WILKES-BARRE — PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said Monday the state wants to help planning partners in developing bicycle and pedestrian plans.
So with the start of “Bike to Work Week,” Richards’ boss, Gov. Tom Wolf, announced a series of improvements for bicyclists during an event featuring an executive bike ride around Harrisburg by several cabinet members and other officials.
Representatives from PennDOT, DEP, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Health and the Department of Labor & Industry joined the ride.
PennDOT also announced it was redoing its process for establishing bicycle lanes.
“Our overall goal is to integrate pedestrian and bicycle activities into our transportation network rather than have them be an afterthought,” Richards said in an emailed news release.
The improvements include:
• As part of a pilot effort, PennDOT will be constructing and maintaining several demonstration bike lane projects in District 6 in the five-county Philadelphia region that will help to clarify the costs of long-term maintenance for these lanes.
• PennDOT will expand the PennDOT Connects initiative to include work in projects to widen shoulders to improve bicycle accommodations where it is appropriate.
• PennDOT will be issuing a policy change removing the Bicycle Occupancy Permit from its design manual. Moving forward, local governments will need only provide a letter of request for the proposed bicycle lane that includes the necessary information for PennDOT to appropriately evaluate the request.
‘Perfect time to start’
State forest trails were the focus of the message from DCNR.
“Within our 121 state parks and more than 2.2 million acres of state forestland, we are blessed with 11,000 miles of trails, all offering unlimited biking terrain and opportunities,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Biking is one of the best activities to see what these very special outdoor places have to offer.”
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said biking is one of the activities that benefits everyone. He said not only are there health benefits to the rider, but there are fewer air emissions from fewer cars on the road.
Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy said biking to work is a great way to go green and save money on transportation.
“But perhaps its most important benefit is to your own health,” Murphy said. “Riding your bike to work is a great way to make sure you’re getting the exercise you need every day, and ‘Bike to Work Week’ is the perfect time to start.”
PennDOT encourages riders to wear reflective clothing to be more visible to drivers. For more information on bicycling in Pennsylvania, visit “Ride A Bike” under “Travel in PA” at www.penndot.gov.