Planning Your Vacation? Try a Travel Triathalon: Bus-Walk-Bike

Are you are looking to travel this summer and extend your wings by bicycle or on foot, but you don’t have the range or the time to ride super long-distance?

Look at a map and find a new place to visit within a 100 mile radius: a new city, verdant mountains with waterfalls, farm country or the New Jersey seashore. If you can bicycle 20 miles a day, you can get there in 4-5 days… and the people, sites and nature along the way can be as fun as the destination.

Try bicycling somewhere that is served by a long-range bus operator. While LANta Bus would be our first choice within the Lehigh Valley, beyond Lehigh and Northampton Counties, private bus companies such as Greyhound, Bieber, Susquehanna Trailways, Transbridge service many destinations in Pennsylvania. Most, if not all bus companies allow bicycles in the the stowage compartments beneath the bus

Contacts with various groups (American Bus Association, Pennsylvania Bus Association and Greater New Jersey Motorcoach Association) have bus company member listings, but no system-wide map of service routes, which in my opinion could really help travelers. That is why we have created this map to give YOU an idea what bus options are available and where.

For the walking/bicycling legs of a trip: try mapping services such as Google Maps, where you can choose a walking route, which follows the shortest distance on roads, or a bicycling route, which uses roads and multi-use trails that range from paved to mud and rocks (an adventure, but usually hybrid bike friendly). Google Maps bicycling directions will also show you an elevation profile of your route. I like to transcribe the route to Word or similar so that I can delete extra lines and print as two column layout. The mileages between turns are very helpful and easiest with a cyclometer on your bike, so you won’t need to rely on GPS or a smartphone while on the road/trail.

I have just returned from three days bicycling from Easton, PA to Lancaster, PA, attending the super fun wedding of Amy & Tom riding the D&L and Saucon Rail Trails to DeSales University, then to Fogelsville for the reception and camping for the night.  On the second day, a long ride past the Rodale Institute, through Kutztown, visiting friends and their beautiful land in Reading, PA. A few multi-lane arterials near Reading, but reasonable with practice, focus and riding predictably. A long, sweet ride to Lancaster and beyond to Holtwood over mostly quiet rural farm roads. A day to rest and enjoy company of sweet friends, the Clatterbucks, living life, being parents, being children, enjoying nature, music, juggling and ping pong – and taking a three year stand for the land where a 42″ natural gas pipeline is proposed to run through woodlands and beneath active Amish farms. On the fourth day, riding to meet the Bieber bus in Lancaster, transferring in Reading with two hours to ride around the city, and finally disembarking in Hellertown, with a short ride to the D&L trail and back toward Easton.

This article also inspired by CAT members Edwin and Janice Kay who last week completed a bike tour from Alabama to Erie, PA in 28 days, covering 1400+ miles on a tandem bicycle. They used Amtrak from Philadelphia to get to their starting point. Ask them if it was a worthwhile adventure!

Other thoughts:

Rail Service

SEPTA comes as far north as Doylestown, PA. NJ Transit reaches High Bridge and Hackettstown, NJ

Amtrak has a few lines in Pennsylvania that can be fun and easy (bicycles are permitted between stations that have staff to access the baggage car):

  • Pennsylvanian Line (Phila-Harrisburg-Pittsburgh)
  • Keystone (Phila-Harrisburg)
  • Northeast Corridor (Boston-NYC-Phila-D.C.)
  • Crescent Line (NYC-Phila-D.C.-New Orleans)
  • Service from Phila to Florida

Check out this live updating national map of Amtrak trains!


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