The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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August 1, 2013

Bike lane an exciting start | Will link two cycling spots to downtown

JOHNSTOWN — It’s not much (in terms of distance), but it’s a start.

That’s our view of Johnstown’s first-ever bike lane.

The city will add a half-mile long “Share the Road” lane for bicyclists on Somerset Street in the Kernville section of Johnstown. It will connect two popular biking spots in the Path of the Flood Trail’s downtown trailhead and the Jim Mayer Trail Sandyvale Gardens extension.

“The idea here is to connect what we have into a trail system,” said Brad Clemenson of Lift Johnstown, which is partnering with Pitt-Johnstown on the project. “Somerset Street is an obvious way to connect the Mayer Trail to the downtown and the Path of The Flood Trail. And we can do it easily and safely along a street that doesn’t receive a lot of traffic.”

We’re excited about this lane, which will include the work of local artists, and the prospect of more biking options in the future.

As The Tribune-Democrat reported earlier this month, Cambria County has one of the nation’s fastest-growing obesity rates in the nation for males ages 20 and older. While adding a few bike lanes around town won’t cure that massive health problem, it certainly can’t hurt.

We’d love to see more people in and around Johnstown bicycling, especially as a way to get to and from work. Think of these advantages:

-- Bicycling offers a healthy alternative to driv-ing to work. It’s great exercise for those who are overweight – the website ibike.org says new, full-time bicycle commuters lose an average of 13 pounds in their first year, even if they maintain the same eating habits – or those at their ideal weight.

-- It’s good for the environment. Rather than driving an emission-spewing car that burns a precious fossil fuel, the bicycle is only burning calories.

-- It’s an inexpensive mode of transportation. With gas prices hovering around the $3.70 mark, who wouldn’t mind a “free ride” to work? While there might be an initial investment in a new bike, the maintenance costs for a bike are much lower than those on a car.

-- It reduces some of the negative aspects traditionally attributed to city living, such as congestion and noise pollution.

CamTran makes bicycle commuting even more accessible in our region. Whether it’s bicycle racks on city buses or the ability to take your bike on the Inclined Plane, there are options for those who live too far from work to pedal all the way there and back home.

The addition of the bike lane (and hopefully more) gives cyclists another reason to take a ride downtown.

While bicyclists and motorists are supposed to share the road, it doesn’t always happen like it is supposed to. Just last week, a Tribune-Democrat employee was run over by a city cyclist who was riding on the sidewalk instead of on the street as he should have been. Luckily, the newspaper employee and the biker were able to avoid serious injury, but there is a real danger that comes with riding on the sidewalk.

We encourage all cyclists to follow the rules of the road and be careful, just as we ask motorists to be cognizant of bikers and their rights.

If the number of city cyclists continues to grow, we’re confident that there will be more options for them in the near future.

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