The cyclists have spoken, and they want their own paths.
From mid-March till the beginning of June, the Centre Regional Planning Agency conducted a bicycle-centric survey throughout the region. Seeking responses from cyclists and non-cyclists alike, the survey sought to collect information on why people biked in the region, what discouraged them from biking and what improvements were needed on cycling facilities.
“We’re very happy with the response,” senior transportation planner Trish Meek said. “We received 674 completed surveys with a lot of valuable information.”
According to the survey, the largest swath of cyclists ranged from 35 to 59 years old and rode their bikes 2 to 5 miles a few times a week. State College and Ferguson Township represented the largest number of respondents, making up about 44 percent of the total number surveyed.
The most interesting detail gathered from the survey, Meek said, was that a large majority of the cyclists — 80 percent — preferred riding on a paved bike path separate from the street lanes.
“This is in line with what’s occurring nationally,” she said. “People are interested in riding, but worried about motor vehicles.”
About a quarter of those surveyed identified themselves as interested, but concerned, she said — only comfortable riding on paths away from other vehicles.
“If we want people to start riding more,” she said, “we need to create the facilities that that category can use.”
The more people ride, the safer it becomes, she said. When more cyclists and motorists have the opportunity to interact, they become more aware of each other and safety increases.
Information from the survey will be used to update recommendations to the regional bike plan, she said, and to influence municipal policies and the creation of facilities.
An increase in facilities can already be seen in some areas of the region. A new bike path stretching along Circleville Road from Circleville Park to end near Scotia Road in Patton Township is under construction with completion slated for fall.
The project was temporarily halted in July due to wet conditions, Patton Township engineer Brent Brubaker said. The contractor, Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., of State College, is expected to return and finish the project in the near future.
Phase two of the path project — a crossing at Scotia Road that would have extended to Grays Woods Boulevard — was canceled when right-of-way negotiations with residents could not be completed, he said.
Information about cycling in the Centre Region as well as the full survey results can be found at www.crcog.net/bikes.