Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Open Letter to the Chester County Commissioners

Chester Valley Trail approaching Bacton Hill Road

These are the names and email addresses of the Chester County Commissioners
Kathi Cozzone -

If you live in Chester County, PA and are a cyclist, do yourself a favor and get political about the new Chester Valley Trail. This trail sat in limbo until Carol Aichele gave it a strong push. Thanks to Carol, this trail may at some point become a reality. We, here in Chester County, have been waiting since 1991 for this trail.

Today, I made my way from West Chester to the trailhead at Phoenixville Pike just south of the Battle of the Clouds Park. I biked along the trail to the Church Road bridge which is currently under construction. We left the trail and got back on it at Mill Road. This trail will be a SENSATIONAL bike riding experience for the residents of Chester County when finished. This trail is supposed to connect to the Schuylkill River Trail at some point in the future.

If I was a Commissioner, I would be doing everything humanly possible to see that this trail completes. It is planned to go from Downingtown, PA to the Schuylkill River Trail in three phases. Phase 1 is now being built. This phases goes from Valley Creek Blvd to Rt 29. Phase 2 will go from Rt 29 to ultimately the Schuylkill River Trail. Phase 1 and Phase 2 are scheduled to be complete in 2012. Phase 3 goes from Valley Creek Blvd to Downingtown and currently there are NO plans for this section.

This trail is and will be the single greatest accomplishment that Chester County has ever done for cyclists and trail users. Why the commissioners are not pushing for the completion is a mystery to me? Please, take some time and email the commissioners and ask them to complete the trail.

Once the sections of this trail in Phase 1 and Phase 2 are completed, people will use this trail. Cyclists will make their way to this trail. Currently getting to this trail is difficult as the roads in the area of this trail are poorly suited for cyclists, and joggers and families making their way to a trailhead.

The route I took to reach the Chester Valley Trail from the boro of West Chester, PA is linked here. It does require biking along Rt 30 in Frazer and biking down Planebrook Road. Neither road is great but this route is very doable for West Chester residents. The trail will attract a crowd. Motorists are going to be surprised by the amount of cyclists on local roads making their way to the trail. Townships should be looking at ways to make these roads safer. Most likely nothing will happen until a cyclist is hit and killed on his way to the trail for folks to take notice.

These three Chester County Commissioners have an opportunity to leave their mark on this county. This trail will set Chester County ahead of its neighbors and finally make cycling in busy suburban areas a reality. Folks can commute to work on this trail as it passes many large corporate parks. The effect of this trail on the county is huge. The value it adds to the area is huge. The recreational possibilities are huge. Please Chester County Commissioners, FINISH THE TRAIL.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

are we this stupid?

Today I open up my local paper, the Daily Local News, and on page two I read about my local school district changing the bus schedules to save money. Middle school children in one of the middle schools will now go from 7:30 am to 2 pm. The start time being changed to earlier by thirty minutes. With this change middle school kids and high school kids will be on the same buses, hence saving money. Four elementary schools will also be changed to any earlier time.

Then on page 7 in the same paper, I see an article on how even starting school 1/2 hour later can make huge performance changes in teenagers. "Giving students 30 extra minutes to start their school day lead to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness and even healthier breakfasts."

So does anyone on my West Chester Area School board even think about the health of the students and how to make the school day more productive for them? Does not seem so. Why does the school day have to start so early?

If school started later, kids might be able to walk or bike to school. Kids would have time for breakfast. Kids will be rested and more fit. With more sleep, more exericse and better food, a child's school day could be a whole new experience.

But why do this? Let's start them earlier and earlier to save money and make life easier for adults. And then let's all complain about students' poor performance and behavior in school.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

if you build it they will come

one of the roads to the Chester Valley Trail, rt 30, rider must turn left if coming from the west

Chester County is currently building the Chester Valley Trail. This Trail will link Exton, PA with Norristown and the Schuylkill River Trail. This trail was envisioned in 1990 when traffic was not as bad as it is now on the many roads of Chester County. The CVT crosses many roads on its way to Norristown.

Today I traveled by car to see some of the road crossings. This trail crosses heavily used back roads in and around Frazer and north towards King of Prussia. Most trails are built away from roads and provide safe places for families and novices to bike and run. The CVT does not. This trail traverses through busy areas and has to cross multiple roads

The Chester Valley trail will attract many riders. Because once built, folks will flock to it. Of the three Chester County Commissioners, Carol Aichele, has been dominant in getting this trail completed. It sat in limbo for over 15 years. In her zest to complete this project I am not sure all the dangerous road crossings have been given enough thought.

This trail has the potential to move Chester County into the greenest county around. This trail goes through very high density areas and will ultimately connect the western suburbs with Philadelphia.

But for now, the trail has some obvious shortcomings which I hope can be corrected over time:

1. This trail will currently start on N Ship Road. There is no parking there. The only way to get to it is to bike along Rt 30, a busy highway and then bike along Ship Road. Ship Road is a poor, poor road for cyclists. No shoulders and it is a busy cut through road for commuters.

2. The trail crosses at least four busy roads; Ship Road, Phoenixville Pike, Mill Road and Rt 410.
The trail will eventually have to cross rt 29 and make its way through a large proposed shopping center. Some communites are placing signage but a better alternative would be traffic lights on Rt 401 and Rt 29.

3. There is no access to this trail on Church Road which has a wonderful overpass for the trail but alas there is no way to get on it. Church Road serves a huge population that would love access to the trail. Their only alternative is to get on Swedesford Road and make their way to another access point. Again, Swedesford Road is a poor road for cyclists. No shoulders and lots of curves and hills.

4. This trail is being built from King of Prussia back to Exton hence making access in the Exton area near impossible if cyclists are fearful of Rt 30 and Ship Road. The access from Exton is Phase 3 and I understand this phase is years away.

5. Access from heavily populated Downingtown, West Chester and Coatesville is near impossible unless you are able to bike on 4 lane highways and narrow back roads.

6. There are virtually no safe roads for future commuters to make their way to this trail and on to their places of employment. This should be the final goal of this trail. Making it a viable way to commute to work for suburban folks. We see lots of bike lanes and access in inner cities but almost nothing exists for the suburbs.

The potential for this trail to be a one of kind commuting route for suburban folks is unbelievable. Not only can folks get to King of Prussia but can go on to Conshocken, Norristown and Philadelphia. Bike commuting has been nothing short of hazardous for suburbanites; four lane highways and no safe routes.The trail can be something Pennsylvania and Chester County can showcase as a way to make living in the suburbs livable in terms of being able to bike commute.

So I am asking the Chester County Commissioners to keep going with this trail. Just building the trail is not enough. Think safe routes to the trail. Bike lanes and bike friendly shoulders would be a good first step. Parking at trail heads for weekdays. Right now the trail is depending on weekend parking in business parks. Not a good option for weekday commuters.

Plowing this trail during the winter is another way to keep folks commuting. Keeping the trail clear of downed trees and litter would also go a long way to making commuting doable. And getting the trail finished all the way to Downingtown helps keep this trail available as a commuting route for folks in Coatesville trying to get to work in Exton.

new bike from Spectrum and Tom Kellogg

Titanium Custom Fit bike from Spectrum, with the Ultegra Triple Crank, it does not get any sweeter than this!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

what an idiot

If you know this guy, let him know he is one first class idiot!! Not only does he have shaved legs and NO HELMET, he was talking on his cell phone. One big wet noodle directed at this guy. I have seen him before and he bikes with a guy who also wears no helmet and is always dressed in blue. Make sure to hassle them if you see them on the road.