When asked about the increase in the crime rate and the seemingly ineffectiveness of the program the Police were quick to point out projects that were done in Baltimore City. But were not those funded by a different program then the one run by your office? we asked. "Well yes, but that is not the point, the point is programs like this can be effective. " [This is alluding to the fact that the State takes credit for Federal Funded Earmarked projects, in short, if you want funding for a bike/ped project talk to Senator Ben Cardin and forget MDOT.] Mr. Funk also noted that over the next 5 years they will be spending more on police enforcement by adding an additional 115 State Highway Patrol Officers. When asked what effect this will have on local crime Mr. Funk responded "Probably not much but it does show we are committed to reducing crime by spending money at the State level."
When asked what will happen to the other 2/3 of the grant not yet spent, Mr. Funk said that most likely the reaming unspent funds will have to go back to the Federal government, "It's not our fault that the neighborhoods are not willing to spend the money to take advantage of the grant." But you are requiring the highest neighborhood match in the nation. "Yes and we are quite proud of that fact." retorted Mr. Funk "By doing this we making this funding go further. After all, wouldn't you rather see expensive stuff being built irregardless of effectiveness over cost effective projects that have a proven history of showing results?"
The way MDOT handles Federal Transportation Enhancement funds is vastly different then typically done in other states. Typically these funds are used at the local level to enhance the existing transportation infrastructure. By going above and beyond Federal policy requirements MDOT has twisted enhancement into big stand alone (capital) projects separate and apart from the existing transportation infrastructure. In a recent article Missed Opportunity what is not pointed out that the landscape panels along Road Island Ave, as well as the medians could be reduced to accommodate a bike lane. This is more expensive then just paint alone but cheaper then trails but to date no such solutions are in the funding mix, in fact the State has in several occasions in the name of bike/ped "improvements" removed bikable shoulders (Strathmore Ave (Bethesda,) Belle Grove Rd and Bestgate Rd) to create deplorable biking conditions almost identical to Road Island Ave. So by making things worst for cyclists the State is claiming they are doing things for us just because they spent money and totally ignored results.
While MDOT's 2010 Annual Attainment Report (pg 17) Fully admits they have not reached targets of reducing bike/ped injuries and fatalities (maybe next year.) In fact not much has changed in 7 years since adopting some of the "best policies" in the Nation but without funding going to a diverse and practical application of strategies nothing has changed and nothing will change.
Keep in mind that MDOT only controls 5,148 miles of roadway while the counties control 21,160 miles and municipalities control 4,678 miles of roadway, so does it really make sense to say only State roads can receive funding for on-road bike accommodations? (While MDOT does not say that point blank it is only State roads that get bike/ped funding for on-road improvements per their long range report. Not to mention Transportation Enhancement spending (only for trails per State rules but not per the Feds) for the next six years is near equal to what we have in the bank this year without anyone paying a 50% match which would leave us with 5 more years of funding to do more then what is currently on the books. And we are supposed to be impressed with the States position on funding?) The roads that have the highest potential of economically accommodating cyclists are a mix of State and local roads and funding should be available to all per policy laid down by Federal law. In response to Shortchanges in Md. commitment to pedestrians Neil Pedersen penned this letter, which in my opinion does not justify the States policies especially in light that the amount of bikeable roads have not increased, bike/ped injuries and fatalities have not decreased. Even more depressing is how we rank Nationally:
And from the 2010 Benchmarking report:
High to Low Ranking of:
Per Capita Funding to Bike/Ped, Maryland 45
Bicycle Safety, Maryland 36
Pedestrian Safety, Maryland 35
Cycling to Work, Maryland 46
Lastly look at the brown area on the right of unspent Transportation Enhancement funds for Maryland:
We have gotten some talk on improving the Recreational Trail program, let's see if we can get the same thing going with the Transportation Enhancement program. If you would like to see Baltimore County's Bike Master Plans really take off by allowing both on-road and off-road bike accommodations to be funded through Federal aid then write Jon Cardin firstname.lastname@example.org