During the long winter months, we've all noticed that our running route options shrink dramatically. Sidewalks are indifferently shoveled and become icy, streets are narrowed due to piles of snow, and are treacherous due to ice. And perhaps most vexing is the fact that most of the State College area's wonderful and growing network of bike paths is buried under thick sheets of ice. Not just snow, mind you, but ice. Why is that? It's because most of the area's bike paths are not maintained during the winter. However, people still use them when the snow comes to take winter walks, to walk their dogs, etc. Within a day or so of the first snow, the paths become packed down and soon become an icy mess. Once the ice is formed, it can take weeks of warm weather for it to disappear.
Of course, many people who commute to work via bicycle like to do so all year long. And runners use the paths to get off the roads. But during some winters, the paths are effectively closed for three months. A number of community groups are starting to make some noises about maintaining the paths. The Borough of State College plowed its paths this winter and it was a great blessing indeed. But there are miles of bike paths in the townships surrounding the Borough that are not maintained during the winter.
The condition of bike paths in the winter is just one of the issues that the Centre Region Bicycle Coalition was formed to address. The CRBC was instrumental in getting the Borough of State College to start plowing their bike paths, and is involved in numerous other bicycling advocacy issues. The Nittany Valley Running Club would like to support their efforts. Part of our plan is to keep each other informed of our activities and to "blurb" each other on our respective web sites.
Dave Hill of the CRBC wrote the following about the CRBC and its activities. I'm sure the NVRC and the CRBC can find many areas where we can work together.
The Centre Region Bicycle Coalition was founded in the spring of 2000 to help facilitate the vision of a more cycle-friendly Centre County. We are a collection of cyclists working for cyclists, with the goals of promoting cycling as a means of safe recreation and viable transportation in the area. We meet on a regular basis to discuss a wide variety of issues related to cycling and we maintain contact with a host of local municipalities and elected officials. We also organize and participate in regular events such as 'Bike to Work Week' which are intended to increase the visibility of cycling in the public's eye.
More recently, the CRBC has expanded to play the role of an 'umbrella organization' for other cycling-related organizations in the area. These organizations include the Nittany Velo Club, the Nittany Mountain Biking Association, the Penn State Cycling Club, the Bellefone Central Rail Trail Organization, and Trips for Kids. Contact information for these individual organizations, numerous links of interest to cyclists and pedestrians, and cue sheets, elevation profiles, and maps for favorite locals rides can all be found at our website, http://www.centrebike.org.
The long term goals of the CRBC include encouraging local municipalities to construct and maintain bicycle facilities such as on- and off-road bicycle paths, to access all available funds for alternative transportation initiatives, and to provide bike-friendly facilities such as secure and sheltered bike racks in convenient locations. In addition, the CRBC seeks to educate bikers, motorists, and the community at large about bicycle safety issues and to promote cooperation rather than antagonism on the roads.
So, what do cyclists and runners have to do with one another? Well, first of all, many cyclists are avid runners and vice versa. And both user groups tend to be fairly enthusiastic pedestrians. We all have an interest in making our roads safer and in promoting the construction or more multi-use recreational paths. One recent success story is that the State College Borough has taken the progressive position this year of committing to winter maintenance on their bicycle paths! By working together, runners, walkers, and cyclists can hopefully convince other municipalities that amenities such as bicycle paths, and the commitment to maintain them, contribute greatly to quality of life that all of us in Centre County highly value. For more information, please visit http://www.centrebike.org.
Selected Upcoming Events
March 13-14 - Penn State Cycling will be hosting over 200 collegiate cyclists for an outstanding weekend of racing. Races include an uphill time trial to Black Moshannon, a criterium in Bellefonte, and a circuit race in downtown State College!
May 17-21 - Bike to Work Week! Daily events including critical mass rides, film screenings, and a 'commuter challenge.'