Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse strapped on his helmet and mounted his bike this morning to kick off “Bike to Work Week” in the city.
The week designated to cycling begins Monday, but a pop-up bike lane is already being set up along N. 6th Street.
“We recognize more people will ride bikes if roadways are more accessible,” said Jim Buckheit of Bike Harrisburg at a press conference Friday morning. “This effectively demonstrates how we can improve options to allow people to use multiple modes of transportation getting to and from work.”
The popup lane is made of traffic cones and features “sharrows” painted on the street, which indicate that motorists share the road with bikers. The temporary pathway stretches from Linglestown Road to Reily Street to provide a corridor from Susquehanna Township to downtown Harrisburg.
“It’s very important we share the road and do it responsibly,” said Frank Lynch, president of Susquehanna Township’s board of commissioners.
The temporary lanes connect to the new dedicated bike lanes that Harrisburg added on N. 6th Street, just past Reily Street. Cyclists can ride through the state Capitol Complex and onto Chestnut Street if they are looking to go downtown.
The Capital Area Greenbelt can be accessed from these lanes, as well.
“We’ve essentially bisected the city and provided a safe street [for bicycling],” Papenfuse said during his “Community Conversations” livestream last week.
“Bike to Work Week” is nationally recognized by the nonprofit, the League of American Bicyclists.
Harrisburg, Susquehanna Township and Bike Harrisburg collaborated to provide the pop-up lanes for the week.
At Friday’s press conference, Papenfuse told the story of Donald Welsh Jr., a former employee of his at Midtown Scholar Bookstore. Welsh biked to and from work each day, until one day in 2017, when he was hit by a car and killed on State Street.
“When I went to the funeral and spoke to his parents, I promised them that we are going to do everything in our power to make that street safer,” he said.
The temporary bike lanes for “Bike to Work Week” and the new lanes being added on streets like N. 6th and Chestnut are part of “Vision Zero,” as well.
“I’m really excited; I ride almost every day,” said Harrisburg resident Lou Searles. “To get places safely is really important. I thought I’d never see this day.”
Buckheit said that bicycling has increased greatly in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. He believes it will remain popular for recreation and transportation.
“We hope this model will be expanded to the other municipalities that surround Harrisburg, to have this ongoing network that allows for people who wish to bicycle in and out of our capital city to do so in a comfortable and safe manner,” Buckheit said.
Harrisburg’s “Bike to Work Week” runs from Sept. 21 to 27. For more information on Harrisburg’s “Vision Zero” initiative, visit https://visionzerohbg.com/.
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