PA Cycleway Network

individual independent project | 2020
created for use by PennDOT and local municipalities

Pennsylvania has a world-class set of rail-trail shared-use paths stretching across the state. Some have endeavored to become trail systems: most notably, the Great Allegheny Passage begins in Pittsburgh and leads to Washington DC along the C&O Canal towpath trail. These rail trails could become the catalyst for a statewide network of safe, comfortable, enjoyable, and useful off-road shared-use paths for use as recreation trails and active transportation corridors.

PA Cycleway Network at full build-out

The network would comprise three north-south and two east-west routes, similar in scale to the existing PA Bicycle Route network. In addition to the completion of shared-use paths along each route, the network would require online resources and physical signage. However, incomplete segments should not have temporary on-road route signage or should say clearly that short on-road segments are temporary, to maintain the network’s brand as a safe and comfortable off-road network. Necessary on-road segments should have high standards: on-road distances should be short on residential, dead-end roads with slow vehicles; or protected cycleways should be provided, especially in downtowns.

Existing rail trail segments: green
Rail trail segments in development: red/yellow
Inactive rail rights-of-way: purple
PA Bicycle Route network: grey

The network would begin expanding from various existing rail trails: from the Great Allegheny Passage toward Altoona, between the D&L and O&W/D&H trails, south from the Pine Creek Rail Trail. The first cross-state trail, connecting Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, would be complete with the connection of the Lower Trail in Blair County through Penns Valley and Bloomsburg to the Susquehanna Warrior Trail ending in Wilkes-Barre.

Cycleway segments prioritized by amount complete and value to the network

Eventually, the network will connect with trails in other states, and will host inter-state trails like the 9/11 National Memorial Trail, the Great American Rail Trail, and routes of the US Bicycle Route system. A complete, fully off-road network of shared-use paths will encourage future trails to route through Pennsylvania, bringing more funding, recognition, and visitors to Pennsylvania’s farms, forests, and cities.

Future inter-state extensions to the network

This project was begun as an investigation of potential future expansions of the Lower Trail as part of a trail town study of Williamsburg, PA.