By April Feagley
Daily News Staff Writer
An online, interactive map created by PennDOT will aid bicyclists planning routes using detailed information on both roadways and trailways.
Launched earlier this week in collaboration of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industry, the bike route map includes information such as traffic volume, speed limits and shoulder width.
“This map is a really great resource. It offers a nice overview of Bicycle PA statewide routes, including our local Bike Route G, along with the ability to zoom in on specific segments of each route to view more details,” said Valerie Burnett of Alexandria, a local cycling advocate. “The overlay feature enables a person to select only those features of interest. Being able to see where the shoulders of the road are four feet, speed limits and traffic volume are all very helpful tools when selecting a safe route to travel.”
Bike Route G connects Tioga County and the Corning, New York, area to the north with Bedford County and the Cumberland, Maryland, area to the south, traversing the northwestern portion of Huntingdon County. The 235-mile long course offers a connection to New York State Bike Route 17 as well as the C&O Canal Towpath and the Allegheny Passage.
Local roadways and trails become visible on the map by utilizing the “zoom” option.
“It is really encouraging to see that top officials from PennDOT, DCNR, the Department of Health and the Department of Labor & Industry teamed up to roll out the new interactive Pennsylvania Bike Routes map,” Burnett said. “My hope is that the encouragement for using active transportation at the state level will trickle down to the local level along with the funds and technical support necessary to make improvements.”
Burnett said that while the map does match with reality in taking the shoulder width, speed limits and traffic volumes of local roadways into consideration, it also highlights the need for more work.
“There is quite a bit of work to be done in our area to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians,” she said. “There are many people in our area who would welcome improvements to our trails and roadways for transportation and recreation.”
One “quirk” noted with the bike route map is the inclusion of what appears to be water trails along with the land trails.
“When using the Explore PA Trails overlay, it shows more ‘connectivity’ than actually exists,” said Burnett. “Quite a few of the ‘trails’ are actually water trails.”
She also suggested that cyclists may find it helpful if the routes were broken down in to more categories according to the speed limit.
“Anything under 20 mph is considered safer and less deadly if the driver of a vehicle accidently collides with a person,” Burnett said. “The speed limit feature combines all roads with 5-35 mph speed limits into the same category.”
Burnett expressed her appreciation to PennDOT for the creation of the map.
“In general, this appears to be a very valuable tool for people to use and for planning purposes,” she said.
The Bike Route Map can be viewed by visiting pennshare. maps.arcgis.com/apps/ webappviewer/index.html?id =d8e1c77ad2444268- bb56bd2d2a85ec46
For more information on bicycle safety, visit www.Just- DrivePA.com.