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Editors Note:  This summary provides more depth to a story that was featured in the February 19th Cyclegram and a correction.  A number of roads in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties have been identified for possible improvements, however, no final decision or plan has been made to install bike lanes at this time.

For the past 2.5 years, Bicycle Coalition staff and volunteers have been collaborating with PENNDOT District 6-0 and county planning staff for Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware County to develop strategies to improve state roads in those four counties so that they better serve people on bicycles.

The effort has centered on finding suitable roads that could be improved by PennDOT when being next repaved.  Criteria used to identify candidate roads in each county included whether the road was identified in a county or municipal bike plan, whether they were identified as desirable by bicyclists, and how much room was available on the existing right-of-way.

After a series of reviews, four roads (one per county) were identified that each county was interested in studying further.  PennDOT assigned a consultant to further review and evaluate the engineering necessary to improve the following roads:

Bucks – US 202 from Doylestown to New Hope

Chester – Kennett Pike PA 52 in Kennett Township

Delaware – Route 320 from Swarthmore to Springfield Township

Montgomery – Morris Road from Valley Forge Rd to Montgomery County College

 A second round of reviews was conducted to identify four additional roads that could be improved to provide connections between Regional Rail Stations and/or Circuit Trails.  The following roads are in the process of being evaluated by PennDOT’s consultant:

Bucks – Bristol Borough – Jefferson St* to the Bristol SEPTA Station (Local Rd)

Montgomery – West Pointe Pike Morris Rd to E Hancock St* via the North Wales SEPTA Station (Partially a County Rd)

Chester – Business Rt 30 from the existing bike lanes in Coatesville to the Thorndale SEPTA Station

Delaware – Sugartown Rd from Strafford SEPTA Station and the Radnor Trail to Chester County Line

Bike lanes on US. 13 in Trainer Borough

Bike lanes on US. 13 in Trainer Borough

This process of identifying and evaluating roads is a first stage. Once PennDOT’s analysis is fully complete, the counties will determine whether or not the potential bike lanes are feasible based upon a cost/benefit analysis. At this point, no decision has been made by Bucks County to move forward with the bike lanes on Route 202.   Funding for installation and maintenance of improvements (bike lanes, sharrows, wider shoulders or signs) has not yet been identified and approval by local municipalities has not yet occurred.

Throughout the course of this effort, an issue has arisen that tends to make implementing bike lanes increasingly difficult: “The Bikeway Occupancy Permit “(BOP.)  Unfortunately, the BOP places maintenance responsibility on the municipality. Understandably, most municipalities are unwilling to accept this responsibility. (Although, there are several exceptions, Abington and Trainer townships have accepted BOPs.)  The Bicycle Coalition is working along with PA Walks and Bikes and PENNDOT to eliminate this policy obstacle.  The Counties with the help of Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia County Committees are starting the process of engaging with local municipal officials to ascertain their interest in improving these roads.

Given that this project is very much a “work in progress”, Bicycle Coalition staff will provide updates on this blog periodically on progress being made to eliminate the policy obstacles standing in the way of improving these roads so that they better serve bicycles.

Sarah Clark Stuart

Author

Sarah’s foray into trail and bicycle advocacy began in 2004 when she became involved in the “Free Schuylkill River Park” campaign to preserve public access to the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City, now known as Schuylkill Banks. Since joining the Bicycle Coalition in 2006, she has been a key player in the Bicycle Coalition’s key accomplishments: the $23 million TIGER trail-building grant; naming and building out the Circuit; lobbying successfully for legislation mandating the inclusion of bike parking in new construction projects; Philadelphia’s Complete Streets policy; and coordinating research and analysis of several reports on bicycling in Philadelphia.

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