Bike DelCo: Pushing the Edges of Possibility

by | September 20, 2022 | Biking the Region, Connecting Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Network | 0 comments

Authored by: James Bergman, Bike Delaware County Affiliate

In the past half-year, Bike Delaware County has grown to become a regular presence in Delaware County. We have assembled a fourteen-member action team, hosted two rides in the spring and are co-sponsoring at least 3 in the fall, and have begun outlining areas of intervention for safe bicycling–the many “Edges of Possibility” Delco has to offer. Our rides involve routes stitched together through individual trial-and-error, community-generated routes that are gaining increasing Township approvals like the Main Line Greenway, and bona-fide bike trails in the works throughout the county. As a McSweeney’s piece recently implied, we have a lot of work to do to make biking safe in this country, and that includes making bicyclists’ presence known and normal to residents.  

In April, a group of about three dozen people gathered in support of the Main Line Greenway, a low-stress, grass-roots bicycle route connecting a variety of side streets and trails in Montgomery and Delaware Counties. The route extends between West Laurel Hill Cemetery on the eastern end and Stoneleigh Gardens on the western end. The group rode the western end of the Greenway, from Haverford College into Lower Merion Ward 10, to Bryn Mawr College, then Rosemont and Villanova, before ending at Stoneleigh and returning through Radnor Township and Haverford Township. We had a wonderful mix of families and students, along with residents from all of the involved townships and boroughs. Special thanks to Lou Savastani, chair of Bike Montco, who volunteered to co-lead the 4/24 ride.

Riding the Greenway route near Bryn Mawr College.

Although most of the Greenway is, so far, in Montgomery County, it benefits biking in Delaware County in several ways. The Greenway winds through the campuses of Haverford College and Villanova University in Delco, and contributors to its Wiki page have identified numerous bikeable extensions from Delaware County: A route from the western end of the Greenway snakes over to the Radnor Trail via bicycle paths on the campuses of Villanova University and Radnor High School, though it does involve an extremely hairy crossing of some on- and off-ramps of 476 along high-stress Lancaster Avenue. A spur connecting the MLG to the Pennsy Trail, in Haverford, could become a route to Upper Darby once the Pennsy Trail bridge over Manoa Road is completed (Note: Project timeline shown in planning documents are delayed). If we take into account the routes identified on our June ride, the Greenway’s reach could extend as far south as Collingdale. 

Coming off of the Lindbergh Bridge, right near an entrance to the soon-to-be-extended Darby Creek Trail.

As we ramp up our activities, we hope to see many more potential Greenways in other parts of our county, joining spurs of the Circuit Trails and the planned greenways of Delaware County. To that end, a few members of the team regrouped, joined by some Havertown bike enthusiasts, in June for a small ride along one of our members’ favorite routes. Like the Greenway, the route exemplifies the crowdsourced efforts of longtime cyclists looking for safe ways to cycle. The route stretched from Collingdale to House Cup Coffee Roasters in Haverford and then looped back through Upper Darby. One of the great things about our rides is that they give us a user’s experience of Delco’s roads. We saw what worked: Edmonds Avenue turned out to be a really great, low-stress route; Bridge Street leads to a Circuit Trails connection at the entrance to the Darby Creek Trail. And we saw what could work: if Marple Avenue had a two-way cycle track, it would be an excellent route to the only safe crossing of Baltimore Pike (and, incidentally, the best route to that Darby Creek Trailhead); if a bike trail were built in Naylor’s Run Park, cyclists could avoid a stressful ride down the high-speed, shoulder-less Garrett Road between Beverly Hills Middle School and Clearbrook Avenue. We clearly weren’t the only ones noticing the utility of a Naylor’s Run Park trail. In their recently released Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails Network, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council announced that sections 6, 7, and 8 of the Newtown Square Branch of the Circuit Trails were among the top ten highest-priority gaps in the Circuit Trails network (see, in particular, p. 19). 

The end of our ride at the Harris School in Collingdale.

Mark your calendars for these fall events

  • We’re teaming up with the National Youth Bike Council for Youth Bike ‘n Bite – an all ages, no-drop, community ride along the Main Line Greenway, once again, in conjunction with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
  • On November 12, Bike Delco and the Bicycle Coalition are teaming up with Youth Development United to host a bike rodeo on the Chester Waterfront. The location is right by Subaru Park and the portion of the East Coast Greenway along the Chester waterfront.
  • In November, date TBD, we’re hosting our next Edges of Possibility ride, with a view toward exploring routes in central Delco, including Springfield, Media, and Swarthmore.

Do you have suggestions for rides in the spring? Do you know of a particular project that needs our support or input? Do you just want to get more involved in the Bike Delco Action Team? Let us know! Contact the Bicycle Coalition’s Regional Organizer at patrick@bicyclecoalition.org.

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