Author Topic: Rural Pennsylvania Roads Still Safe?  (Read 3131 times)

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Offline Headwinds

Rural Pennsylvania Roads Still Safe?
« on: April 25, 2012, 08:55:34 pm »
We're thinking about riding our tandem from southeastern Ohio for a month or two of touring in Pennsylvania this fall.  The lettered "BicyclePA" routes suggested by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at look like a good basis for planning our trip.

We're experienced cycletourists and have had many long and happy adventures on two wheels.  But, we're wondering what has been the impact of oil and gas fracking traffic on the roads indicated by the PADOT maps.  Are they still low-traffic rural roads, or are those little roads now bumper-to-bumper, 24/7/365 trucks?  We note that Adventure Cycling has recently rerouted a part of its Northern Tier Cross Country Route to avoid the constant stream of huge trucks carrying sand, chemicals, water, and equipment for oil and gas work in North Dakota:

We've tried e-mailing the Pennsylvania Tourism office, the Department of Transportation, the State Police, and the Governor's office.  Either we can't find an address other than the Web designer, or if we have a good address (or Web ask-a-question form) we get no reply, or (in the case of the Governor's office) our message comes back with no response with a "noreply" address!

Offline indyfabz

Re: Rural Pennsylvania Roads Still Safe?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 09:54:17 am »
While I have not seen it myself, some friends tell me that the U.S. 6 corridor in north central/northeast PA has become truck central thanks to fracking. I think it's bike route Y that uses it for a ways.

This will give you an idea of where the activity is centered:

Not to dis my home state, but....I have looked at a few of the PA bike routes and have not been impressed with several stretches. For example, Route S uses a section of PA 23 west of Morgantown when there is a much nicer parallel route. The route that goes north out of Harisburgh looks insane in places. In general, the PA bike routes tend to stick to state highways. Depending on where you are, they can be more heavily trafficed. And "shoulder" is a word that seems to be missing from PennDOT's vocabulary. I would like to do more touring here, but the though of heading out into "Pennsylbama," as some of us call it, makes me nervous. I'd be fine with following a route that has been proven by others before me. Indeed, I have twice done supported trips across the state. But in planning my own route, I have fears of ending up on twisty, hilly, shoulderless roads with yahoos in pickups exceeding the 50 mph speed limit.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Rural Pennsylvania Roads Still Safe?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2012, 11:41:39 am »
I rode the northern part of Route G in 2010.  I was led to believe that was in the middle of frack central.  We saw trucks, we saw drilling, and we camped with out of state drillers.  It was OK, except for camping with the drillers, they move their RVs from state park to state park.  The state parks were understaffed, and driller are a rough lot to sleep near.

Offline Headwinds

Re: Rural Pennsylvania Roads Still Safe?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2012, 07:36:35 pm »
I just received this from the Pennsylvania Governor's office:

Thank you for your inquiry about the quality of Pennsylvania's roads and the advent of Marcellus Shale gas extraction. Your intentions to connect Pennsylvania's on-road BicyclePA Routes with the extensive off-road trail network will provide you with connectivity to much of Pennsylvania's natural beauty and fascinating history.

The impacts of gas drilling operations to our roadways vary proportionately to the amount of gas embedded in the underlying shale geological formations. A link is provided to a Marcellus Shale thickness map of PA
that illustrates a nearly direct correlation of quantity of gas to level of impact to roadway truck traffic, i.e., the thicker the shale formations, the heavier the corresponding truck traffic needed to extract the gas.

Gas drilling truck traffic will depend on resource sites such as quarries, rail sidings, etc., and may cause localized and intensified truck traffic on certain sections of roadway. Some areas of Pennsylvania, including the southeast and south central regions are not experiencing any gas extraction, and therefore, no additional truck traffic. The counties flanking the Susquehanna River in central PA are gas extraction well-free, and offer safe and enjoyable riding. Northumberland, Montour, Columbia counties, and all of the south central and southeastern counties from Fulton to Bucks along BicyclePA Route S do not have additional truck traffic.

The BicyclePA Routes  that you referenced in your email can be used as the primary corridors of bicycle tourism. From the BicyclePA Routes, state routes, local roads, and trails can be accessed to further explore the Commonwealth's many adventures.

BicyclePA Route Z, the shortest of our bicycle routes in northwest PA, is unaffected as a result of gas extraction. Truck traffic intensifies as you progress eastward into the Northern Tier counties of Warren, Forest, McKean, Potter, Elk, Clinton, Tioga, Bradford, Wyoming and Susquehanna. Northeast PA Pocono Mountain counties of Wayne, Pike, Luzerne and Lackawanna are not experiencing excess truck traffic near the Delaware River.

Route V runs from the Ohio State line west to east through Lawrence County which is mostly rural. Trucks, cars, and bicycles are all present with the added cultural benefit of horse-and-buggy traffic due to the Amish population in the area. Route A parallels PA's western border with Ohio, and intersperses travel on rural roads and on the Montour Trail.

Pennsylvania commends you as a user of alternative transportation for your visit to our beautiful state, and sincerely hopes that your excursions are safe and memorable.

We've decided to abandon the Pennsylvania project this year and, instead, ride over to Nashville, TN, and then do the Natchez Trace Parkway down to Natchez, MS, and home again. 

Offline mikefm58

Re: Rural Pennsylvania Roads Still Safe?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 09:11:58 am »
I too am considering a ride through PA.  My desired destination will have me using Route J from the BicyclePA maps, with a slight correction on the northern part of that trail to get me farther west to reach my destination in upstate NY.  Can anyone comment on how good or bad Route J is?