Neighborhood Connectors – Towamencin’s Northwest Passage

If you do enough bike riding in the North Penn area, you will, on occasion, discover unexpected connectors between neighborhoods. These connectors magically unlock previously unknown options for getting around, sometimes only available to bikers and pedestrians. Upper Gwynedd, my township, has a number of these, which I am familiar with from biking, running and walking. I probably should not be surprised when I find connectors elsewhere in the area. My latest discovery (which many locals already knew about) is in Towamencin Township.

Map of Allen-Forge NeighborhoodWhile doing some planning for an upcoming Bike North Penn community ride, I was perplexed that the neighborhood behind the Allen-Forge shopping center was somehow locked in, with no access in or out of the neighborhood except via Valley Forge Rd or Allentown Road.

Similarly, I was thinking about access to the North Penn High School campus and the bike share available to residents at nearby Forge-Gate Apartments. Was there no way for kids living in the Allen-Forge neighborhood to bike to the High School on quiet, neighborhood streets? Would a biker from Forge-Gate Apartments be forced to ride on high-speed Valley Forge Road if they needed get to the the bank, CVS, laudromat, or one of the other merchants at the Allen-Forge shopping center?

After spending some time looking at the map and not seeing any neighborhood street connections over to Weikel Road, I switched to satellite mode and struggled to find any little sidewalk which might run between houses and bridge the creek. I was almost ready to give up when I zoomed in on the Towamencin pool complex. There I noticed, between the tree cover, what looked like a paved driveway deadending into a playground behind the pool – which I had never noticed before when driving or even biking on Weikel Rd. I took a quick ride over there and sure enough, there are two paved paths wrapping on either side of the pool, passing through the playground and connecting with a simple, short sidewalk leading to Woodlawn Drive, near the intersection with Nash Ave – for people and bikes only – no cars.

View of Towamencin Pool and connectorAnd so now the secret is out. Kids in the Allen-Forge neighborhood wanting to bike to the High School can use Woodlawn + Pool Connector + Weikel to get down to Snyder and access the school campus. Forge-Gate residents as well as other neighbors can use the same route to take quiet streets to the Allen Forge shopping center. They can even take Woodlawn further as an ideal, aligned crossing of Allentown Road to more easily reach merchants like the Lidl grocery store via Columbia Ave.

As useful as the connectors are in the North Penn area, none of them are well marked and very few show up on maps. The region needs a better way to call out these connectors, as they are often keys to creating bike routes on quiet streets between neighborhoods and having alternatives to hopping in the car for short trips.

Community Ride Re-Cap – Lansdale to Hatfield and Back – August 19

On Saturday, August 19, we completed a community ride between the Lansdale SEPTA station and Hatfield Borough following a route close to the anticipated path of the Liberty Bell Trail – about eight miles total.

The weather, once again, cooperated as we navigated mostly quiet neighborhood streets with a group of more than 15 riders. This included one segment of the actual trail in Hatfield Borough. Some of the group were regulars and others were first timers. A few were folks we have had the chance meeting at Lansdale First Friday events or through the Bike Valet service
at Whites Road Park.

Though Lansdale’s Walnut Street cannot be described as smooth, the good news is most of thee hazardous potholes near the SEPTA station were patched. The streets, particularly in Hatfield Township were very calm and rideable. The one challenge we had was a very short segment on Orvilla Road – but the drivers out that afternoon paused so our large group could get through this area safely.

We look forward to the day when the Liberty Bell Trail is complete and bikers can will be able cross roads like Orvilla in a planned and organized way to reach the very rideable neighborhoods on each side.

Thanks all again for coming out for this ride!






Lansdale to Hatfield Community Ride – Aug. 19

The next Bike North Penn community ride will take place on Saturday, August 19 at 1 PM.

The ride will follow the existing and anticipated route of the Liberty Bell Trail between the Lansdale SEPTA station and Hatfield Borough. This ride will be primarily on quiet streets and parts of the Liberty Bell trail. We will be on Orvilla Road briefly.

The ride distance is right about 8 miles total (four miles each way) and we will pause for a bit in Hatfield before heading back to Lansdale. More details on this ride are available using the following links:

Facebook Event Info Here

Google Calendar Event Info Here

Route details on RidewithGPS


August Organizational Meeting – Deck and Notes

Here is a link to the agenda/presentation for the August organizational meeting for Bike North Penn: Click Here

We had 16 attendees at the August meeting, of those there were five new faces.

A few action item notes from the meeting:

  • Bike Lanes for South Broad Street
    • Lansdale is moving forward with re-surfacing of South Broad Street as early as next week. We still don’t have a commitment from the Borough to add the bike lanes as part of this effort. All Lansdale Borough residents are urged to contact their ward representatives and ask for this commitment.
  • Bike Valet
    • Dominic Frascella is looking for volunteers to assist with the August 22 set up at Whites Road Park for the music program that night. He cannot be there that night. We got some volunteers at the meeting, but the more the merrier.

Bike Valet – What is it & how you can use it

Bike Valet ID TicketOn any given day in the North Penn area, especially in the summer, there are local events ranging from festivals, to music and farmers markets. At these events car parking is often a challenge and some number of residents choose to walk or ride their bikes. Events in Lansdale, thanks to the completed sections of the Liberty Bell Trail, are very easy to walk/ride to from the southeast corner of the borough.

However, to make biking to these events truly convenient, people need to have some place to leave their bike, rather than walk around with it and probably bashing their bike pedals into the ankles of other attendees. The problem is there rarely a good place to lock up bikes which is both convenient and does not expose to the bike to possible theft.

After some thinking about this, Bike North Penn members Dom and Rena Frascella took it upon themselves to organize a FREE bike valet service, for both the Lansdale First Friday events in downtown and the Tuesday night Whites Rd. Park music programs. So you are asking, “what is bike valet?”

In this case it is a fenced in area near the event, with simple bike racks. The area is staffed with at least two volunteers who receive bikes from in-bound riders and fetch the bikes when riders are ready to head out. Each rider is given a ticket with an ID number when dropping off their bike, This ticket is required to collect their bike when they are ready to go.

And it is as simple as that. All they ask is that bikes are collected by their owners no later than the end of the main program times for these events. For Lansdale First Friday’s, that’s 9 PM and for the Whites Rd. music programs, usually about 8:30 or when the music stops.

Again, this is a free service, it is done with support from Doylestown Bike Works (where Dom and Rena work bicycle magic) and by The Partnership TMA Montgomery County as part of their Bike More / Drive Less program. 

We are interested to see how bike ridership may increase at these events as awareness of the bike valet service rises. This is a volunteer-heavy activity. If you have an interest in helping out any upcoming events or helping expand this service to other events, stop by and talk to us about it.

Doylestown Pop-Up Bicycle Lane coming in September

Reading now from the latest email from the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia (nothing to link to yet), it is noted TMA Bucks, is partnering with Doylestown Borough and the DVRPC for a pop-up pedestrian/bicycle lane on Doyle Street on the borough in the month of September.

This is outside of North Penn, but I am going to suggest we organize a ride to check it out, since Bike North Penn has discussed attempting something like this in our area. We should  document how this Doylestown lane is executed and then connect with some of the stakeholders about how this came about.

Also, by going for a ride there, we will be showing support not only for the pop-up lane but for establishing a permanent lane in the future.

On online survey in advance of the pop-up lane is available. You don’t need to be a Doylestown or Bucks County resident to participate in this survey:


Bike North Penn at Lansdale First Fridays

Friday, July 4 was the third monthly appearance for Bike North Penn at Lansdale First Fridays. These have been fantastic opportunities to engage with attendees. Not only have we been able to promote our community rides and explain our efforts for infrastructure improvements, like bike lanes on Broad Street, but we have also been able to hear the ideas and concerns from a broad spectrum of the community.

Here are some of our understandings coming from these engagements:

  • There is broad support for bike lanes on Broad Street and an interest in making the North Penn area generally safer for biking. We collected about another 30 additional signatures at the August First Friday from Lansdale Borough residents and could have collected another 30 from people from other municipalities (current petition is for Lansdale Borough residents only)
  • We did also talk to a very small number of people who were against bike lanes. We gave these folks time to explain their positions and provide some counter arguments. Most of them boiled down to the opinion that it is not save for bikers to add bike lanes – but of course, their are already people riding South Broad and other major roads without even a defined space that a simple bike lane would provide. I don’t know that we changed any minds, but it is always good to engage on these issues.
  • Our community rides, with typical distances of 6-8 miles and casual speeds appeals to many people who are not regular bikers. People also like to idea of getting out and riding in larger groups for safety and confidence. So we will continue to program these types of community rides and try to increase their frequency when we can.
  • There is a lot of interest and confusion about the local trails for biking – where they are, when they will be built out and connected and where they can take you. We will try to do a better job of posting this info in the Bike North Penn web site and making sure local governments are aware of this interest so trails can be prioritized in context of other local infrastructure projects.

See you at Lansdale’s June First Friday Event

Bike North Penn will have a tent tonight at Lansdale Borough’s June First Friday event!

Bike North Penn tear flagWe will be promoting our “Bikes On Broad” campaign and the Critical Mass ride we are doing on July 19 to encourge bike lanes be added to South Broad St. We will also be collection signatures from Lansdale borough residents on a petition for the bike lanes. If you have not yet signed this please do so.

We will be collecting feedback from residents for a Lansdale Borough bike safety/street survey.

We will have information on the Bike North Penn organization, upcoming group rides and upcoming meetings.

This is your opportunity to meet and speak with some of our key volunteers. Please to stop by.

Also – Next to our booth (near the Santa house by the train station) will be a Bike Valet space! We are encouraging everyone to ride their bikes to this First Friday event and when you arrive, check our bike in at the staffed Bike Valet space. When you are ready to head back home, just pick up your bike from the valet, and be on your way.

Mother’s Day Lunchtime Group Bike Ride – Lansdale Borough to North Wales Borough

This will be a relaxing ride from downtown Lansdale to downtown North Wales Borough, where we will pause for lunch before riding back.
Either bring some lunch money to dine at one or the North Wales Restaurants or pack a lunch.
Bike Helmets Are REQUIRED.
This bike ride will be about 8 miles total (about 4 miles each way) with a lunch break in the middle. This ride will be a mix of riding in streets and on parts of the Liberty Bell Trail.
Dress for the weather, and be sure to bring a bottle of water.
Be sure your bike is in good working order in advance of this ride.
All riders are responsible for their own safety on this ride.
Anyone under the Age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Bad weather will cancel this event.
Safety is always our first consideration.
Bike Helmets Are REQUIRED.

Bike North Penn May Organizational Meeting

Bike North Penn monthly organizational meeting: 7 PM, Lansdale Public Library.
Come out and raise your voice to make the North Penn area a safer and vibrant place to get around on a bicycle!
We will be discussing our upcoming group rides (next up this Sunday – 11AM ride from downtown Lansdale to downtown North Wales).
Also on the agenda, among other things, will be the next steps in our efforts to get bike lanes installed on South Broad Street – from Garfield Rd in Upper Gwynedd to Hancock St. on North Wales Borough.