In recent years there has been significant interest in improving bike infrastructure in Philadelphia’s PA suburbs, where many roads that would be suitable for the addition of bike lanes are maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). The vast majority of bike infrastructure is installed when roadways are repaved, as this is the most efficient way for road crews to use their resources.
As those who have tried to get projects to move forward know, the common joke among planners is, “There are two times for the public to get involved in a project: too early, and too late.” Quite often, cycling advocates find that the roadway where they want a bike lane to be added is already too far along in the process to change the road’s design.
Now PA suburban cycling advocates have a new tool, which we’ve been advocating that PennDOT create for the public: The 5-Year Paving Plan. Obtained just this week, the plan gives the public a look into what PennDOT looks to pave far enough in the future to request the addition of bike lanes where practicable.
This is a great breakthrough following our successful decade-long advocacy to replace PennDOT’s Bicycle Occupancy Permit (BOP) with a more manageable bike lane permitting process. In the early days of the “post BOP era,” we worked with PennDOT and local municipalities to try to identify notable projects, one at a time.
We had some success, as in with the identification of Route 52 in Chester County, but having a plan that looks five years ahead on a region-wide scale will enable everyday folks to advocate for better facilities.
Know of a roadway in your area that you think is suitable for a bike lane in the future? Check to see if it’s on the plan. Focus on 2020 or later. We may be able to get PennDOT to squeeze in a 2019 project, but at this point it’s approaching the “too late” timeframe. In the coming weeks, we’ll have a process created where individuals can submit requests for bike lanes.
We’ll be taking a deep dive into this data ourselves. Stay tuned for updates!
Click below to see the paving plan for your county:
We’re very appreciative of the efforts that PennDOT has put into creating this plan and making it public.