This morning, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) held their Board and Executive Committee meeting which reviewed the updated Draft Connections 2050 Long-Range Plan with a summary of comments received and recommended changes presented by the manager of the long-range plan.

The Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director and Chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition, Sarah Clark Stuart, spoke on behalf of the Circuit Trails, thanking the DVRPC staff for including three of the recommendations from the Circuit Coalition’s letter submitted during the public comment period. Thanks to the support from readers and members like you, DVRPC received a total of 492 comments with 219 of those comments sent on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Circuit Trails Coalition. Additionally, DVRPC received the following comments which had similar goals. Again, we’d like to send a special thanks to 5th Square for encouraging comments, as well.

As a reminder, the 219 comments sent on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition and the Circuit Trails Coalition included recommendations 1 through 6. Recommendations 7 and 8 were submitted separately in the letter submitted and signed by the Circuit Trails Coalition.

Of these recommendations, the Plan has included actions 3, 5 and 6 into the latest draft of the Connections 2050 Plan. The image below shows the key plan changes based on the 492 comments submitted to DVRPC during their 30-day public comment period.

The three recommendations that were implemented into the Plan included specifically: supporting the Circuit’s campaign goal of 500 miles by 2025, and a recommitment to the goal of building out the Circuit completely by 2040; working to incorporate the City’s High-Quality Bike Network and seek ways to fund it in the Transportation Infrastructure Program (TIP); and the Plan now includes an update to the “design[ing] all projects using system safety principles” to include automated traffic enforcement to enhance bikeability and walkability under Strategy #8 “Safety Accommodate Walking, Biking, Transit and Transportation Network Users of All Abilities” in the Process and Analysis Manual.

While this is a big win for the region, there’s need for more support to reach the Coalition’s goal of 500 completed miles of trails by 2025.  Right now, there are 353 completed miles of trail throughout the region, 81 miles that are in progress and 148 miles that are in the pipeline. The trails that are “In Progress” are currently being designed or built, while the trails “In Pipeline” are actively being worked on by DVRPC, local governments and non-profit organizations to move these trails forward by conducting studies, acquiring right-of-way, and laying the groundwork to obtain funding for future design and construction. Below is a table that breaks down the total miles and the number of projects in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

During this morning’s public comment on the agenda at the DVRPC Board and Executive Committee meeting, Sarah reviewed that during the past 9 years of trail development, the region has added 104 miles of Circuit Trails, increasing the number of completed miles from from 250 to 354. That’s roughly 11.5 miles per year and at this pace, the campaign goal of 500 miles will not be complete until 2034. While having DVRPC’s commitment to the Circuit Coalition’s short-term campaign goal and the long-range plan of 800+ miles is a step in the right direction, there’s urgency in securing the necessary funds to bring those connections to the network of trails.

After review of the updated draft of the Connections 2050 Plan, the Board was asked to adopt the plan in order to officially move the draft forward into the final stage. The City of Philadelphia abstained from voting to adopt the plan and we have sent questions out to learn why that it is. The manager of the long-range plan stated that DVRPC will move ahead on placing Philadelphia’s high-quality bicycle network as one project on the PA TIP by working with the city. Additionally, the Board stated that the long-range planning is a process and noted that the comments submitted have given the long-range planning staff a lot to think about in preparing for the next update.

Looking ahead, DVRPC staff will continue to provide recommendations and facilitate the discussion on these issues with their Board. There will be another update provided soon so be on the lookout for that. Again, we thank those of you who submitted your comments and recommendations to enhance and improve the bike and trail network for the region.

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