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Tuesday, May 24 2016 @ 05:36 PM UTC


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Lack of connections, visibility hurt ICC Trail

Biking in Maryland
Less than a year old, the Intercounty Connector Trail offers a new way to get across Montgomery County by bike. However, a circuitous route, a lack of connections to surrounding areas, and sections with poor visibility all hurt its potential.
Not surprisingly, area bicyclists were unhappy with the decision. "Why do designers think cyclists should have to go the long way, but cars need a direct route?" asked WashCycle.
[B' Spokes: It may be of interest on how we got to this point.

The ICC Was A Fast Tracked Project

The problem the government looks at the length of the planning process as an unnecessary expense (this is evident in the new Transportation Bill and the "streamlining" of the timing of the environmental review process. When it should be looking at the quality of the results. It should be intuitive but there are studies that show that the more you involve the public the better the outcome of the project. Does this take longer? Sure but it gets better results which is a lot better then one under used road putting a strain on our road budget for years to come.

Defend, defend and defend

While no planning agency says this is their policy it has become very apparent (in Maryland at least) that this is the state's policy. I say that because by the time a project comes up for public comment it is too late to go back and make changes as that will take more design time and there is no budget for that. So the public's only option is to accept or reject the plan as given. It is my opinion one of the mistakes the cycling advocates made was to request minor tweaks to the original design of the ICC rather then just saying "This design is unacceptable so it has to be scraped in it's entirety." Which may sound a bit extreme but certainly less extreme then the state's assertion "a highway is not an environmental problem, but a bike path is an environmental problem." So my advice for future advocacy efforts, no more mister nice guy, if the project design is unacceptable, it is unacceptable, end of story even if it can be easily fixed. Our policy should be to demand that they fix the plan first or we come out against the plan. (Just to note some local planners are easier to work with then the state, so use your discretion when working with local projects. I will also point out the irony of it's harder to work with the state with their bigger budgets and with more year end left over funds then with locals with tighter budgets because I will assert there is a greater need to be responsive to the public at the local level then at the state level. )

Stick your fingers in your ears and hum real loud syndrome and the impact on MBPAC

While this is directed at the previous administration [Ehrlich (Governor) and Flanagan (Secretary of Transportation)] I remain concerned vestiges of this attitude remain within MDOT. There is nothing about the current observations of the ICC and its trail that were not known before the project ever got approved. So why did they go ahead with it anyway? I can't answer that but I can point to an issue that hindered getting a full and complete trail as envisioned by master plans.

While the concept of having members from different state agencies on Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MBPAC) sounds like a good one, the gotcha comes in can a state employee vote against the policy of the Governor? With that in mind MBPAC intended to send a message to MDOT that this convoluted mix of on and off trail route + indirect circuitous routing of a bike "trail" was not a full and complete trail as envisioned by master plans. But that got nixed very effectively by the state by threatening to fire any state employee who voted in support of trying to fix this so called "trail" that we got. So instead of MDOT getting just one vote it got 9 votes by this tactic. (I will also note that when the vote took place few general public members of MBPAC were present.)

With any planning just on paper one group can say one thing and another group can say the opposite but here we are with things mostly in place and guess what, Ehrlich and Flanagan got it wrong and used excessive force in trying to ignore public/advisory committee's input. Perhaps if MBPAC amended its bylaws so members could vote the way they feel best and still be secure in their jobs to avoid this from happening again would be a good place to start. ]
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Gamera II HPH World Record Flight: 50 seconds [video]

Biking in MarylandGamera II is the second human powered helicopter from the University of Maryland's Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center.

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Maryland has a hard time spending federal money on bike/ped issues

Biking in MarylandExcerpt from The WashCycle (Just MD stats.)

And the rest of the rankings aren't very good for Maryland and Viriginia either
  • Transportation Enhancement  - Maryland #47
  • Surface Transportation Program -   - Maryland #45 (tied at 0.0%)
  • CMAQ - Maryland #32
  • HSIP - Maryland #16 (tied at 0.0%)
And to add some new content, once again Maryland UNDER spent its Transportation Enhancement money.

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Survey Identifies Ways to Better Support Cyclists

Biking in MarylandFrom Citizens Planning & Housing Association, Inc. blog

A survey conducted earlier this year by Maryland’s Office of Tourism, Department of Business and Economic Development (in collaboration with Bike Maryland, the Department of Transportation, the Highway Administration, and others) has shown that cyclists in Maryland are a tech-savvy, safety-conscious group that primarily uses their bikes for health benefits or pleasure. The survey, which was open to the public from May to October 2011, received 2,300 submissions and concerned cycling habits, map resource use and preferences, demographic information, and more. The key findings of the survey are as folows:

  • The top motivating factors for cycling are health benefits and for pleasure – 95 percent of respondents recognize these as leading factors – followed by environmental reasons.
  • The top four activities for all respondents were: enjoying outdoors and nature, going to restaurants for food and beverages, shopping, and visiting friends.
  • 75 percent of cyclists sometimes or always use paper maps to plan cycling trips.  Of those who have seen the Maryland Bicycle Map, more than 65 percent reported that the Maryland Bicycle Map was useful.
  • The overwhelming majority of survey respondents also reported using online maps to plan bicycle trips – 85 percent use them currently. A little over half of respondents reported at least sometimes using navigational devices while on their trip. Google Maps is the most popular web service for planning and navigating a trip.
  • Respondents across the board showed the most support for a map in a mobile application format. Additionally, they would be most interested in having a map that shows connections to local bike routes, parks and off-road trails, followed by type of riding surface and bike shops.
  • More than half of respondents reported that the amount of traffic, surface type and smoothness of the road, and speed of traffic were most important to them. Additionally, almost half listed continuous, safe routes and shoulder width as important.
  • For amenities, more than half of respondents reported that scenic views, parks, points of interest, and restrooms were most important to them – followed closely by food services.

The Office of Tourism and its partners in Annapolis have rightly interpreted these findings as a call for the state to engage with online resources that cyclists already use, such as Google Maps, while continuing production of the Department of Transportation’s Maryland Cycle Map. The conclusions section also includes a vow to use survey respondents to test any new products and services offered.

This very interesting and thoughtful survey missed an opportunity to learn about the infrastructure improvements bicyclists see as important for their continued and increasing use of bicycling for purposes beyond health and pleasure.  Since 45% of respondents use a bicycle for their commute to work, respondents would have been able to identify priority funding areas the state could target that might result in increasing the number of bicycle commuters in the years ahead.  In particular, efforts to make densely populate areas more bike-friendly should be a concern for state policymakers interested in reducing congestion and promoting physical fitness.

Read the full survey report here.

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Salisbury Seeks Grant To Improve Bicycle Routes

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: Just to note we have $38 million available in Transportation Enchantments funds so I put the amount requested in this article in millions as well for easier comparison. Ref: <a href=""></a>; ]
SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — City officials and local advocates are pursuing a state grant that will kick-start efforts to make Salisbury a bicycle-friendly community.

Teresa Gardner, director of Public Works, submitted an application to the Maryland Bikeways Program earlier this month for $0.014 million in funding for a minor retrofit project, which consists of striping designated bike lanes where road width permits, applying shared lane bike symbols where road width is constrained and installing permanent marker signs on the roadside as well as bike boxes at select traffic signals.

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The Cabot Tour route is coming to MD

Biking in MarylandOn June 13th Cabot Community Tour riders are coming to MD on June 12th. Here are the routes and days they will be riding.
June 12th Washington DC to Annapolis
June 13th Annapolis to Towson
June 14th Towson to Havre de Grace
June 15th Havre de Grace to Newark DE

It would be great to populate the ride with local riders. The riders will need to determine how to get back to their point of origin, etc. There will be two sag vehicles, one will have a mechanic. The rides should all be starting at the hotels that the riders will be staying at. Typically the rides will start at 9:00. Please feel free to post on list serves/send to email lists, etc.

Here is the URL for the tour.

How to register

Thank you all, and glad to have the route now buttoned down to be able to send to you.

Andrew Hamilton, RLA, ASLA, APBP
Mid-Atlantic Trail Coordinator
East Coast Greenway Alliance
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Tim Johnson's Ride on Washington [video]

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: A couple of videos from Tim Johnson's Ride on Washington. The first one is a good intro intro for the ride and the second one highlights our friends at Proteus Bicycles in College Park.]

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Maryland driver guilty in crash that killed bicyclist

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: Another victory for cycling advocates &quot; I thought I hit a deer&quot; is not a valid excuse for a hit-and-run, take note Maryland drivers.]
By Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post

A driver who fatally struck a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate who was out riding her bike was convicted Thursday of failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving death and other counts.

Christy Littleford, 43, of Upper Marlboro faces up to 10 years in prison for the September 2010 crash that killed Natasha Pettigrew, 30, a third-year law student at the University of Miami who had taken a break from school to run for office.

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Transportation Officials Who Are Changing the Game

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: Just to highlight one of the many great folks at Planning in Maryland.]
by Angie Schmitt, Streets Blog


Richard Hall

Secretary of Planning, State of Maryland

Richard Hall has led Maryland to the forefront of state-level smart growth planning. Photo: Flickr

Politically, you can’t give enough credit to Governor Martin O’Malley for Maryland’s new state-level smart growth plan, PlanMaryland. O’Malley stood up to rural opposition and muscled legislation through late last year to put in place what may be the most progressive state-level land use planning in the country.

But you also can’t separate the governor’s successes from the man behind the scenes, turning policy positions into reality: Richard Hall. With Hall’s help, for decades Maryland has been laying the groundwork to be a national leader in smart growth.

Hall started at Maryland’s Department of Planning in 1992. He worked his way from principal planner to director of land use planning to head of the agency, a title he has held for five years.

All the while he was helping move the state toward this moment. Hall’s work contributed to the state’s Smart Growth Act in 1997, which established “priority growth areas” for the state and set the stage for PlanMaryland.

Now, under Hall’s leadership, Maryland will decide which areas of the state will be prioritized for development. The process, by its nature, divides places into winners and losers and is sure to be a thorny undertaking, full of political hurdles. But the work of PlanMaryland has always been thorny.

Hall doesn’t shy away from facing the critics head on. “Some lawmakers contend they want to ‘save rural Maryland’ from PlanMaryland,” he said in a local forum recently. “But their aim seems to be to ‘pave rural Maryland.’”

Hall and O’Malley both recognize that for too long Maryland’s system was already dividing the state into winners and losers, as the interests of cities and existing communities were supplanted by unplanned, sprawling development. It will take strong leadership to change the dynamic. But these two are up to the task.

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Bike lanes next to parking – how wide is wide enough?

Biking in MarylandIn this excllent post by Jack Cochrane in Cycle MoCo Jack discusses an issue important to all Maryland cyclists, door zone bike lanes. While I'll highlight his solution the rest of his post is worth reading:

The Alternative:  Sharrows

If 14 feet is not available for the bike lane + parking, I recommend sharrows as the preferable solution.  Maryland law requires cyclists to use bike lanes where they’re present, but riders can legally ignore sharrows.   So even if they’re painted unreasonably close to parked cars (Maryland standards call for them to be at least 11 feet from the curb, which puts cyclists in the door  zone again), cyclists are free to ignore them.  Sharrows give cyclists the discretion to ride where they feel it’s safest.   Sharrows ideally should be painted 12′ or 13′ from the curb when there’s parking.  Or they can be painted down the center of the right lane as seen on George Mason Drive in Arlington.  New ideas are being tried all the time.  Here is an interesting hybrid of a bike lane and a sharrow.

So my request to Montgomery County and the state: either 14 foot bike lanes next to parked cars or sharrows or sometimes no bike-specific markings at all.–-how-wide-is-wide-enough/

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