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Most bridges from Philly to N.J. not so bike-friendly

Just one bridge connecting Philadelphia and New Jersey has a path where cyclists can ride over the Delaware River.

The Ben Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia to Camden is the only over-water route to New Jersey that bicyclists can actually ride, a new survey of interstate bridges from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia found.

Four other crossings that the Bicycle Coalition deems “accessible” require cyclists to hop off and push their bikes all the way over.

Out of 12 bridges between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, seven can’t be crossed by bike, by wheelchair, or on foot.

Two of those bridges, both in Bucks County, will undergo construction on bicycle and pedestrian paths in the near future: the Scudder Falls Bridge in 2014 and a bridge connecting the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 95 after 2020.

The other bridges have longer to wait.

With a shelf life of 50 to 75 years, most bridges simply won’t need to be redone until 2025 or later, says John Boyle, bicycle coalition research director.

In the meantime, he adds, closing off bridges to folks without access to a car is a lost opportunity.

“The Commodore Barry Bridge is a good example of that. You have redevelopment going on in Chester and on the other side of the river you have the huge industrial park,” he said at the coalition office in Center City. “There is no way for someone who wants to work in Jersey to get over there unless you have a private car.”

Boyle adds that it would be easy to add bike ramps on most bridges – given the money and political will.

“The Betsy Ross Bridge is 10 lanes wide,” he said. “There’s almost never a delay on that bridge, so there is plenty of room to actually do something.”

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