Shuster blasts Ridge's plan for bikes on interstate

September 07, 1997

HARRISBURG (AP) - A few words of criticism from an influential congressman was all it took for the Ridge administration to scale back its plan to allow bicyclists to use certain major highways.

The Ridge administration on Friday removed two roads in U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster's district after he attacked the proposal as a ``reckless'' action that could compromise safety.

Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Bradley L. Mallory said he modified the plan because Shuster, who leads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is ``one of the premiere advocates'' for highway safety.

``His opinion on these matters is of great value to me,'' Mallory said.

Mallory's comments came after Shuster released a terse statement saying he was ``seriously considering'' asking for Mallory's resignation.

A spokesman for Shuster said scaling back the plan to delete the highways in Shuster's district - a section of Interstate 99 in Bedford and Blair counties, and portions of U.S. routes 11/15 and 22/322 in Perry and Juniata counties - was not enough to satisfy his boss.


Bicycles ``shouldn't be anywhere'' on highways, said Jeff Nelligan. ``If it's bad for one road, it's bad for all roads.''

Shuster said bicycle accidents claimed 830 lives and injured 61,000 people in Pennsylvania in 1995, and most of the accidents were with motor vehicles. He said the two-year pilot project that Gov. Tom Ridge announced this week would create ``a dangerous mix'' of vehicles on the highways.

The plan, which originally covered stretches of five interstate and other limited-access highways in rural areas, was one of several announcements Ridge made during a two-day bicycle trip of northeastern Pennsylvania.

The goal of the project, which takes effect in mid-September, is to enable bicyclists to bypass narrow bridges and unsafe local roads. In some areas, bicyclists have no reasonable route around the highways, Ridge said.

PennDOT officials inspected the design and condition of the highways before giving the go-ahead.

Still scheduled to be opened to bicyclists are:

* The section of Interstate 380 in Lackawanna County between exits 5 and 6.

* The stretch of Interstate 176 in Berks County between exits 1 and 3.

* State Route 119 in Fayette County from Fairchance to Mount Braddock.

New Jersey has allowed bicycles on its highways for more than a dozen years, and the practice stretches back to at least the 1970s in some western states, according to Ridge.

``We hope that by making access easier for bicyclists, more bike enthusiasts from other states will come to explore Pennsylvania and its rich heritage,'' Ridge said in kicking off his bike trek Thursday in Clarks Summit in Lackawanna County.

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