Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Biking plan aims to make it easier, more fun to get around

A 280-page Master Plan will be unveiled Thursday night at an Open House at Bucks County Commnity College. It recommends a doubling of the 240 miles of trails, creating a network connecting towns, parks, train stations and other destinations.

Biking plan aims to make it easier, more fun to get around

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The biking plan would create a network of trails linking parks such as Core Creek Park in Middletown Township to towns and other attractions. (Anthony Sinagoga Photography)
Bucks bike paths Video: Bucks bike paths

Steve Nelson envisions a way for Bucks County to provide residents with a better place to live, to help small businesses thrive, and to attract workers and tourists.

He can sum it up in two words: bike paths.

Nelson, a professional planner and chairman of the county’s Bicycle Task Force, recommends doubling Bucks' 240 miles of paths, creating a network connecting towns, parks, train stations and other destinations.

“The benefits are recreation, health – there’s a study that one in seven children is obese – and economic, a boost to tourism,” Nelson said recently.  

“Bucks County has villages, scenic routes, creeks, the Delaware River, downtowns, and parks that are close to lots of people,” he said. A connected bike path “can really add to Bucks County as an attraction.”

Nelson and the task force have developed a master plan that they will present at an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bucks County Community College’s Newtown campus “to make sure we got it right.”

The plan “tries to address all ages and skill levels, from guys in Spandex to families with little kids,” he said.

The 280-page report calls for the creation of north-south and east-west “spines,” or main paths, with  networks of “bike sheds” – like watersheds – sprouting off of them. All routes should connect towns, parks, train stations or other destinations, according to the report.

The plan could take 15 to 20 years to implement, and the cost of acquiring land and building  238 miles of on- and off-road trails has not been determined, Nelson said.

For a realistic start, the plan recommends three spines:

  • Doylestown-New Hope. An on-road route, about 10.5 miles, along Buckingham Pike and York and Lower York roads.
  • Woodbourne-Levittown. On- and off-road route, about 5.3 miles, along Woodbourne and Oxford Valley roads and Levittown Parkway, connecting SEPTA Regional Rail stations.
  • Quakertown-Lehigh County line.  On- and off-road route, about 5.1 miles, eventually connecting to the Saucon Valley Trail.

Other spines include State Bicycle Route E, which connects Morrisville Borough to Philadelphia, and can use improvements; Cornwells Heights-Newtown Borough; Route 413 from Newtown to Buckingham; Quakertown-Washington Crossing; and Upper Bucks to Northampton County.

The plan provides a blueprint for the county and its 54 municipalities to develop the network, Nelson said.

Routes on roads and shoulders make safety a big issue, he said. The plan recommends the education of bicyclists and drivers about routes and the rules of the road.

For example, drivers must give cyclists at least 4 feet of safe passing distance, and they may cross double-yellow lines to do so, Nelson said.

After the public meeting, the 10-member task force will present the plan to the county Planning Commission and the county commissioners. Nelson said he hopes it will be adopted by early next year.

Then they can take the next step, estimating the cost, he said.  

To read the Master Plan and see maps of proposed paths, go to www.BikeBucksCounty.com.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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