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Philadelphia launches major bike trail system

Greater Philadelphia is working to build a 750 mile bike trail circuit to connect suburbs with the city.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

You can now count Philadelphia among a growing list of cities that are making new bike infrastructure a priority.

About 250 miles of combined bike and pedestrian trails already make their way through the Greater Philadelphia region. But the city thinks it can do better for people getting around on two wheels or legs. Over the next 20 years the region wants to have as many as 750 miles of these trails. Last week, a new coalition, headed by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia along with the mayors of Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., announced their collective vision to see the trail network, called The Circuit, completed. Here's what supporters say The Circuit will do for the region:

When we connect the 750 miles of The Circuit, Greater Philadelphia will have a trail network unlike any other in the country -- connecting the urban, suburban and rural communities of the fifth largest metropolitan region in the US. The Circuit will make our region stronger by providing a place for healthy transportation and recreation, connecting our communities to greenspace, and making our neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work.

Connectivity is certainly the key to making this plan -- or any transportation plan for that matter --successful. Imagine if roads were built like bike lanes and trails. They wouldn't be nearly as useful. You can't build one here and there and expect them to work. Instead, they need to be part of a larger network of bike infrastructure to really thrive. That's the goal of this project.

The trails connect five counties in Philadelphia and four counties in New Jersey, with the longest trail stretching across 44 miles. Its price tag is around $250 million, or $12.5 million annually. But Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, puts the number into perspective, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports: "That may sound like a lot of money, but Doty said it equals about 1 percent of yearly highway and transit capital spending."

You can track the progress and even plan a bike trip in the region using this great map.

Photo: Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadephia

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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