Erie, PA Cyclist Creates Commuter Friendly City

18
Nov
2011

What do you do when you’re a bike commuter who lives in a city with no bicycle culture?  Well, if you’re Steve Shepard you take things into your own hands and start building up that culture.

Steve Shepard is a family man and daily commuter in Erie, PA…located in northeast Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie.  His love for cycling digs deep and he enjoys getting out on his bike, even during the conditions found in the harsh winter months.  Steve is happily willing to deal with the elements, but the one thing he is avid about is making Erie a more commuter friendly city.

Lack of bike lanes

Lack of Bike Racks

 

 

 

 

 

 

When asked about his motivation to get more of his community on bikes, Steve says: “Well, let me say this city is perfect for cycling to and from work.  It would be better for everyone if more of us rode bikes. We have a bike route that leads directly downtown and a Seaway trail that passes along the shore of Lake Erie and right by the 3 largest employers we have.  Also located on the Seaway Trail is the Erie Intermodal Hub, perfect for commuters.”

A Bicycle Parking Lot and Bike Station Would Be Great

The hub that Steve mentions currently being used as office space and bus stops.  His idea is to make it into a bike parking area equipped with all the accommodations needed for commuters.  Having things like a Bike Repair Station set up would be a great idea to go along with the parking area.

Steve goes on to explain that the buses and trolleys all roll into this area and could easily transport people to and from the hub if they are not in biking distance to get there.  All of the cities primary amenities are located in walking distance of the hub, and the city’s largest employer (General Electric) is only 5 miles away. Steve is one of the GE’s employees and chooses to ride there from home, but he feels that anyone could make the commute from the hub to the company.

In addition to his ideas for the Hub, Steve would also like to see more bikeways and paths that connect to the two that are already existing.  His current route to work is partly by way of the Seaway trail that already exists, but getting to and from there can be a nightmare on some days.  The lack of cycling options definitely makes things more difficult than it could be, but Steve refuses to give up and start taking a vehicle.  He is currently looking into this and is going to find out why there are not more bike lanes in Erie.

The Seaway Trail

The current situation in Erie, or what happens there in the future may not be of much care to many us around the country, but when I heard about Steve’s concern and passion to make things better…I just had to write about it.  I am nowhere near as Car-Free as Steve, but is it something I desire to be and am moving myself in that direction.  But this story doesn’t end here.  I will continue to follow Steve’s progress and brainstorm with his as to how to achieve the goals he is looking for.  What lies ahead for Steve?  Why not let him explain what steps he has planned next:
Hopefully with the help of fellow cyclists and advice from national organizations, we will turn Erie into a cycling friendly city for all to enjoy!  So I ask that you please follow along and watch as the transformation takes place. Who knows maybe I will inspire you to do the same in your community!

Steve would love your ideas and support

Progress:

Since first talking to Steve about his story and what he plans to do in his hometown, a lot of progress has been made.  He has taken this issue to a local cycling club (Presque Isle Cycling Club) and gained their support in achieving his mission, and now they plan on taking this to their city council.  He’s also arranged for a meeting with the HeathAhead Leader at his employer, GE.  The ball is now definitely rolling and it will be very interesting to see things fall into place.

Any advice, tips, or words of encouragement you have for Steve and what he is doing would be gladly appreciated.

 

Enjoy Your Ride
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22 Responses to “ Erie, PA Cyclist Creates Commuter Friendly City ”

  1. Tom Chandler on December 17, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I love seeing the work that the cycling advocacy groups are doing around Erie.

    Infrastructure is great, but we need to figure out how to educate the general public about the rules of the road for cyclists. Once motorists are aware of them laws and more cyclists are following them (because I’m convinced many people I see just don’t know), the interaction between cyclists and motorists becomes easier and safer.

    The problem is I have no ideas on how to make that happen.

    • Darryl (@lovingthebike) on December 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Hey Tom,

      Good to hear from you. Really the only way for it to happen is for it to be enforced through laws and tickets. Remember when they introduced the seat belt law way back? Well it didn’t start being done until they issued tickets. The same goes for laws to protect cyclists.
      For now, let’s all just keep getting the word out there and influencing as many people as possible.

      • Tom Chandler on December 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

        I agree, if we get more people cycling things should get better regardless of enforcement. Cycling needs to be part of the norm, not a fringe activity.

        Unfortunately, tickets would need to be issues to cyclists as well to avoid animosity. I’m afraid that would have the opposite affect desired.

  2. Laura Adams on May 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    My husband and I took our bikes out today and had to lock our bikes to a water pipe and an outdoor display.  Riding on 26th was too dangerous.  We would like to help because we came from a really bike friendly city and were able to ride nearly everywhere and save a ton of gas commuting to work.  Here is a link to the bike map from where we used to live.  http://www.ltd.org/pdf/EugeneMap.pdf

    • Eric Brozell on September 17, 2012 at 6:50 am

      Riding on much of 26th Street is difficult. There are optional ways of going east west. BikeErie.org is working with the City and County to resolve these issues. We really need people with experience from bicycle friendly places to help improve our area. Please consider attending one of our meeting to provide suggestions and to be involved in the process. The meeting times are always on our calendar. We also have a forum to discuss bicycle related issues.

  3. Eric Brozell on March 9, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Since my last comment the Erie Art Museum and a few other volunteers have taken up a public bike rack project.  They are inviting artists to design (sorry local artists only) bike racks with a local theme.  This project is hoping for plenty of community support and we are planning on having local manufacturers build them.  Once they are installed we will have a bike ride to all of the racks.  We of course will patronize the local establishments where the racks are installed.  The good thing is many of them will be in areas that have restaurants and bars so we should be able to keep our fluid and energy levels up.  Hopefully by summer we should not have to lock our bikes to a tree as Steve’s picture shows above.
    We have also gathered a group of individuals that have been meeting to figure out the best way to assist Erie, Pa, to become a bicycle friendly city.  There are a full spectrum of bicyclists, county officials, college officials and some local business people participating.  

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on March 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      I love seeing all this come together.  Thanks for the update and be sure to continue filling us in as it all keeps happening.

      Darryl

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  5. James on December 8, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Steve – Another GE bike commuter here.  Glad to have more people helping out!

  6. Amanda Gale Kotyk on November 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Very inspiring!  I can’t wait to hear his progress updates! 

  7. Vaughn on November 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Congratulations on what you’ve done so far Steve and best of luck to you in the future.  Good job.

  8. Eric on November 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Go Steve Go.  I am interested to see how things work out for you.  Will Loving the Bike be doing an update on this story?

    • Sshep21 on November 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Of course Loving the Bike will do a update story!

      • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm

        Yes, Eric we will definitely be following up on this and doing an update in the future.  Thanks for your support and for leaving your comments.

  9. Kim Beers on November 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

    The Erie County Department of Health has recently started work to support Complete Streets, Active Living By Design and Bicycle Friendly Community promotions. Please keep us up to date of your efforts and reach out to our Community Partner, Eric Brozell for ideas and collabortation to make this a reality for Erie. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to hear the voices of people in Erie speaking up for bicycle commuters and bicycle infrastructure improvements.

    • Sshep21 on November 18, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Thank you so much Kim. I have recently been in contact with Eric and he has offered overwhelming support. This is a great opportunity for a great city!

  10. John Rigley on November 18, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Way to go Steve.  Keep on pushing things and making your city a better place for cyclists.  This is one of the most exciting cycling stories I’ve read in a long time.  I am interested to hear more about what happens.

  11. Justin on November 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

    You are very inspiring to me Steve.  I also live in a city that could benefit from a better bicycle culture and I am now going to talk to our local cycling club to round up the troops and make changes around here.  What an uplifting story to start my day.  Thanks loving the bike.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      You’re welcome, Justin.  As soon as I first talked to Steve about this I knew we had to support his cause and help him achieve his goals.  It’s awesome, isn’t it?

  12. Eric Brozell on November 18, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Steve, I really like the Erie that you are promoting.  There are so many streets that could have simple changes that would make Erie a more user friendly community for bicyclists.  The one simple change that most streets could utilize is sharrows.  Sharrows is a road marking that has a chevron marking direction of travel and a bicycle outline.

  13. Julie Starling on November 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Steve Shepard, you are an inspiration!  I wish you the best of luck with getting your wonderful ideas implemented into your community!

    • Sshep21 on November 18, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Thank you Julie!

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