In a previous post, we highlighted the progress made towards PennDOT’s first SUBURBAN (yes, you read that correctly) bike lane projects. On Friday last week, we were pleased as punch to be on hand, along with 6abc, for the agency’s official unveiling of the completed facilities. Below is PennDOT’s press release on the event (edited for length), followed by our own commentary.
In its ongoing effort to enhance the bicycle experience across the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has completed new bicycle lanes on three suburban state highways in the Philadelphia region, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said today.
The pilot program will help determine long-term maintenance cost data for such bicycle facilities which, along with the Wolf Administration’s PennDOT Connects initiative to reach out to communities and partners earlier in project planning, will help evaluate bicycle accommodations where planning efforts indicate such needs.
“This initiative reflects our new PennDOT Connects program, which we’re using to reach out more to our communities and partners and considering many viewpoints right from the start of planning for transportation projects,” Richards said, joining other officials at an event at the Thorndale commuter rail station. “While maintaining the highway and bridge networks is a crucial part of our mission, it is not the only part. We want to consider and enhance the other modes, be it commuter rail, served by this station here, other forms of public transit and those who chose to bicycle or walk.”
The locations are:
- In Chester County, two miles along Business. U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway) between Diamond Street at the City of Coatesville/Caln Township line and Hazelwood Road (at SEPTA’s Thorndale Train Station) in Caln Township. The new bicycle lanes tie into the existing bicycle lanes that have been in place on Business U.S. 30 starting at the Diamond Street intersection and proceeding west to 2nd Avenue in Coatesville.
- In Delaware County, about 2.2 miles along Route 320 (Sproul Road/Chester Road) between Route 420 (Woodland Avenue) in Springfield Township and College Avenue in Swarthmore Borough, Delaware County.
- In Montgomery County, about a third of a mile along Route 663 (King Street) between Route 100 and Manatawny Street in Pottstown. Route 663 was resurfaced by PennDOT this past summer and bicycle lanes were implemented as part of a road diet.
PennDOT replaced traffic lines and painted new bicycle lanes and legends on Business U.S. 30 and Route 320 under a department paving contract this fall. The operation began in October and the bicycle-lane work on both roads was recently completed. The cost estimate for installing bicycle lanes on the three state highways is $127,000.
These three state roads were chosen for the pilot program by the Southeast Pennsylvania Suburban Bike Lanes Working Group, which consists of the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, PennDOT, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the suburban county planning commissions.
As part of a series of improvements for bicyclists, PennDOT earlier this year issued a policy change removing the Bicycle Occupancy Permit from its design manual. Moving forward, local governments need only provide a letter of request for the proposed bicycle lane that includes the necessary information for PennDOT to appropriately evaluate the request. After a review, a letter of approval will be issued by the department. This replaces the previous requirement for a formal agreement between PennDOT and the municipality.
For more information on projects occurring or being bid this year, those made possible by or accelerated by the state transportation funding plan (Act 89), or those on the department’s Four and Twelve Year Plans, visit www.projects.penndot.gov.
This is the culmination of over 12 years of advocacy (yes, you read that right too) on the part of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia:
- From 2005 to 2011, we made the case for modifying the Bicycle Occupancy Permit, also known as “BOP,” because it emerged as an obstacle to adding new bike lanes in the suburbs by making it so onerous that few municipalities would agree to its conditions.
- From 2011 on, the we worked with PennDOT District 6, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the counties and TMAs, such as TMACC and Greater Valley Forge TMA, to organize and collaborate in the aforementioned Suburban Bike Lanes Working Group, which worked to prioritize state roads for the inclusion of bike lanes.
This project is the first time that bike lanes proposed by the working group have been installed, and we hope that it will pave the way for many new bicycle projects throughout the PA suburbs and a new era of PennDOT policy with respect to bicycle facilities on state roads.
We’d like to thank PennDOT District 6’s Lou Belmont for efficient execution of this project, from the senior engineers to the paving crew, and of course the visionary leadership of Secretary Richards, for her understanding that PennDOT works for all road users, no matter what mode of travel they choose.
As we’ve started seeing throughout our region, the construction of these facilities highlights that there has been a paradigm shift in Pennsylvania — that the suburbs are no longer be seen as solely accommodating people in cars, that the suburbs can transform themselves into communities that provide anyone with access to safe, healthy and affordable transportation options.
If you’re excited about this development (and if you made it this far down, you probably are) and want to make this the start of the Suburban Bike Wave, join us.