By Benjamin Harris

With a whole slew of speakers representing Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, the Pennsylvania Active Transportation Forum was a huge success on Saturday in Norristown. Speakers discussed a wide range of topics including current trial projects, public outreach initiatives, and infrastructure connectivity. Planners and representatives gave updates on trail projects and strategies to improve and expand the suburban cycling infrastructure, and how they’re building walkable and bikeable suburban communities.

Some the overall themes were…

  • Connectivity
  • Equity
  • Safety
  • Education
  • Enforcement
  • Health and Environmental Sustainability
  • Creating Vibrant Economies
  • Levels of Traffic Stress

Local, state and regional officials discussed the future of suburban bike advocacy after the recent modification of the Bicycle Occupancy Permit (BOP), which was a hindrance to bike lane implementation. How the modification of the BOP is changing the future of suburban bike lanes, and many suburban communities have found creative ways to implement bike infrastructure.

With the emergence and growing popularity of E-Bikes and scooters, that was a large topic of conversation. E-Bikes have created an opportunity to open up connectivity and distance barriers that have limited many people from even considering cycling to their destination. Maggie Gendron of Lime, the dock-free bike and scooter rental company, talked about the advantages and challenges of dock-less vehicles, many of them electric, and how their bikes and vehicles are bringing a wider audience that would’ve likely driven instead.

While the cost of an E-bike is a little too high for many riders, some argued that there are plenty of advantages, such as the increased hauling capacity achievable and a great solution for seniors and those who can’t cycle like they used to. E-Bikes are a viable means of transportation for a large group of individuals and families, and are likely to be a substitute or a replacement for a car to many people.

The unique aspect of this forum was that the cycling community could hear from and have their questions answered by those representing a large geographic area, and not just those in their immediate community. It was a great place to learn from what other municipalities have achieved, are working on, and are planning. A sharing of ideas and success stories that could be implemented elsewhere throughout the region.

Through advocacy and education, the Bicycle Coalition leads the movement to make bicycling a safe and fun way to get around for anyone in Greater Philadelphia. We’re a member-funded organization, and we can’t advocate for building out the region’s bicycle network without your support. Join or donate today to partner with us and make your ride better.

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