Weer says there’s opposition to Unionville bike path

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E. Marlborough supervisor argues that a majority of residents don’t support Rt. 82 plan

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — While the township is in line to get some $1.4 million in state and federal funding to build a bike path — and has spent more than $200,000 of township money on the project — at least one Township Supervisor is arguing that a majority of township residents oppose the project.

The subject came up during Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, as the supervisors discussed hiring an acquisition consultant to assist in the process of getting easements along Route 82 near the middle and high school complex.

Supervisor Robert Weer reiterated his opposition to the project even while acknowledging that a majority of his colleagues disagreed with him.

“Out there, in talking to the community, there’s a lot of opposition to this project,” he said.

Township manager Jane Laslo said she disagreed with that assessment and in her experience, there’s support in the community for the one-mile bike path, expected to be the first link that would run eventually from Unionville to Kennett Square. She compared it with the sidewalk project in Unionville Village.

“It took us 12 years to complete the project,” she said. “But now it’s a wonderful, cohesive part of the community.”

Another point she made: the remaining funding of the project comes from federal state sources. If the township were to bail out, the money would be spent elsewhere and the $200,000 plus spent on plans by the township would be completely wasted.

“At this point, we’re only talking about using the dollars from the federal government,” Supervisors chair Cuyler Walker said. “The only question is whether we’re improving or degrading the township. For better or worse, the money is going to be spent somewhere else if we don’t use it.”

Still, Walker agreed that the board should hold off adopting a resolution on the project, wanting township solicitor Frone Crawford to review it and offer comments — particularly concerning any future financial commitments for the township. Crawford was on vacation and could not attend this month’s supervisors meeting.

In other news, the supervisors voted to replace the retiring Susan Beech on the township planning commission with Charles Streitweiser by a 3-2 vote. Walker and colleague Richard Hicks argued for Streitweiser, noting that he had completed Chester County’s Master Planner program.

While agreeing that all of the other candidates were qualified, both said the extra training made Streitweiser especially valuable to the planning commission. Walker said he hoped that the other applicants could be found another role to volunteer for the township and thanked them for expressing interest in the post.

The supervisors also approved hiring a consultant to review the land-use ordinance of the township as part of a process to standardize language between the township and neighboring West Marlborough and Newlin, all slated to share a regional comprehensive plan.

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20 Comments

  1. Peter Waterkotte says:

    As an avid cyclist who rides 30 to 100 miles on an outing, I can tell you that we avoid that stretch of 82 as it is the single most dangerous stretch that we know of.

    It’s a shame that kids have to actually trespass on private property to walk that part of 82 instead of riding their bikes or even walking that way. I say that it would be a welcomed part of our community and will offer new and experienced cyclists alike a way to navigate that stretch:)

    Every time I see someone on a bike or walking along that way I am horrified that something might happen.

    It could be a start to a larger bike trail down the road”!!! C’mon, build the darn thing and let’s all get out there!!!

  2. Vidya Rajan says:

    I found this paean to bicycling in a travelogue by Anu Garg, the founder of “A Word A Day”. He was writing about visiting Copenhagen, Denmark.

    “The first thing that you see as you step out of the Copenhagen central train station is a sea of bicycles parked around it. As you continue your walk, you notice a bicycle lane wide enough for bidirectional bicycle traffic. And you see people happily bicycling away, to work, schools, stores, and who knows where. In suits, in dresses, and other sartorial combinations, with stuff in baskets, with children on cargo bikes.

    That’s the thing with bicycles. You don’t need a parking lot the size of a football stadium to accommodate thousands of bicycles. You don’t need to worry about pollution from bicycle exhaust. After a bicycle ride, you don’t need to go to a gym to spend an hour on a stairmaster. You do need to fill a bicycle with air from time to time, but you don’t need to import it from a Middle Eastern country where a woman is worth half a man.”

  3. Carl Sirles says:

    I strongly support the bike path and applaud the efforts of all those that are bringing this project to fruition. What a wonderful message to send to our current youth and future generations to get outdoors and safely ride your bike, rollerblades, skateboards, tricycles, to walk and run, and push your strollers. Certainly the path will provide enhanced safety from motorists, as well as, a place to meet old and new acquaintances outdoors enjoying a stroll or ride. Therefore, I disagree with some in this forum that oppose spending federal dollars on the project. If the path prevents one person from being seriously injured, then its money well spent. As far as the townships money goes, it’s a sunk cost, since the money has been spent. I like to run and cycle and I do so frequently where the path will be built. I certainly don’t like to run on RT 82, but I do so anyway, as I feel the benefits outweigh the risk. It will be great to be separated from the motoring public in the future.

  4. Barbara says:

    I support the bike path along 82. Please do not let the short length deter development of this trail. Many bike paths throughout the state of PA are being developed in small peices of short duration, not the whole. (for ex. Chester Valley Trail & other trails in the Downingtown & W. Chester area) The peices are gradually being connected together as money permits. So a 1-mile bike path is a typical starting point. I am a cyclist, and I prefer to ride off-road whenever possible because of the dangerous traffic conditions on-road. Please allow this project to be completed. Thank you!

  5. Deebles says:

    I am a UHS student who exercises daily and I will use the bike trail often to run or walk to La Reserve.

  6. John Wilkins says:

    I think the bike path is an awesome idea. Both drivers and cyclists will benefit.

  7. Susan says:

    As a EMT resident and taxpayer I’d welcome the bike path. A full sidewalk/trail up and further away from the road would be better, but as seen in the article and from the comments, compromises on location/price/design are necessary to get things done.

    • renee says:

      The bike path is a great idea and one that I hope will also extend further down Unionville Road into Kennett. I live on Unionville Road and can only think of the positives that come with a bike path. The bike path will not only enhance the community but promote public health with biking, running or walking.
      They are just as much a part of our infrastructure as roads, plus they encourage people to exercise, drive less, reduce global warming and participate in our community. Without sidewalks, we cannot walk safely so we don’t walk, and we become dependent on and isolated in our cars.

  8. Sandy says:

    A bikepath would be welcome to drivers as well as bicyclers. Those of us who have to avoid bicycles that presently ride in the road would decrease the chance of accidents for all involved. By all means, start with a mile and then let’s see that path increase in the future, north and south.

  9. Helen Sax says:

    I agree a one mile bike path doesn’t solve the problem, but we need to start somewhere. Like it or not, bikers in our area are here to stay, and for good reason. We all live here because it is such a beautiful area. That’s exactly what draws bikers from all over, not to mention recreational bikers locally. It may only be one mile, but it’s currently the most dangerous mile to negotiate, both for bikers and for drivers who now are required by law to yeild at least 4 feet when passing a cyclist.

  10. steve says:

    I live along the proposed bike path….I’ll be one of the property owers who will have to ease their land…along with all the others on the west side of 82. My understanding is that there is a wide right-of-way on the east side of the road (the slightly elevated flat area)…an old trolley line that used to run to Kennett. Wouldn’t it be more expediant to use that land?? It could connect a sidewalk/bike lane in front of the schools, and continue along the fields the distric bought. I would like the proponetnts of this to stand in my driveway while traffic is driving by…we can mark out the width of the bike lane…and see if you feel safe?

    • Vidya Rajan says:

      We are all agreed that Rte 82 is fairly unpleasant to ride along as it stands. It stands to reason that making it safer is a good thing, surely? Maybe we should really be considering why we are willing to let cars whiz by on a street that kids walk out on before and after school. And also why we are willing to let current standards of traffic preclude its use by other, legitimate, methods of transport.

      Taxes are such a contentious issue. I personally consider my taxes my contribution to making our community a good place to live in. So I pay my taxes, and hope that my community’s roads and schools are places that I would happily send my kids to. That is a high priority for me.

  11. Hannah Christopher says:

    Well said Vidya and the majority of the project is paid for by grants. And yes it is only one mile and it has to start somewhere- eventually with lots of effort and support we will have bike pathways -sidewalks all the way into the borough.

    • Keith Knauss says:

      I see we’ll agree to disagree.
      .
      I’m always concerned when someone says the “majority of the project is paid for by grants” or when my representative says “we’re only talking about using the dollars from the federal government”. It’s as though we’re getting something for free. Not so. Let’s realize these dollars, $1.4M+, come from us – the taxpayers. Wouldn’t it be nice if our township would set an example for other municipalities by refusing to spend state and federal tax money on a marginally useful project. Maybe other would follow suit and our tax dollars would be directed to high priority projects.
      .
      And no, a short 1 mile bike path will not be welcomed by all cyclists. For safety reasons, a cyclist would much rather ride on a back road with minimal traffic (Mill Road & Wollaston) rather than riding on a high speed, heavily traveled road with a bike path (Rt 82).

  12. Vidya Rajan says:

    A relief bike path even for a short interval will be welcomed by all cyclists – that’ll be 1 mile where they don’t have to ride nervously. And maybe if the 1-mile path is built and well used, extending the bike path can be considered. I am sure many high school kids (and elementary kids in the higher grades) will ride to school given the opportunity.

    When we are facing stresses such as high gas prices at the pump, deterioration of air quality, obesity epidemic etc., $200K is a price that is probably quite reasonable to pay to encourage more walking/cycling. As township manager Jane Lazlo says in the article above regarding the sidewalk in Unionville, it may become a “wonderful, cohesive part of the community” as well.

  13. Keith Knauss says:

    Maybe someone should have asked the cyclists before spending $200K of tax money on a feasibility plan. The cyclists that you might encounter on the road – the ones with the black shorts and the colorful shirts – are out for a 10 mile to 100 mile ride. A one-mile bike path is a nice idea, but unless it’s part of a comprehensive bike trail system it will have little value to an avid cyclist.
    .
    As for those students who want to walk to school, I agree there should be a sidewalk system connecting our three schools on Rt 82. And I’m still looking for a parent who would allow their child to ride a bike on Rt 82 to elementary school during rush hour, with or without, a bike path.

  14. Parent and taxpayer says:

    I can’t believe we wouldn’t make a path in front of two schools who have so many students who walk and bike to school. Perhaps we should drive on the route while a biker\runner is on route 82… It’s difficult for both to avoid some type of altercation. If we are going to allow students from Patton and UHS to walk to school, we need to offer a safe path. Period.

  15. Hannah Christopher says:

    I fully Support the bike pathway and I know a great amount of residents in EMT who also support this project. It is a great start to making this area bike-pedestrian friendly.

  16. Vidya Rajan says:

    The bike path is an excellent idea. Users, particularly kids, will be a lot safer on a bike path than cycling side by side with traffic. It will be an improvement to the township, not a degradation. A safer way to get around should be considered an improvement.

    My kids and I used to cycle around here, but cars whiz by too fast and close for comfort. With this path, I would start cycling again. I, as a township resident, strongly support the idea of a bike path. Maybe it’s time we heard from opponents the reason for the opposition.

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