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Thursday, February 11 2016 @ 06:26 AM UTC
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Land for trails is under attack

Bike Pathsfrom 1000 Friends of Maryland:


Recent budget discussions threaten to essentialy abolish Program Open Space and all related land conservation programs in Maryland.  Contact your legislators today and urge them to reject recommendations to take dedicated open space funds to balance the state budget!   

Although the Governor had proposed to keep Program Open Space intact in his budget, we learned in yesterday's House Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) hearing that the Department of Legislative Services is recommending that all transfer tax money generated for the purpose of Program Open Space go to the General Fund and be replaced with $50 million total per year, for ALL programs, from 2013 through 2016.

Program Open Space is a nationally renowned program that works, and people across Maryland - people such as yourself - are rightfully passionate about protecting it.  This recommendation made by DLS is a sweeping change in State policy that is a breach of public trust and would essentially end Program Open Space and related preservation programs.

This recommended action strikes at the heart of the spirit and intent of Program Open Space as it was created 41 years ago. It would abolish Program Open Space!  Now is the time to inundate the Senate and House leadership with emails and phone calls, rejecting this recommendation.  

Please contact your legislators today!   You can find your legislator at

Click here to get answers to frequently asked questions about Program Open Space and this proposed attack.

Click here for a template letter you can send your legislators.  Feel free to use this language, but the more you can personalize your letter the better!

Are you a member of an organization? Sign onto our letter to the Senate telling them not to cut this critical funding!

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Bikes should be allowed at Loch Raven reservoir

Bike PathsBy Candy Thomson - Baltimore Sun

When it comes to allowing mountain bikers to ride the narrow trails around Loch Raven reservoir, Baltimore officials have waged a two-year campaign of sticking their fingers in their ears to avoid the voice of compromise.

Let's be clear: Their concern for maintaining the watershed's integrity is admirable given that the reservoir is part of a drinking water supply that serves 1.8 million customers. Loch Raven is not a park.

But these officials act as if they alone possess the wisdom to protect the watershed. In their stubbornness they refuse to acknowledge that time, and best trail-building practices, march on.

And if they are successful in bottling up bikers on a tiny portion of the watershed, what happens to access for anglers, deer hunters and hikers who also embrace open space so close to the city?

After all, if rubber tires are a menace, what of boots?

Ask them about access for other users and city officials refuse to say. Bad sign.

MORE, the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, has been lobbying for continued access — where appropriate — to the single-track trails. Members have put money and sweat equity (more than 800 hours last year alone) into proving they are good stewards.

The Department of Public Works, charged with maintaining Loch Raven reservoir, has rejected those requests, contending that single-track trails create erosion in the buffer zone that protects the water. Officials insist that the only sanctioned riding is on four unconnected fire roads.

In 1998, the cyclists and the city agreed on a plan to allow riding on 12 miles of fire roads and to have the cyclists assist in maintaining them and policing activities.

For years, the plan was largely unenforced because the city lacked the manpower. In the meantime a network of single track trails continued to grow in the woods. Naturally, anglers, hunters birders and hikers began using the narrow dirt paths as well.

But today, that plan works about as well as any other 1998 relic (As the owner of a 1997 Toyota, I say that with great respect and a certain amount of fear).

The mud hit the fan after the city revived its force of watershed rangers, who started confronting recreational users — especially bikers.

Prodded by biking groups, the City Council reacted in November 2009, passing a resolution to get both sides working on a revised mountain bike plan.

Less than a month later came the Great Unpleasantness, when the mayor who liked the idea of bike trails was convicted of gift card hanky panky and resigned weeks later to be replaced by a mayor who wasn't as enamored.

The ensuing rearrangement of the City Hall guard saw the DPW head replaced by Alfred Foxx Jr., the city's Transportation chief and a former Army Corps of Engineers colonel.

All that explains, in part, why a resolution approved in 2009 remains unfulfilled.

Now we come to the tough nut.

Yes, Loch Raven is first and foremost a reservoir and all other uses and activities take a backseat. And there's nothing bad about public officials protecting a public resource — that's what we pay them to do.

But trail construction has improved since the days of Lewis and Clark. Heck, techniques have improved in the last decade. Those advances have allowed paths to be built near sensitive places such as rivers and marshes, areas that drain into reservoir watersheds, with little threat of runoff.

Groups such as Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, American Trails and the International Mountain Bicycling Association have incorporated those practices into their trail-building projects with success and are willing to share their knowledge.

MORE and IMBA have offered to help raise $50,000 for a thorough assessment of the trails and to help close those that are a public nuisance. State Sen. Jim Brochin of Baltimore County is working to broker a deal with the help of Under Armour.

But at a City Hall meeting last Tuesday, DPW officials clutched their talking points about buffer zones, sediment runoff, and the 1998 plan like a woobie.

Riddle me this: if the integrity of Loch Raven is so sacrosanct, why is it OK to have three golf courses and a shooting range within the watershed? And why is the city allowing heavy trucks to chew up the fire roads and create chocolate-colored rivers during the muddiest time of the year?

During the Gulf War, Foxx commanded an engineering unit that built roads to move soldiers and equipment into Iraq. He also managed military public works projects in the Republic of Korea and Germany.

No doubt he is a leader who has seen and successfully adapted to change. It would be nice to see him do it again.

"We've been back and forth and around and around on this," exasperated city councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke told both sides. "It's bikes, gang. Bikes and sediment. We should be able to work it out."


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How wide is your cyclepath?

Bike Paths[B' Spokes: In Maryland too often the answer is 8' vs the Danish standard of 13' (4 meters)]
When I say that cycle paths here are quite often 4 m wide, I'm quite sure that a lot of people don't believe me.

An amusing way of demonstrating this occurred to me on Saturday. I put my bike sideways on a cycle path which is being resurfaced (so officially out of use, not that this stops many people) in a position where it wouldn't get in the way, but would demonstrate the width.

As you'll see, if it were possible to ride your bike sideways along here, it would still also be possible for someone to ride in the same manner in the opposite direction without any danger of crashing...
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WABA Action Alert: Rock Creek Park Trail

Bike PathsRock Creek Park Trail is in need of some serious upgrades, read more and take action here:
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Debunking the "Trails bring crime" myth. Again

Bike Paths&quot;Local residents gravely predicted the trail would bring crime into their neighborhoods from Hewitt Avenue. But since the trail has been built it has been well received by most area residents as a great new amenity, and the Park Police have found that crime in the area of the trail has gone down.&quot; The Woodside community wound up voting 54-4 to support continued planning on the CCT.
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Get Your Bike Travel Fix on Route 66

Bike PathsFrom

Similar to the flow of motor vehicle travelers along the original “Main Street of America,” the influx of cyclists will provide an economic boost to small communities on the new route. There is growing evidence that touring cyclists spend more time in the towns that they visit, lingering (and spending) more than the average tourist. Wisconsin released a report earlier this year that out-of-state cyclists generate more than $530 million in economic development annually. And according to a 2008 study done along the Great Allegheny Passage (a nearly 150-mile bike trail situated between Cumberland, Maryland, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), bicycle tourism has become a major economic force. Business owners reported that a quarter of their gross income comes from trail users and two-thirds of the businesses saw an increase in their revenue due to their location on the trail. Despite the economic downturn in 2008, businesses saw an increase in gross revenue attributable to the trail (from $32.6 million in 2007 to $40.6 million in 2008) and paid nearly 20% more wages as a result.

Lon Haldeman, an experienced Route 66 bike tour leader said, “This route can be done as a camping tour in roadside campgrounds, however there are many unique motels along the route which make this a good credit card tour type route. Eating in the old cafes and diners is part of the charm.”
“The vision for Bicycle Route 66 is the same as the original vision for Route 66, which was to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities,” said Ginny Sullivan, special projects director for Adventure Cycling. “Bicycle Route 66 will be a perfect choice for traveling cyclists looking to explore the American heartland’s natural beauty, history, and funky out-of-the-way places.”
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Senator Brochin and Save the Raven

Bike Pathsimage

I know everyone has been anxiously awaiting new information pertaining to single-track trail usage at Loch Raven Reservoir. As everyone knows, it was stated by DPW at the last public meeting that they would have a review of our plan by the end of November. This however did not happen. Due to the overwhelming support from the public in their reach out to Senator Brochin, the Senator called a meeting to talk about the issue at hand.

Today January 11th 2011 I was afforded the chance to sit down with the Senator. The meeting consisted of Gary Nusinov (STR) and Bob Compton (MORE) in the role of “constituents and recreational advocates”, Senator Brochin, representatives from DPW including Director Foxx, Clark Howells, Marcia Collins, Ralph Cullison, Celeste Amato, Frank Boston III (representing UNDER AMOUR), and two gentlemen that I can not remember their names, one from DPW and the other with Mr. Boston.

First let me say what a pleasure it was to meet Senator Brochin. He is very passionate about Loch Raven. He has been on the forefront of issues effecting the watershed for more than twenty years. Mr Brochin clearly stated that the number one threat to Loch Raven is Deer. That statement is backed up by twenty years of DPW science. He lobbied for deer management through three Mayors.

Without going into the whole word for word analysis of the meeting, I will layout the general theme.

DPW presented their view of the history and current state of Loch Raven Reservoir. It was stated that we would not be told what the evaluation of our plan is UNTIL the mayor is informed. A couple of facts were out of place but with so much time between meetings, that is almost expected. However if you would like to see what DPW and John Markley from Baltimore County DEPRM have to say, you can visit (Baltimore Metropolitan Council) and search for articles Titled “Reservoir bike trails RTG brief” by Clark Howells [I think that's the right link] and “Comments on Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, Inc. Recreational Trail Use Plan Proposal” by John D. Markley. The comments will astonish you.

Senator Brochin Shortened the DPW presentation in order to let Bob and Gary speak

Bob Compton, Timonium resident and MORE's Co-Chair of the MTB task Force reorganized the history of our plight while placing on the table a stack of support that has come from citizens and businesses in and around Maryland. This included petitions, letters of recommendation, letters of support and some incriminating pictures of some damage done to the reservoir by a local utility company. . Everyone in the room could not believe that the utility company was clearing their easement in the reservoir buffer lands and DPW was not aware. He also stated that DPW plans on hiring a local tree company to widen the woods roads so that two vehicles may pass. Bob mentioned that the Trail plan was handed in to the DPW for review. The reviewing group (Reservoir Technical Group) contained members were that already opposed to bikes in the original meetings so why would they choose any differently now.

Senator Brochin repeated that recreational activity at Loch Raven is something that his constituents are die-hard about. He repeated that the deer are the number one cause of destruction. He requested that before the Mayor is informed from DPW that we all sit in a room and try and work this out and do not leave the room until it is done. He clearly stated that this can be worked out. He offered time at his office in Annapolis for us to meet again in order to solve this mess. Director Foxx said he would still consult with the Mayor first, but agreed that he work tell her that any decision they have come to is not final.

Mr. Boston informed the group of UNDER AMOUR's continued support of proper recreational access at Loch Raven. He stated that he liked the direction that the Senator was moving the conversation.

The DPW theme is that access is not an issue and that the plan that we submitted is only going to be turned down because of the laws that they have to follow, the Buffer Protection Management Ordinance.

Gary Nusinov was then given a chance to speak. Gary presented a pile of DPW's scientific studies and stated that within all of the studies, mountain bikes are not mentioned and that if the problem was that bad, then the bikes would be mentioned separately from recreation. He corrected the assertion that impact is directly correlated to bikes since many trails were in existence well before mountain bikes were invented. He re-stated that the plan that MORE submitted was a trail use plan for all recreation and that DPW had no intention of creating a recreational plan that properly met the needs of all users. Gary then referred to the Buffer Protection and Management Ordinance and read out loud. In a word, trails are allowed in the area and much of the damage we see from DPW in the bufferland is strictly prohibited. An example brought up was the recent dumping of fresh un-compacted asphalt at the head of the trail next to a stream. There was a lot of back and forth talk about some things that came to light such as our impact being equal to only 6 acres, other grandfathered uses, storm-water issues, and the fact that absolutely nobody in the room could disagree with the statement that Loch Raven will be better than it is now if our trail plan is accepted.

The Senator reinforced the fact that he wants to sit down in the next few weeks to hatch this out. It was brought up that the rangers could be doing much more useful things with their time then harassing the citizens and criminalizing them. The Senator read a letter from a doctor who talked about losing weight because of Mountain Biking at Loch Raven and the direct impact that the newly enforced rules would have on him. He continually expressed his opinion that we are all neighbors and that we enjoy Loch Raven and that the DPW is using too much government and it is unnecessary and unreasonable.

The meeting ended with a promise to all get back in the room and work this out, ASAP.

Please everyone show your support for Senator Brochin. His address is 705 York Road, Towson. His email is Please send him a letter of gratitude! Also, there is a town hall meeting tomorrow night Jan 12th (we just heard) about loch raven with Senator Brochin. For questions call 410-823-7087

Small Lecture : The worst thing you can do is create new trails, or use newly created trails! This is the number one argument against all recreation in the bufferland! STOP IT.

Thanks and please show your support for the Senator. I've got feeling...


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College Park - Ongoing Plans to Complete Trolley Trail, but Barriers Stand in the Way

Bike PathsProgress on the incomplete sections of the Trolley Trail are slowly moving forward, but some major roadblocks could significantly delay the day that we see a complete trail extending from the Berwyn neighborhood to the Northwest Branch Trail near Route 1 in Hyattsville. Because the trail runs through portions of College Park, Riverdale Park, and Hyattsville, there are a number of entities fumbling through the funding, design, and construction process. Following is an update on each of the incomplete sections.
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East Coast Greenway Committee Chairs in Maryland

Bike PathsMaryland – Greg Hinchliffe
Greenways advocate, chair for the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (MBAC) in Baltimore also serves on the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Greg, a long-time member of the Maryland Committee for the ECG, stepped up as committee chair in 2004. He’s also a member of our Trail Council and has been a resource for ECG long-distance travelers coming through Baltimore. In the rest of his spare time, Greg chairs the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in Baltimore, helps coordinate local cycling events, serves on the Gwynn’s Falls Trail Council, and is a member of the Baltimore Bicycling Club, Washington Area Bicycling Association, and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

District of Columbia – Bob Patten
Bob Patten is a Transportation Planner with Toole Design Group and also serves on the ECGA Trail Council. Bob has over 15 years of experience transportation planning, including national policy work with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and local trail planning both as a professional with DC government, and as a volunteer with the Washington Area Bicyclists Association and the Coalition for the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Over the course of his career, Patten founded the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse at RTC, organized a successful campaign to secure $2.5 million in ISTEA funding to complete 13 miles of the 24-mile Anacostia Tributary Trail System in Prince George's County, and became the first full-time trail planner hired by the District of Columbia. Bob is a frequent bike commuter and enjoys coaching his daughter’s soccer team.
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WMRT westward Expansion in EA process

Bike Pathsfrom TheWashCycle by washcycle
The National Park Service has begun the Planning, Environment and Public Comment period on the proposed extension of the Western Maryland Rail Trail approximately 15 miles from its present western terminus at Pearre Station to a point near Paw Paw, WV.  This extension will be under the management of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  Project information is available here.  The Public Comment period is from Nov 16 - Dec 23.  The project needs all the favorable comments it can get.
Note the Topic Questions Instructions here. Those submitting comments are encouraged to answer all, or part of, the six Topic Questions.  Since the Indigo Tunnel detour will use the towpath, it is important that the towpath have a surface that will accommodate road bikes.
There were two public meetings earlier this week which kicked off the comment period. NPS will make its decision next year. If you've never been on the WMRT it's really nice. And this next section will have several bridges - including six over the Potomac river, and two tunnels through the Paw Paw bends. It will also take the trail into West Virginia (and back).
WMRT extension
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