Shameless plug for an interview I did for the local paper that hit the front page today
TriBob aka Bob Blackburn
Pa. designates bicycle routes across state
By Bajeerah Lowe, Staff Writer, West Chester Daily Local May 03, 2001
Bike riders can rejoice. Finding routes where they can share the roads with drivers has been made a bit more easy through the posting of designated bike routes throughout Pennsylvania.
Route L, which begins at the New York state border in Susquehanna County and travels 225 miles to the Delaware state border, includes 31 miles of marked roads in Chester County.
The routes, the brainchild of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, were chosen with several key criteria in mind.
The committee, which was appointed by Gov. Ridge, chose routes it felt were pleasant and scenic but at the same time would be reasonably direct.
"We didnít want to meander all over," said Dave Bachman, bicycle and pedestrian program manager. "We wanted the routes to travel from point A to point B."
Other considerations were road conditions and any upcoming construction.
"We looked for roads with shoulders, or low-volume roads when possible," Bachman said. "And we didnít want routes established along roads and bridges that would be under construction soon after the opening."
But these considerations had to be balanced out with the physical needs of the riders. "Bicyclists need to stop often to eat and drink. They canít go ten miles out of their way to find food and shelter," Bachman said. So, an effort was made to have the routes run close to food stores and campgrounds.
Getting the word out to the biking community has been accomplished through press releases and local bike clubs. Signs along the routes indicating directions for the riders have also helped to raise awareness of the routes, Bachman said. And Bob Blackburn, member of the Brandywine Bike Club, agreed.
"Just the other day I got an email from a couple who just purchased bikes," he said. "They are interested in finding safe places to ride. They were wondering what the Route L signs meant."
Blackburn, who leads bike treks, will actually be traveling along Route L this weekend.
"Creek Road, which is part of the route, can be dangerous. It gets windy and cars travel at high speeds," he said. But he said he hopes increased awareness and education among riders and drivers alike will make it safer for everyone on the roads.
"We try to teach new bicyclists to be safe on the road, to ride in single file," Blackburn said. "I have heard of drivers becoming irate at bicyclists. But sometimes riders bring it on themselves. Hopefully attitudes will change."
Blackburn said this is especially important since "statistically bike trails have more accidents than the roads."
He explained that rollerbladers and people walking, as well as other bike riders, can cause more problems for riders than cars on the roadways.
In addition to the established bike routes, Blackburn would like to see more roads with shoulders.
"I would like a 25-foot roadway. Many of the roads in this area arenít even wide enough for two cars," he said.
Mary Sheldon, vice president of the Brandywine Bike Club, agreed that shoulders help bicyclists ride more safely. "Safety is our number one priority when choosing a route," she said.
The elimination of rumble strips along the existing shoulders would also create an easier ride for bicyclists, said Blackburn.
"The rumble strips can vibrate the bike and the rider can actually get thrown from the bike," he explained. As an alternative, Blackburn said reflectors or other devices could be used to keep drivers alert.