of 2016, we want to celebrate their accomplishments and say thank you. Check out the incredible organizations who helped the Circuit get where we are today.

2016 was a busy year for the Circuit, to say the least. This year, the Circuit Coalition launched a new brand, opened miles and miles of new trails, secured millions in new funding and continued to create a pipeline of new trails for the future.  And the best part? You all got out on the trails in record numbers

Opening Weekend & Campaign Launch

April was an especially busy time—The Circuit Coalition revealed a brand-new look, website and campaign to better connect all our residents and visitors to everything that’s happening #onthecircuit. The campaign launch coincided with Opening Weekend for Trails with trail happenings across the region, where we encouraged you all to get out there and show why you are Proud to Trail.

From runs to rides, and clean-ups to free fitness classes on the Manayunk Bridge, we definitely embraced spring with open arms after an especially cold winter. It was wonderful to see everyone out-and-about and enjoying the beginning of the warm weather, signaling a busy season for all the trails in the region! We even got a surprise visit from Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin (avid cyclist and Philadelphia-lover), who helped garner some additional excitement for the event. Who knows who might make a surprise visit this April!

Miles and Miles of New Trails

Over the course of 2016, 11.85 miles of new trails were added to the Circuit Trails network, and many more entered the design and construction phases! Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania and Burlington and Mercer counties in New Jersey enjoyed new segments. Among these segments were a few highly-anticipated openings that definitely got folks talking about the Circuit!

In August, Sullivan’s Bridge, which connects the Schuylkill River Trail to the trails of Valley Forge National Historic Park, opened to great fanfare. This critical link increases recreational opportunities and promotes greener travel patterns, while also improving visitor access to the Park. Plus, the long-awaited bridge has beautiful views, too.

In mid-December, a ribbon cutting ceremony officially marked the opening of a new segment of the D&L Trail in Bucks County, which connects two existing segments of the Delaware Canal Towpath creating seven miles of continuous trail and significantly improving safety for all our trail-users.

Sullivan’s Bridge in Montgomery County opened on August 18, 2016 – 23 years in the making.

Green Lane Connector gets a ribbon cutting on December 15, 2016

Funding support is coming in strong!

In 2016, the Circuit Trails received more than $19 million in new funding for planning, design, and construction of new trails. This funding not only allows our Coalition Members to expand the region’s vast network of trails, but also helps continuously improve the safety and quality of all our trails. Funding support came from federal, state, local and private grants including more than $4 million in approved grants from the William Penn Foundation.  Here’s to hoping that 2017 is just as successful as 2016!

How many people enjoy the Circuit Trails, exactly?

Great question! We wondered the same thing, which is why DVRPC has been working to capture this information.  There are now 15 trail counters placed along the Circuit Trails that capture bicycle and pedestrian use and wirelessly report data every 15 minutes. How cool is that? If you’re into data, check here to see detailed statistics of trail usage in the region. SPOILER ALERT—the Schuylkill Banks are pretty popular. As in 1.7M uses, popular! System-wide, DVRPC has recorded more than 3M uses in 2016 (as of 11/30). We think that’s pretty amazing!

A bicycle and pedestrian counter on the Cooper River Trail in Collingswood

If you’re interested in learning more about the Circuit Trails’ 2016, check out November’s semi-annual meeting presentation. Check back on our blog shortly to see what’s in store for the Circuit Trails in 2017! As always, stay up-to-date with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram–we’d love to hear from you!

A version of this blog appeared originally on the CircuitTrails.org blog

Topics: Biking the Suburbs, Featured, The Circuit

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