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Upper Southampton Bikeways Project

Upper Southampton Bikeways Project

Drafted By the Upper Southampton Environmental Advisory Council

Marilyn Betz, Lauren Jordan, Carl Loscalzo, Hans Peters, Adam Pluchino

REVISED HP 2013-05-02 

Executive Summary
Our goal is to establish bicycle ways throughout Upper Southampton to support safe, functional, and effective routes for local travel.  An analysis of all streets, roads, and highways in Upper Southampton Township for proposed bikeway dynamics is necessary to formulate safe, functional, and effective routes.  The routes may be identified by pavement markings, however, appropriate signage may be more feasible from a legal perspective.  The public will be invited to participate in the project and share pertinent information regarding bicycle safety and their own use. Pennsylvania State laws must be complied with.  A brochure that also includes a map of viable bicycle routes may be published as an e-newsletter. The map/brochure/newsletter will be the core of a campaign to promote bicycle use, as well as  bicycle awareness and safety, including promotion of racks at public buildings and places of business, and getting along with motor vehicles and pedestrians.

Upper Southampton has a wide variety of roads, including a major highway through its center, Street Road, PA132.  Several secondary and tertiary through-routes and numerous residential streets also offer a variety of travel accommodations.  Pennsylvania State law gives bicycles an equal share of the roadway, however, most travel routes are designed disproportionately in favor of motorized vehicles.

"Share the Road" signage and bicycle lanes have been effectively and successfully installed in Philadelphia and New York where heavy volumes of vehicle and pedestrian traffic occur, and locally in the neighboring township of Upper Dublin, Montgomery County.  The recently adopted Upper Southampton Comprehensive Plan includes bicycle use, and a Bucks County Bicycle Master Plan has recently been unveiled, outlining a collaborative effort endorsed by the Bucks County Commissioners, in which Upper Southampton could be proud to take a leading role.

The benefit of having a more bicycle friendly community is huge.  The age range of cyclists is greater than of drivers, and children have traditionally been heavy bicycle users.  Child safety is paramount in Upper Southampton, as in every community, and greater bicycle awareness would further this value.  Local traffic would be less congested if short-distance travelers were to ride bicycles instead of driving cars, and bicycling is a healthy and fitness-promoting way to exercise while getting around.  Air and noise pollution would decline with this shift in transport mode and make Upper Southampton an even nicer place to live.

A study will be conducted of all public roads and streets in the township to determine the feasibility of bicycle use.  The main foci of this study will include traffic volume and road space location, availability and malleability of   routes to desired locations.  Based on this information, a system of optimal bicycle routes will be developed using criteria of destinations and population distribution.  It is estimated that this initial system will total approximately 25 miles.

Standard pavement bicycle symbols are hoped for, however, signage clearly marking the routes, installed by the township's Public Works Department for both daytime and nighttime use, may present less of a legal challenge.  Separate bike lanes make the road safer, but ironically, may increase the township's liability, and must pass a more rigorous permitting process. Where feasibility and efficacy indicates, "share the road"  signage will be installed. On a priority basis, amendments such as shoulder widening may also be proposed and constructed to support bicycle traffic.

Concerns have been expressed that increased bicycle traffic will slow vehicular traffic, increasing pollution.  There is absolutely no intention of taking any territory that now belongs to motor vehicles.  We believe there is enough room for all three modes of transportation, and see no need to slow down cars for the sake of bicycles.

A map of the township, showing all bicycle friendly streets and marked routes, will be developed and distributed by mail and be available online and in public buildings.  The map can be published as a brochure that includes bicycle safety information, rules of the road, and possibly other promotional material including paid advertising by bicycle-friendly businesses. The map will undergo frequent revisions as new routes are discovered and developed. Regular publication of updates could function as a newsletter, including developments, maintaining awareness and interest and engaging the community.

A campaign promoting bicycle use can also include businesses and other public facilities installing bike racks and merchants offering bicycles and accessories such as bike-friendly bags and apparel at discount.  This will be economically and physically stimulating for the residents of Upper Southampton Township.

For the safest routes, bike paths separate from roadways can also be distinguished, promoted and implemented, including converting the abandoned rail line that transects the township.  Although such developments may be energy intensive, sufficient interest and commitment may win the day. 

Thank you kindly for your consideration.

The Upper Southampton Environmental Advisory Council
1-18-2013 / 1-21-2013 / 5-2-2013