At the quarterly Pedalcycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting on March 17, PennDOT announced to its participants that it would initiate a pilot program to advance bicycle facilities on state roads in two metro regions: the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission PA counties and the Harrisburg area.
This announcement is a major breakthrough and represents a first step toward PennDOT removing the onerous Bicycle Occupancy Permit as an obstacle to the placement of bicycle lanes or other facilities on state roads.
The Pennsylvania Code “requires that local authorities be responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all pavement markings for bicycles, such as the bicycle lane symbol,” according to Pennsylvania Walks and Bikes. “This section is enforced through the Bicycle Occupancy Permit (BOP), which the municipality must adopt by resolution. If the municipality chooses to have wide, paved shoulders instead of bike lanes, none of these requirements apply.” The BOP is not a requirement in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but has been a major hinderance in getting more and better bike lanes outside those major cities.
This problem was a severe impediment to placing any bicycle infrastructure on state roads in suburban counties around Philadelphia.
We have been advocating for a solution to this obstacle since 2005. Earlier in March, we wrote about how several Pennsylvania bicycling advocacy groups were coming together to get rid of the Bicycle Occupancy Permit, after the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia organized a sign-on letter to Secretary Richards.
PennDOT will work with District 6 (DVRPC) and District 8 (Harrisburg Area) to:
- Identify “priority bicycle routes.”
- Identify which routes should receive bicycle lanes.
- Estimate the level of funding needed to construct and maintain bike lanes on these routes.
- PennDOT will fund the maintenance of some of these bike lanes on these routes.
Additionally, PennDOT will be undertaking a statewide new bike/ped master plan as part of a $3 million dollar consulting contract devoted to bicycle pedestrian policies that is currently being advertised. The RFP is published below, but only qualified business partners of PennDOT may submit proposals through the ECMS process. The deadline is March 24th.
Roy Gothie, PennDOT’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, is in the process of updating the BicyclePA routes with DCNR trails in a more interactive format.
It will be ready for this year’s Bike to Work Day.