Talking Trails at the 2024 Philly Bike Expo

Cyclists, would-be cyclists, and bike enthusiasts turned out March 16 and 17 for the 2024 Philly Bike Expo, and once again PEC was there to celebrate and educate attendees on the many ways to experience the outdoors on two wheels — not only on the hometown Circuit Trails network, but across the Commonwealth.

The Expo was also an opportunity to connect with other cycling advocates, including organizations working to provide kids and youth with experiences that lead to lifelong healthy habits and an ethic of environmental stewardship. Through the Circuit Trails Community Grant Program, PEC supports nonprofits that offer programming to people of all ages on or near trails — including one of the program’s newest grantees, “Sam’s Place” at AIM Academy, which serves students with language-based learning differences at its campus directly adjacent to the Schuylkill River Trail. We spoke with representatives Mindy Maslin and Sidney Ozer about an upcoming event in honor of their son, Sam Ozer, a former AIM Academy student who was killed by an automobile while riding his bike in 2020. Planned for May 18, Send It for Sam, will be a celebration of Sam’s life featuring food trucks, live music, cycling obstacle courses, and more. Donations collected at the event will directly support Sam’s Place and the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition’s Families for Safe Streets initiative.

Trail Initiatives and Group Rides

PEC staff spent the weekend handing out hundreds of maps and brochures detailing outdoor recreation opportunities statewide, and answering questions about current and future trail projects. This year, we celebrated more than 400 miles of completed multi-use trails on the Circuit Trails network in southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey. PEC continues working to expand the network, most recently through an exploratory study for a southern connection to the Liberty Bell Trail. This segment is the #1 overall priority trail segment out of all 253 unbuilt Circuit Trails segments analyzed in our Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails network. The new exploratory study recommends a primarily off-road, multi-use trail with sections of on-road bicycle facility connectors and safety improvements. PEC and partners are currently working with the municipalities along the corridor to implement the recommendations of the study and build more miles of trail.

In southwest Pennsylvania, PEC is partnering with Friends of the Riverfront and Allegheny County to develop the Turtle Creek Connector, which would link the Great Allegheny Passage to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail and provide non-motorized transit opportunities to Pittsburgh for Turtle Creek Valley residents.

Across the state, we are looking at ways to enhance and expand cycling, as well as provide resources to help communities benefit from outdoor recreation. A report published last year, NEPA Trails: Assessing Community and Connectivity in Northeastern PA, focused on assessing the cycling “ecosystem” in an eight-county region of northeastern Pennsylvania. It offered recommendations on closing trail gaps and cultivating bike-friendly communities.

The Philly Bike Expo introduced participants to cycling events well outside of Greater Philadelphia, such as the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo in northeast Pennsylvania. The annual gravel ride has been major catalyst for raising awareness of the region’s trails and attracting visitors who contribute to the local economy.

In 2024, PEC is hosting two rides of its own for cyclists of all skill levels. Bikeout returns this year with a supported overnight excursion in southeast Pennsylvania, and in September gravel riders will experience Black Moshannon State Park in central PA on the Public Lands Ride. Both are great opportunities to explore beautiful parts of the state and connect with people in the cycling community.

Links for more information on some of our trail initiatives: