Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 05:29 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Maryland's over stress on off-road encourages the worst of off-road facilities (bottom half) over and above more appropriate on-road facilities. And even with the best of paths (top half) most MD paths do not allow for comfortable biking from home to the trail (Per NHTSA survey 89% of bike trips begin at a residence and only 7% at a recreational site), nor do paths generally allow comfortable biking from the trail to work or grocery stories, such an idea is not even in the works. We need a more workable solution then what's being offered and more verity in the offering of bike facilities at not only the state level but the local level as well.
Public participation is the key to remedying this and the following letter was put forth on one of the advocacy lists, I encourage everyone to write their own letter in support of greater public participation. ]
IC wrote this letter to MdTrailsSummit@dnr.state.md.us
I was just informed of the Maryland Trails Summit. Since moving to Maryland last December, and as I'm a keen cyclist who enjoys riding on multi-use trails, I've been eager to get involved in related issues, so something like this, which relates directly to cycling, seems like it would be something I'd like to get involved with. Unfortunately the Maryland Trails Summit seems to have been specifically designed to exclude people like me (i.e. a keen cyclist who has a limited budget, a job and a family) from the event.
Even if concerned people can afford the $50 admission fee (which seems especially steep in these harsh economic times), the event is scheduled for a Tuesday during school and working hours. I wonder, could it have been scheduled for a LESS convenient time? Maybe holding it on Thanksgiving Day would have kept more people away, but that's debatable. How is Maryland's Department of Natural Resources hoping to get useful feedback on its programs from concerned citizens when virtually the only people able to attend are likely to be well-off seniors or wealthy business tycoons with time on their hands?
Then there's the venue. Does it really need to take place next to one of the busiest airports in the country? If anyone wanted to cycle to the event, they would have to negotiate the numerous freeways that surround the venue. I mean, this is a summit devoted to trails. Sure, many people besides cyclists are interested in Maryland Trails, but surely most of these people live in Maryland and don't need to fly into BWI! As a cyclist, I would find it a scary prospect indeed to negotiate such a labyrinth of freeways and highways to get to the event on my bike, even if I lived within twenty miles of it.
Then there's the environmental cost of this event. It seems to me that the Department of Natural Resources should be discouraging the use of fossil fuels and encouraging more sustainable modes of transportation, yet the Department of Natural Resources seems to be going out of its way to get people to fly or drive to the Maryland Trails Summit. Honestly, with this lack of concern for the environment, what hope do Maryland residents have that the Department of Natural Resources is truly focused on safeguarding the state's natural resources.
It seems to me that this event is structured to appeal more to the travel industry than to the people the Department of Natural Resources are supposed to serve - i.e. the residents of Maryland. I'm eager to get involved when issues related to our natural resources come up, but with a limited budget and a kid in school, there's no way I can do this.
Please, when planning events like this in the future, have some thought for the people Maryland's Department of Natural Resources is supposed to serve! As for this event, I sincerely doubt anything useful can come from it, as it effectively prevents constructive input from the people who are most likely to use Maryland's network of trails.