CycleCT to provide added safety to cyclists, pedestrians in Cranberry

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When Brandon Linton was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago he needed to find a way to stay active and healthy.

Linton, 18, eventually turned to cycling 1,500 miles a year around Cranberry.

“Cycling just stuck out as a way to control blood sugars and keep healthy,” Linton said.

Now, Cranberry Community Planner Joe Shafer hopes more of the township's residents like Linton turn to non-motorized transportation with the employment of CycleCT.

CycleCT is the implementation phase of the township's Bike and Pedestrian Connections Plan, adopted in 2011, to connect safe cyclist and pedestrian routes throughout the community to enable an alternative to motorized transportation.

“This is a spinoff plan of the township's overall comprehensive plan, the Cranberry Plan, from 2009,” Shafer said.

“It was determined during that process that one of the top concerns of the residents in the community was improving bicyclist and pedestrian connections throughout the entire township,” Shafer said.

Shafer also said CycleCT benefits the township in the long-term.

“We want Cranberry to be a sustainable, growing community where people want to live for the long term with a high quality of life,” Shafer said.

CycleCT's first segment was implemented last August along a 3.5-mile stretch from Graham Park down to the township's southern border with Marshall Township at Thorn Hill Road.

That initial segment consisted solely of making road markings and putting up signage, which cost $7,510, to make motorists aware that they should share the road with cyclists.

Linton is already seeing more cyclists on the road.

“When I started you really couldn't find many cyclists in this area, but as time has progressed demand has really increased,” Linton said.

While some motorists might not like to share the road, cyclists are not supposed to ride on sidewalks in order to avoid accidents with pedestrians.

“The state recognizes [cyclists] as being allowed on all roads except interstate highways and that's where they belong, but we're not talking about senior citizens or kids that wouldn't be comfortable on the road,” Shafer said.

However, Shafer also said cyclists should opt for sidewalks in unsafe conditions.

Only five combined accidents between motorists and cyclists were reported in the township in 2011 and 2012, three of which were caused by cyclists and two by motorists.

“If you don't feel like riding on the roads are safe, whether it's because of motorists, or gravel or glass on the road, you'll be better off on the sidewalk,” Shafer said.

Road markings and signage were also recently put up along the 1.6-mile Graham School Road, which cost $2,240. Similar work is currently being done along 0.6 miles of Mars Road, just north of Cranberry Commons, to create a bike route parallel to Route 228.

Future north-south cycling signage may be implemented on Franklin Road, Powell Road and Route 19, while east-west signage may eventually be put up along Glen Eden Roadand Rochester Road.

However, Shafer said decisions on where to implement CycleCT occur on a year-by-year basis.

“We try to figure it into the budget, and we try to program it in with other roads and bigger road improvement projects,” Shafer said.

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer with Trib Total Media.

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