Region gets federal funds to provide alternatives to vehicle use

Posted: June 29, 2014

Southeastern Pennsylvania's recreational trail network - already the envy of many other metro areas - is getting a $7.5 million infusion through a federal program aimed at providing alternatives to vehicle-based transportation.

The money will fund 11 projects in all five counties, closing a gap in a Central Bucks trail, building a multiuse trail in Lansdale, putting sidewalks in Swarthmore, and adding $1.25 million to the city's bike share program, launching next spring.

Completion may be several years off, but ultimately, "what this will do is help get people out of their cars and onto sidewalks and multiuse trails," said Joseph Banks, a project implementation coordinator at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

The commission's board made the awards, announced Friday. Banks said it was the first time the federal funds had come directly to the region. They previously had gone to the state, which made final decisions.

The money comes from the Transportation Alternatives Program, aimed at "nontraditional" community projects.

Overall, the awards "speak to the popularity of better biking and walking facilities across the region," said Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

The portion going to Bike Share Philadelphia bolsters $4 million so far from the city and a foundation, said Andrew Stober, chief of staff in the mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities.

Stober said it would bring "a new, affordable form of transportation to the people who need it the most."

Locations will be not just in central Philadelphia but in neighborhoods throughout the city. It will be the first bike share program in the nation, Stober said, that people can join without a credit card, whose use can be a barrier for the young and the poor.

An additional $250,000 will go toward signage and improvements to 13th and 15th Streets, aimed at making them better for cyclists than Broad Street.

Neither street has room for a designated bike lane. But by working with the Community Design Collaborative, a Philadelphia center that provides pro bono design services to nonprofits, officials came up with a plan that includes painting representations of bicycles with chevrons above them in car lanes, to indicate to drivers and cyclists that bicycles belong there.

Here is the complete list of projects:

Neshaminy Greenway Trail, $800,000, for improved access to SEPTA stations, Unami Middle School, and Delaware Valley College along a route from Chalfont to Doylestown Township.

Solebury Route 202 Gateway Trail, $980,859, including multiuse trails and pedestrian crossings.

Kennett and New Garden Townships sidewalk project, $850,000, for better pedestrian access to schools, social services, businesses, and health and recreation centers.

Village of Eagle trail connections, $560,000, for multiuse trails along Route 100.

Swarthmore pedestrian and bicycle accessibility project, $420,000, for sidewalks and crosswalk safety enhancements.

Ridley Park Borough, Hillside Road pedestrian safety improvements, $530,000, includes crosswalks, pedestrian paths, and a new footbridge over Little Crum Creek.

Walkable Wallingford, $225,000, for new sidewalks and curbing along Wallingford Avenue.

Walk and Bike Pottstown, $1 million, to add bike lanes on borough streets.

Liberty Trail connection in Lansdale, $635,000, multiuse trail connecting residential developments.

Bike Share Philadelphia, $1.25 million.

South Philadelphia Neighborhood Bikeway, $250,000, new lane painting, signage and crosswalks along 13th and 15th Streets.

215-854-5147 @sbauers

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