By Anya Saretzky, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
In the northeast part of the U.S., a bi-state project called the Circuit Trails is making waves in the walking and biking world. This network, when complete, will include 750 miles of trails in the Greater Philadelphia region covering nine counties in southeast Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Today, 300 miles are complete, with 50 currently in development and 400 yet to be built. Completion is slated for 2040. It’s an ambitious plan, no doubt, but it’s one that captures a vision the region has embraced and will see to completion.
Read more about the region's burgeoning network and the elements that make the Circuit Trails a strong and thriving project on the Rails-to-Trails blog: http://bit.ly/1P3kbcO
Photo courtesy: Mark Willard
By Steve Taylor
The arrival of cooler weather can give new perspectives on The Circuit Trails. For Linda McGrane, President of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia, getting out in the later months is about enjoying “the crisp, refreshing autumn air, as well as the colorful fall foliage. As long as the roads are clear and dry—that is, free of snow and ice—I continue to cycle into the winter months.”
Jed Kornbluh, national sales manager for cyclewear company Verge Sport, is also a year-round cyclist. His favorite Circuit segments to ride this time of year are both on the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail. “The first is from Stockton to Milford (and on to Easton if you cross the river into Pennsylvania), and the second is Lambertville to Kingston. These are two very different trails. The first section starts and finishes along leaf-swept gravel and cinder with the river on the western edge and rolling country highway Route 29 on the east. The other stretch starts in the bustling village of Lambertville, rolls along through historic Washington Crossing State Park and eventually goes from country to urban just after the Trenton Country Club section.”
Jed has this cool weather tip: “Remember to layer. This time of year can be tricky, with mornings in the 30s and afternoons in the 50s. It's best to pack a variety of clothing but the best options include vests, light jackets or convertible items (with removable sleeves). When I travel on the canal paths I generally ride a bike equipped with a large handlebar bag, which has enough space for tools, food and spare clothes.”
To this, Linda adds, “Remember also to cover your head, hands and feet adequately. Body heat escapes most quickly through the extremities. Another important point: Even when the temperature is cooler, you still need to stay hydrated.”
When the temperatures get wintry, John Boyle, research director for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, uses some special gear for his often windy bike commute across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, including handlebar mittens and a face-shielding balaclava. In the coldest weather, he breaks out his ski helmet, goggles and electric socks.
On the weekends, John enjoys getting out with his family for walks on The Circuit in less specialized attire. “The Pennypack and Perkiomen are great walking trails, but the D&L Trail may be the best. I like the Nockamixon Cliffs / Palisades section.”
Linda also enjoys the Pennypack Trail, especially the hillier part between Bustleton Avenue and Pine Road. She appreciates trails that allow her to ride parallel to busy and non-bike-friendly roads. “I like the Chester Valley Trail, since it allows me to cycle safely up and down the Route 202 Corridor. The Leiper-Smedley Trail near Swarthmore lets me ride near and over the Blue Route.
“Continuing to cycle outdoors, regardless of the cooler temperatures, provides a therapeutic dose of daylight and allows you to remain connected with other people and with the environment.”
Photo Credit: Photo 1 Jed Kornbluh (on D&R Canal Trail); Photo 2 Howard Hess (on Chester Valley Trail)
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) released the first year of data from its permanent bicycle and pedestrian counters that have been placed on 11 trails around Greater Philadelphia. Thanks to generous support from the William Penn Foundation, the permanent counters enable the Commission to collect continuous volume data around The Circuit trails. The five trails with the highest combined bicycle and pedestrian volumes for a one-year period are:
The data collected by the permanent bicycle and pedestrian counters shows significant use of these regional transportation assets. DVRPC maintains one of the nation’s most widespread bicycle and pedestrian counting programs. The counters combine a passive infrared sensor, which detects body heat, with an inductive loop, which detects the metallic signature of bicycle wheels, to provide a count of pedestrian and cyclists, including their travel direction. This technology paves the way for the introduction in Philadelphia of real-time “bicycle barometers” that simultaneously collect data and encourage bicycle use due to their prominent visibility and digital displays.
Four months after completion, the Chester Valley Board of Commissioners and the Friends of the Chester Valley Trail will be celebrating the Grand Opening of Phase II of the Chester Valley Trail on Monday, May 5th at 5 PM at 1055 Westlakes Drive in BerwynThe opneing will include a trail preview, remarks by the Chester County Commissioners and other guests, and an official ribbon cutting.
The trail now extends from the Valley Forge/King of Prussia area all the way to Exton. Future phases of the trail will continue to extend the trail eastwards towards Norristown and westwards towards Downington, providing a vital multi-use artery through the heart of Chester County.
If interested in attending, RSVP by Thursday, May 1st to the Chester County Commissioners Office ([email protected]; 610-344-6100)
See the attached flyer for more details.