Lower, Middle propose continuous bike path from ferry to zoo

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LOWER TOWNSHIP – Lower and Middle townships are working together on a proposed continuous bike path from the bay to the county zoo.

Local officials first announced the proposal to connect the two communities’ bikeways last July. They revealed a conceptual plan for the project at a Thursday, Nov. 26 meeting at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal in Lower Township.

The municipalities are now making an application to the county freeholders for $462,000 to complete the project.

The plan envisions cyclists being able to board the Cape May-Lewes Ferry in Delaware – after using that state’s bike trails to reach the terminal – cross the bay by ferry, and then enter the Cold Spring Bike Path to the Middle Township Bike Path, riding north all the way to the Cape May County Park and Zoo.

Mayor Michael Beck said it would be a “good fit for the environment and the economy.”

Middle Township has been successful in receiving grants for other phases of its bike path, according to Middle Township business administrator Connie Mahon. She said the final Middle Township trail expansion phase and the connection of the bike trails from the two townships would likely be completed at the same time, estimated to be in 2015.

Joining the two bike trails is the first step in offering additional riding opportunities throughout the county, Mahon said. She said the bike path would act as a spine offering side trails that would take riders to museums and businesses at the county airport, recreation areas, wineries and campgrounds.

Voll has emphasized the economic benefits of the collaboration.

“I’m very excited about their council and our council working together in the best interest of the taxpayers in both Middle and Lower townships along with DRBA to complete this bike trail,” he said.

Voll suggested that businesses be offered the opportunity to sponsor mile marker signs along the bike path.

According to township planning official Bill Galestok, Middle Township’s bike path currently ends near Indian Trail Road while Lower Township’s path ends at Sally Marshall Crossing and Cresse Lane in Erma. Galestok said Middle Township’s section of the path would eventually extend south from Satt Boulevard in Rio Grande.

Race promoter Stephen Del Monte, of Del Mo Sports in Wildwood Crest said the connected bike path would promote overall fitness and bring visitors to the area. Del Monte’s company sponsored three triathlons in 2013 – in Atlantic City, the Wildwoods and the inaugural “Escape the Cape” based out of Lower Township.

“Anything we can do to promote fitness and overall wellness, while paying attention to environmental concerns is a good idea,” he said. “It’s got to work fiscally, but these kinds of bikeways work for people of all different fitness levels.”

“Escape the Cape” drew 1,000 athletes willing to start their one-mile swim by jumping off a ferry into the Delaware Bay. The June 2 event drew good reviews from residents, local officials and the triathlon community, and was recently approved for its second year.

Representatives from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which is operated by the Delaware Bay and River Authority, also attended the meeting. The ferry’s marketing manager, Mike Porch, said the number of bike racks on the ferries would be doubled as part of the connected bike path plan.

He said the ferry has partnered with the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce in support of their effort to produce a county bike map.

“The Cape May-Lewes Ferry encourages bicyclists to use the ferry to cross the Delaware Bay for fun and recreational purposes,” Porch said.

More than 4,000 bicyclists us the ferry each year, he said.


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