Imagine being able to hop on a ten-speeder in Bristol and work your way around Bensalem, up to Newtown, through Doylestown, detouring into Warminster and eventually ending up in Quakertown, all while traveling on either shared roadways or bike trails.
This vision of an interconnected network of bike trails that weaves a web all around Bucks County gained the unanimous approval of the Bucks County Commissioners Wednesday morning.
"This would be a great asset for Bucks," said Rob Loughery, who was re-appointed chairman of the commissioners on Monday.
With the plan approved, it's now time to implement it throughout the county's 54 municipalities. That's where a Bucks County Task Force hopes to step in.
Formed in 2008, the 10 members of the Bucks County Bicycle Task Force formulated a comprehensive plan for a county-wide network of bike paths and facilities that would make bike travel around Bucks easier and more attractive.
According to the 200+ page master plan, the county came up with the blueprint, but it's up to individual townships or boroughs to put the pieces together at their own reasonable speed.
"To be able to achieve this long range vision," the plan says, "the foundation for the overall bicycle network will need to be developed by the local municipalities through defining and implementing their own municipal or multi-municipal bicycle master plan."
The members of the task force developed a toolkit, or guidelines and resources for the municipalities and their planning commissions to use while formulating development plans. Wider shoulders, more shared use signs and smoother paths are just a few of the recommendations that city planners are advised to keep in mind.
The trail plan created 12 major spines, or paths, that would serve as the backbone for the network, with smaller subdivisions, or spokes, sprinkled along the way. Of those 12, the task force identified three that they feel are high-priority projects:
- A Doylestown/New Hope Connector that will provide a link between the end of the new Route 202 Parkway and New Hope, creating a cross country bike route in Central Bucks.
- A Levittown/Woodbourne Connector that would link the Levittown and Woodbourne SEPTA stations, providing a critical bicycle route for Lower Bucks County.
- Quakertown Trail which would connect to Lehigh County through the Saucon Rail Trail.
The task force also plans to forge partnerships with organizations that can help educate the public and generate excitement and interest in the bike trail network.
The study cites several bike groups that already exist in and around the county, including the Central Bucks Bicycle Club and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. The economic, environmental and physical advantages of the activity has helped create more interest in recreational bicycling, the study says.
"If bicycling is to become widespread throughout Bucks County," the study says, "a move must be made to make the County a more bicycle friendly environment, including improved and additional facilities, additional bicycle amenities and increased education and safety opportunities."