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As a follow up to our previous article, GVF Kicks off Bike Month with First Wellness Wednesday Webinar, we are providing highlights from our second speaker Derek Dureka, Director of Parks and Recreations, Upper Dublin Township.
May is National Bike Month. Since we cannot all come together to celebrate this year, GVF has planned a virtual month-long celebration to share biking resources and stories. Our first Wellness Wednesday webinar saw close to 40 attendees. DVRPC and Upper Dublin Township spoke about their biking initiatives. Below are highlights from Derek’s talk.
Derek spoke on the efforts Upper Dublin Township is taking to create a bike and pedestrian friendly community and its future. As the township prepares for a post COVID-19 world it has already started to work on increasing bike and pedestrian facilities for its residents. The township is trying to create cycling as a true transportation alternative due to the need for social distancing.
“One goal is to foster the development of cycling as a lifelong activity in a safe environment to improve health and create stewards of future projects,” Derek stated.
Derek highlighted the Cross-County Trail project. This 2.5-mile paved multi-use trail will run parallel to Commerce, Delaware, and Virginia Drives, and connect the Fort Washington Office Park from Susquehanna Road to the Fort Washington SEPTA train station at Pennsylvania Ave. The trail will be designated as the regional Cross County Trail. Eventually it will connect with other sections of the regional trail network to the west where significant sections have either been constructed or are now funded for construction.
When planning these types of projects, Derek said that the approach the township takes is community engagement early and often to build knowledge and support, include trails on all plans for grant purposes, and to look regionally for planning, funding and partnerships. Derek stated that recreational trails are good, but trails with a destination are great.
Funding for the project came from multiple sources like DVRPC Regional Trails Program. Construction of the Cross-County trail will include a road diet and will connect Upper Dublin Township from East to West.
Since the start of COVID-19, the Upper Dublin has seen dramatic trail use. The community has gained greater knowledge of the trail system available to them.
Derek commented that there is still a need for infrastructure to support the most basic cyclist within the township. Proper road striping, signage, gateway finding. The community needs to treat the trail network as if it were a roadway with regular maintenance and enhancements so that residents have safe passageways. He believes there will be more action and advocacy towards this way of thinking post COVID-19.
When asked how the township promotes these amenities to residents, Derek stated the following:
Community engagement through a social media presence
Paid social media advertisements to target residents
Trail guides placed in township printed materials
Word of mouth. The increase in trail users has created more advocates who are sharing information on the trails
Events/challenges to engage people and continue to get them to use the trails
Elf in the park during December people win prizes for finding the elf and submitting a photo
Poker park challenge – 52 playing cards are hidden around the trail system, over the course of one-week people try to create the best hand
GVF looks forward to continuing to work with Upper Dublin Township in helping to restore, re-imagine and rebuild our communities and the transportation network.