6/21/14 Suburban Biking

Main Line Times Column, Places We Love – Suburban Biking

If you are reading this before 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, it’s not too late to jump on your bicycle and ride over to Linwood Park in Ardmore to join them for their first ever Summer Solstice Park-to-Park Bike Ride.  This free event serves three purposes.  First, it’s a way to promote the opportunities for biking in our community that we might not fully appreciate.  Second, it’s a chance to see new places and celebrate the work of the volunteer groups who are caring for special places in our parks.  Finally, it’s a healthy and enjoyable way to celebrate the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice.

When I first moved to Pennsylvania I longed for the wide shoulders of the roads in Upstate NY.  While they exist to accommodate snow removal, they also inadvertently allow for compatible traffic and biking.  It only took one bike ride on Mill Creek Road in Gladwyne with the poison ivy whipping my ankles and cars zipping past me on the curvy, hilly road for me to put my bike up for a while.  However, I think I was a little too quick to judge.

Lower Merion Township Staff has been working closely with community members over the past year plus to develop a circulation element of the comprehensive plan.  The Park-to-Park Bike Ride builds off some the concepts put forth in this plan.  One of the fundamental features of our Township is that traffic is driven to the major arteries and not through neighborhoods.  As a result, we don’t actually have to compete with traffic to get around; we can have an absolutely pleasurable trip through a quiet, tree-lined street to get around.  It turns out that it’s very easy to bike Lower Merion and Narberth if you are on the right streets.

Travelling along traffic-free roads also affords the opportunity to find hidden treasures.  The Park-to-Park tour begins and ends at Linwood Park in Ardmore.  Off the beaten path, this former parking lot turned paradise is well loved and cared for by volunteers and right now the gardens look amazing.  Other stops include South Ardmore Park, Wynnewood Valley Park’s Sensory Garden, Merion Botanical Park, the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, General Wayne Park, Main Line Cycles in Narberth, and Sabine Park.  Volunteers will greet cyclists at the spots to tell the story of what makes each place special.  At the end of the day each participant will likely have learned something new and might even find new ways they might personally like to serve the community.

What better day to have this kind of event than the longest day of the year!  Summer Solstice calls for the sun to come up at 5:33 a.m. and set at 8:33 p.m. for a full 15 hours and 38 seconds of daylight. The roughly 14-mile course can be covered in a leisurely day-ride by cyclists of all levels and still have time for more fun.

If you happen to miss the inaugural Park-to-Park bike ride, think about sketching out your own bike tour in your own community.  Look for the roads less traveled and sprinkle in a few pocket places they you’ve always wondered about.  Not only will it benefit your health but give you a fresh perspective on your own backyard.


For more information about the ride visit:



Patty Thompson is the Executive Director of the Lower Merion Conservancy and can be reached at patty@lmconservancy.org

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