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Thursday, March 05 2015 @ 06:26 AM UTC

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Put a lock on transportation funds or put a lock on general funds?

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: I would like to point out many of the fees that go into the transportation trust fund are tax free so support for ancillary services such as police, fire and other first responders services for motorists that are paid from the general fund are not paid for by motorists even though servicing the state's annual average of 97,023 auto crashes takes up a heck of a lot of resources paid for by the general fund.

Over simplified, part of the problem is when the state puts the wrong emphasis on just building fast roads for cars the increase in crashes causes an increase spending from the general fund. And the reverse is also true, put the emphasis on safe streets for all users and smooth travel for cars and there is less demand from the general fund for ancillary services of our roads.

So in short the true cost of our roads cannot be defined by pennies on a gallon of gas and a small fee per driver and per motorized vehicle. This is the problem and not the small sloshing back and forth of funds to and fro from the general fund and the transportation trust fund.

I will also not that:
While congestion is an important issue facing the nation, an equally, if not more important issue facing the country and states is how to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements. Most transportation funding at the State and federal level is derived from the gas tax. However, State and federal gas taxes have not been increased since the early 1990s. As a result, the purchasing power of transportation revenues has declined as the price of construction materials has grown dramatically.

Transportation financing in Maryland was partially addressed during the 2007 special session. A portion of the sales tax was dedicated to transportation,....
http://dlslibrary.state.md.us/publications/OPA/I/Bumper_Analysis.pdf

So we essentially have it's OK to steal from the general fund but some are offended when it goes the other way??? Really, what's more important, education or more roads?

So now let's get into the article that I am reacting to http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=131915
Maryland Sen. David Brinkley is seeking to amend the state constitution in an effort to protect the transportation trust fund, a pot of money fueled by gas and car titling taxes, as well as fees and other revenue sources. In past years, the state has siphoned dollars from the fund to bolster the general fund, a practice Brinkley said needs to stop.

"The integrity has to be restored to the transportation 'mistrust' fund," the Republican lawmaker said in an interview. "You can't go harvesting dedicated funds to balance the budget."

I would like to ask just how many dedicated funds do we have anyway? Just one? And why does that one rate to be a dedicated fund anyway?

Let's make back to school supplies sales tax exempt but charge a small fee to go to a dedicated educational fund, let's make shoes tax exempt and make a small charge to go into a sidewalk fund. Let's do this for anything and everything that's important, dedicated funds for all! OK that's silly but no more silly then trying to keep a source of revenue that is already raiding the general fund from putting some of it back.


But Brinkley said this is not the time to talk about raising fuel costs.

Sorry this is exactly the time to talk about this: economic conditions since 2008 have partly contributed to recent decreases or no change in VMT.

The "need" for more highways is not what it once was. Just because we still have projects on the books from the time when Maryland’s VMT has outpaced population does not mean they are still a valid "need."

We really need to end this car first mentality! Keep what we have in good repair and what money is left over use for improvements. We can do this now with no increase in taxes. The problems come in when we stress "improvements" over and above all other things, we can do some improvements but how many is enough? Well if what we can afford isn't good enough then get sales tax out of the highway trust fund NOW! And raise taxes on those who want more road improvements. Oh ya, and let's start charging the trust fund for ancillary services while we are at, after all a dedicated fund for all things motoring should pay for all things motoring right?
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Cycle Maryland survey results shared at Bike Maryland forum

Biking in MarylandAbout 75 percent of the 2,300 Maryland bicyclists who responded to the online Cycle Maryland survey last year said they use paper maps and those who use the Maryland Bicycle Map find it useful. At the same time, 85 percent said they use online maps and 80 percent print those maps. The bicyclists also said getting outdoors, enjoying nature and traveling to restaurants, shopping and tourist attractions were their most popular biking activities.

Those were some of the findings that Rebecca Dougherty Goldman, research and performance metrics manager at the Maryland Office of Tourism, shared during her presentation at the 15th annual Maryland Bike Symposium, Feb. 22 at the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis.

The tourism office conducted the survey with the State Highway Administration primarily to evaluate the existing state bicycle map during Gov. Martin O'Malley's Cycle Maryland campaign – a six-month period that highlighted bicycle events and an awareness of biking in Maryland.

Bike Maryland – a nonprofit advocacy group – hosted the free, all-day symposium, which this year featured 15 expert presenters. Topics of discussion included: Bike Maryland's legislative agenda, Maryland Bikeshare Program, Bike Friendly Maryland Program, Bike-Minded Program, bicycle tourism and the new Maryland Bikeways Program.

http://visitmaryland.org/Newsletter/Insights/02.22.12/index.html
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ROAR for Autism

Biking in MarylandBIKING, WALKING AND “ROAR”ING FOR AUTISM

For the upcoming Autism Awareness Month families will join together, on bike and by foot, at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s annual ROAR for Autism event on Sunday, April 29. With a united “ROAR”, participants will help to break the silence surrounding autism, a condition affecting the ability of nearly 1.5 million American children to communicate, understand language and form relationships.

In an effort to raise critically needed funds for autism research, Kennedy Krieger Institute will host the eighth annual ROAR for Autism at Oregon Ridge Park. Kennedy Krieger, one of the nation’s leaders in autism research, strives to provide earlier diagnosis and discover how autism spectrum disorders affect the brain in order to develop successful treatments.

A day full of fun family activities, ROAR for Autism will feature several bike rides, including 50- and 25-mile rides for cycling enthusiasts, a 10-mile ride for recreational bikers, a 5-mile ride for beginners and a youth fun ride for the next generation of cyclists. Rather ditch the wheels? Attendees can also take a scenic walk on Oregon Ridge Park’s family friendly trails. Finally, after your ride or walk, relax your heels and wheels at the Family Fun Festival and enjoy music courtesy of DJ Kopec, children’s entertainment and carnival games, along with healthy snacks provided by Wegmans.

Participants and teams may go online to register, join a fundraising team and build personal fundraising pages—all in support of autism research. Don’t think you can drag yourself out of bed for a 6:30 a.m. bike ride, but still want to support ROAR for Autism? No problem! Snore for ROAR allows you to register and fundraise while you sleep in.

Additionally, an iPad2 valued at $600 will be raffled off at the event. Tickets are $5 each or three for $10.
For more information about ROAR for Autism, or to register, visit http://www.kennedykrieger.org or call 443-923-7300.
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Highlights from Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee December Meeting Minutes

Biking in Maryland...

3. R4-11/Bicycles May Use Full Lane Signs Status Update

Michael Jackson reported that SHA finalized their guidelines for use of the R4-11/Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs and had begun compiling a list of roadways for consideration for sign installation. Their initial list consists of arterials leading out of the District of Columbia and Taneytown in Carroll County. SHA is open to receiving other recommendations and anticipates installing the first signs next spring.


4. Law Enforcement Bicycle Training Video Update

Michael Jackson said revisions on the Law Enforcement Bicycle Training video would resume following authorization of additional funding, an issue that he is currently working on. He said he wished to schedule a meeting with traffic safety experts and bicycle advocates regarding the importance of enforcement as it relates to changing unsafe behaviors associated with traffic crashes prior to resumption of the video revisions. Jim Titus said that the Washington Area Bicyclist Association does not have a problem with police officers ticketing bicyclists for riding on the wrong side of the road, riding at night without lights, failing to yield, or failing to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, but that enforcement should be even-handed. He recommended that officers target the most serious violations that cause crashes and injuries. Beverley Malone and Greg Hinchliffe also supported citing bicyclists who violate traffic law.


5. Maryland Bikeshare Program Announcement

On November 4th Governor Martin O’Malley announced that Maryland would be funding eighty percent of the costs of the acquisition of materials needed to start bike station programs in Maryland or eighty percent of the costs to conduct feasibility studies for bike station programs according to Michael Jackson. He passed out Maryland Bikeshare Program brochures and said it is his understanding that Maryland is the first state to fund bikeshare programs at a statewide level. He said the deadline for applications is December 15, 2011.


6. Promoting Bicycling and Walking in Cherry Hill
...
He [Michael Middleton, Chairman of the Cherry Hill Community Coaltion, ] asked for assistance in developing programs where residents could acquire subsidized bicycles in exchange for money or volunteer service. At the end of his presentation the audience gave a round of applause.

...
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What's Wrong With This Picture?

Biking in MarylandFrom herald-mail

Editor’s note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.

...

The problem: A crosswalk across West Main Street (Md. 144) in Hancock, about 500 feet east of the entrances to the Hancock schools, ends at a steep hill, with no sidewalk or shoulder, on the north side of the street.

...
image

http://articles.herald-mail.com/2012-02-19/news/31078401_1_crosswalk-hancock-schools-school-bus
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Cardin-Cochran Amendment Would Boost Local Control of Bike-Ped Funding [and say thank you]

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: I have a few comments based on this article from Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Image: America Bikes

Baltimore Metro is a Tier 1 MPO, that's good news for us.

I also want to highlight this:

The way the Senate transportation bill, MAP-21, is currently written, all funding for complete streets programs is funneled to state DOTs, and for many cities and towns this could mean losing access to funds that make streets safer.

This does not apply to us as MDOT has already removed that funding (under the last transportation bill) from cities and towns with the exception for trail building. So I'll note that it is imperative that if this amendment goes through that we make sure MDOT follows recommended federal policy and not get picky about what cycling facilities they do and do not support along with other "creative" measures to make funding "go further" by spending the LEAST amount for bicycling and walking then any other state.


Cochran told Streetsblog the measure would protect local communities from missing out on important funds: “Our amendment would ensure that communities continue to have access to federal resources to implement transportation improvements that are meaningful to public safety, economic development and quality of life at the local level,” he said.


Mississippi is running a thank you campaign so we should so the same. Please take a few moments to say thank you to Senator Ben Cardin:

Contact Senator Ben Cardin
(Transportation is the topic)

(If you don't have ideas of your own just say thanks for his effort for "livable streets" or "healthy streets" as that will get the message across.)
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Bike Sharing Comes to Maryland

Biking in MarylandBy David T. Whitaker, AICP, Smart Growth Maryland

Need to get from Federal Hill to Fells Point or Canton — too far to walk, too much traffic, on Pratt Street, expensive parking — soon a new option — bike share. Grab a bike in Federal Hill, drop it off in Canton. And with bike lanes, get there quicker than a car.

As Maryland communities move to enhance urban-style, walkable downtowns, local officials in parts of Maryland are now adding bikeshare programs adding a new transportation choice for residents and visitors. Rockville is joining Washington, DC’s popular and highly successful Capital Bikeshare program this summer. Very soon the distinctive red Capital Bikeshare bicycles may also be found in the inner beltway communities of Bethesda, Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, and Takoma Park. College Park, White Flint, Greenbelt, and Frederick are studying whether bike share programs could also be successful in their communities.

Not to be outdone by the national allure of Potomac River jurisdictions to the south, Baltimore City is currently planning to introduce its own “B-Cycle” bike share system very soon to the streets of Charm City.

Bike share along the Patapsco River? Where will it be coming next?

Columbia and Annapolis are also examining the feasibility of bike share to provide better and faster travel connections from downtown to nearby neighborhoods and businesses. Local governments are now realizing that local travel provided by a bike share system can be a faster mode of travel than personal auto, walking or transit. How did this happen?
...
http://smartgrowthmd.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/bike-sharing-comes-to-maryland/
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Raise Maryland's gas tax? Only if it'll be spent wisely

Biking in Marylandby Laura DeSantis and Cheryl Cort, Greater Greater Wasington

...
The county transportation lists also contain important transit, bike, and pedestrian projects, but often these proposals languish while road projects advance. Other important transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and complete streets solutions never even make the list. We need to fund projects that meet the growing demand for more transportation choices that save time, energy, and money.

If Marylanders are asked to pay more, each dollar must be invested wisely. Residents need better and more affordable transportation choices. So where should this money go?

First, let's fix Maryland's existing infrastructure, like our aging roads, bridges and transit systems. Then, let's build modern transit to move more people efficiently and competitively, while providing alternatives to congested highways like the Beltway, I-95, and I-270. It's long past time for critical rail investments like the Purple Line, Baltimore Red Line and MARC expansion, and better bus service.

At the local level, state revenue to local governments should go to fix and maintain local street connections, sidewalks, and bikeways for existing communities.

Moreover, given high unemployment, smart growth transit options can help the economy. Public transportation and road maintenance are the biggest job creators. According to the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, investments in road maintenance projects create 9% more jobs than spending on new highway capacity; increasing transit capacity creates 19% more jobs than new highway capacity. [And bike/ped projects even more jobs per dollar spent.]

If Marylanders are going to pay more, we deserve to know what the money will buy. We need a bill that that specifies smart, fix-it-first policies for the state. Otherwise, we're just throwing our money into the dark.
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If LAB ranks Maryland in the top ten, what does below average look like?

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: There is no doubt Maryland is putting a lot of energy to a "Strategic Trail Network" but Ohio got my attention (Ranked #37 by LAB) with this:
image

Note how much is already on the ground (green) vs what they need to do to (red). They have trails in urban areas they have trails that connect urban areas .

They have 3000 miles of trails and what do we have, like 500 miles? (I have to look that up) Even if you adjust for population (Ohio has twice the population we do) things still don't add up.
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Master plan to make [Ocean] city desirable for year-round residents

Biking in Marylandby Ann Richardson, Ocean City Gazette

...
He said the city must adopt a complete streets policy: a “comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal transportation system” throughout the city to facilitate safe, attractive and efficient movement and access for everyone. The planning board, Scheule said, is looking to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
...

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