Gettysburg Bicycle Trails Enjoyed by Many
by Tom Jolin
In 2007 when Gettysburg Borough and HABPI teamed up to plan and build a safe bicycle trail system, hopes were high. Now, in 2020 much of the Gettysburg Inner Loop (GIL) has been completed and those hopes are rewarding the area with a practical system that works well. Young and old are using the GIL. They use their bikes and feet to get places, while enjoying the journey.
We think back to the words of County Commissioner, Jim Martin, who was one of the first Community Giver Parade Marshals at a past Kids Bicycle Parade at the Heritage Festival. “Kids, do you know what fuel powers your bicycle? It’s your calories,” said the Commissioner.
Personal health is just one of the many benefits of walking and bicycling. Young teens who live in neighborhoods where they can safely bike and walk to school and other destinations are significantly less likely to be obese. (Priedt, R., 2010) Additionally, overweight adolescents who participate in bicycling 3 to 4 days per week are 85% more likely to become normal-weight adults. (Menschik, D., et al., 2008) No matter what the age, bicyling and walking create better health. Even though Adams County has a 72% overweight and obesity rate, our area is dealing with the problems. WellSpan, Healthy Adams County, our schools, the Adams County Community Foundation, Hoffman Charitable Trust, the Physical Fitness Task Force and HABPI are all working to heal this situation. This is a full-scale effort and thus, we can see positive results emerging. That is an effort we can truly be proud of.
The western half of the GIL is basically complete from the GNMP Vistor Center to the Historic Train Station and downtown, except for 3- and one-half blocks. The GIL is getting close to bringing the tourists, shoppers, and diners to the middle of town.
Looking at the east side, the Lefever Street Trail is done. Further, thanks to the generosity of the Adams County Community Foundation, SpectraKote and SCCAP; Gettysburg Borough was granted a new trail right-of-way which will meet up with the west side of the GIL at the Historic Train Station. In addition, the developer of Gettysurg Station has included the GIL on its plans.
Economic development is a major benefit of the GIL bike/pedestrian system. Going back many years, the GIL has been supported by Destination Gettysburg, Main Street Gettysburg, GARMA and the Chamber of Commerce. These people know their business, so that support came for good reasons. As former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy testified at a Congressional hearing, trail construction contributed significantly to a dramatic downtown revitalization of Pittsburgh. Closer to home, past York County Rail Trail Authority Chair, Carl Knoch, noted the average annual spending by trail users on consumable goods is $2.3 million or $35 million over the past 15 years.
Let’s not forget that our air is cleaner when we ride a bicycle or walk, rather than drive. I think we have all noticed cleaner air and quieter road noise during the pandemic.
The name “HABPI” is no accident. We pronounce it “happy,” our philosophy. That may be a reason so many people, groups, agencies, and officials have gotten behind this effort. Gettysburg Borough and HABPI send warm thanks to all these supporters.
Tom Jolin has lived in Adams County since 1971. He helped create HABPI in 2005 and is a member of the HABPI Board.