Bike Lanes in Lower Macungie by Michael Sutherland
Just recently, Lower Macungie Township announced that they were pursuing install bike lanes along Hamilton Blvd when it is repaved later in the year.
This a radical planning move from the township in order to help turn Hamilton Blvd into more of a street. This is because in its current state Hamilton Boulevard is a Stroad, which is a street/road hybrid that as my friend Ron Beitler explains perfectly as something that, “Does nothing good. If the purpose of a street is to capture value. And the purpose of a road is to move cars efficiently, then much like a futon is both a terrible sofa and terrible bed a STROAD is a bad street and also a bad road. Besides being a very dangerous environment they are enormously expensive to build and, ultimately, financially unproductive.”
So the question now is how do bike lanes contribute to smart growth in the Lehigh Valley?
1. They begin to provide the infrastructure that is needed for a multi-modal transportation system
With plans for the lanes to be near the Hamilton Crossings Shopping Center, this will provide another transportation option for people to get there.
What will be needed along with the lanes leading to the shopping center though is bike lanes in the shopping center along with bike parking which may seem hard to do, but as seen in this article, the Dutch have accomplished this in their suburbs too.
2. When people ride bikes, cars are taken off of the road which …
Lowers Carbon Emissions
When thinking of the influence on climate that carbon emissions from cars has, taking these baby steps of getting cars off the road through bike lanes is a practical way to help fight climate chance.
Creates a Safer Street
Something that is not noted often is how the number one killer of people ages 1 to 44 is motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, if we want to decrease the number of deaths that we see among our neighbors, the best thing we can do is create places where we don’t have to drive if we don’t want to.
Bike lanes gives people the opportunity to use a mode of transportation that is not as deadly.
And even more so, bike lanes helps to contribute to a road diet by repurposing the extra wide travel lane space for cars which thereby creates a street that is designed for traffic to move at slower speeds.
Increases Public Health
From healthier lungs to better mental health to lower stress, these are only a few examples of the health benefits of cycling as compiled by PeopleforBikes.
Challenges against the bike lanes
One word: PennDOT
Because Hamilton Boulevard is a state owned route, the township has to obtain approval from PennDOT in order install the bikes lanes.
Now one might ask why this is an issue?
Well, when looking at smart growth, PennDOT values moving car traffic quickly over creating safe streets for people. This can be seen practically a few years ago in Lower Macungie when the residents of the village of East Texas and the Lower Macungie township commissioners both supported lowering the speed limit on Willow Ln./East Texas Rd. to match it’s character as more of a town center. Now you would think that it would be passed unanimously with this kind of support, but PennDOT actually decided to ignore it altogether.
Therefore the outcome of this decision has long term effects on if bike lanes will be built on the Lehigh Valley’s state owned roads in the future. If it is approved by PennDOT, it will be a large victory for Lower Macungie township in trying to work towards smart growth.
Smart growth is not easy to accomplish, but Lower Macungie working towards bike lanes is the start of a radical transformation of a township that has had enough with urban sprawl.
So the question I want to leave you all with is if you are willing to add space on the streets of your community for bike, to help and work towards smart growth?
And even more so, what kind of Lehigh Valley do you want to live in?