Officials in Montgomery County on Wednesday unveiled the early drafts of a plan that would bring nearly 800 miles of bike paths to the area’s suburban landscape.
“We’re still a car-oriented culture and a car-oriented county, but things are changing,” said Matthew Edmond, the head of transportation planning for the county’s Planning Commission. “We’ve had enthusiastic support in Montgomery County for a bicycle network unlike ever before.”
The plan, “Bike Montco: Building a Bike-Friendly Montgomery County,” introduced to municipal officials and residents at Montgomery County Community College’s Blue Bell campus, updates a similar blueprint created two decades ago. In the interim, the surrounding counties followed suit, most notably Philadelphia and Delaware County, which adopted a 2005 plan that credited Montgomery County’s original efforts in 1998.
But Edmond said that initial plan was limited by the technology available at the time, ultimately failing to hit its mark. The county has only 19 miles of bike lanes, he said, out of approximately 4,500 miles of roadways.
Using mapping software, the Planning Commission identified roadways in the county that are prime candidates for adding cycling infrastructure, whether a protected bike lane or a mixed-use trail. These roads have relatively lower speed limits and less congestion than other thoroughfares, making them less intimidating to casual cyclists.
Under the plan, the new bike paths would connect to existing paths, creating a comprehensive network.
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