Posts Categorized in 'Programs'
Early voting opened yesterday in Maryland for the 2014 primary election. Primary election voting closes on Tuesday, June 24 to determine which candidate will represent their party in the general election to be held in November. Being a mid-term election, no presidential elections (and in this case Maryland U.S. Senators) are held, but other important offices are up for election including Governor, U.S. House of Representatives, the Maryland General Assembly (state senators and delegates) as well as Baltimore County Executive and Council.
In April, I invited candidates to share their views on bicycling in and around Baltimore through an online survey. Candidates, or their staff, had until the close of Bike Month, May 31st to complete the survey. As promised, those survey results are ready. While other offices, such as Attorney General, Comptroller, Sheriff and judges are open for election, the focus was on the executive and legislative races as these offices have a greater impact on biking conditions.
Of all 216 eligible candidates, 79 took the survey. That’s a 37% response rate. While there were only 6 mandatory questions, most completed the survey of 21 questions. Only one candidate for Governor, Anthony Brown, completed the survey.
Click here for the 2014 Baltimore Area Candidates Survey Results
Reading the Results:
- To offer a side by side comparison, the survey results are available as a MicroSoft Excel spreadsheet (*.xls)
- Each office is broken out by different tabs visible at the bottom of the sheet (Governor, U.S. House of Reps, State Senate, House of Delegates, Baltimore County Executive and Baltimore County Council)
- Across the top of each tab, the survey questions are listed in bold. A list of multiple choice answers are located on the 2nd row in italics. Where multiple choices questions offered “Select All That Apply” answers, these answers are grouped together with borders.
- On each tab, candidates are groups by their district. Scroll down through each tabs to see the candidates who have responded. Candidates who did not participate are listed at the bottom of each tab. There are many bike friendly candidates who did not participate.
- These survey results are for your use in helping share candidate’s views on bicycling. The survey will possibly be available for the General Election in November. This blog currently does not endorse any particular candidate or party but provides this information as a service to the biking community.
Other interesting stats produced from survey responses:
Over the past two years, the Baltimore County Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) has made an effort to make the county a more walkable and bikeable community. The committee is comprised of councilmatic citizen appointees as well as county agencies representatives from the Office of Planning and Departments of Public Works, Recreation & Parks and Health. Created through legislation sponsored by Councilmen David Marks and Tom Quirk, the committee was instrumental in drafting the county’s Complete Streets policy, which recently won praise from Smart Growth America as one of the Top 10 CS policies of 2013.
Unfortunately, this has been the culmination of the committee’s success. In recent months, the citizen appointees of the committee has faced a major stonewall from county officials.
At the March 11th meeting, the committee heard from the State Highway Administration on how the county could utilize state funds and services to create sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure and trails. In priority funding areas, which cover most of the county inside the URDL, the only obligation for these projects was post-construction maintenance and to provide public notice of the projects. Instead of taking the advantage of this opportunity, county officials offered only excuses as to why this could not be done. Meanwhile, other jurisdictions like Montgomery County are developing world-class transportation trail systems with these same funds.
Following the March 11th committee meeting, the second public input meeting was held to hear what projects citizens would like to see implemented. Other suggestions were submitted to the county before and after the meeting. The list of projects offered by Baltimore County residents included:
- The Star Spangled Banner Trail through North Point
- A Transportation Trail Master Plan which included the Torrey C. Brown/Northern Central Railroad Trail connection to the Jones Falls Trail, Greenspring Valley Railroad Trail, Maryland & Pennsylvania (Ma & Pa) Railroad Trail and the Gwynns Falls Trail connection to the BWI Trail.
- County support for the preservation of an I-70 overpass at W Forest Park Avenue for the Gwynns Falls Trail to connect to the future Red Line Station
- A feasibility study for a tunnel under Bloomsbury Avenue for the Catonsville Short Line Trail
- The Towson Bike Loop “Spokes” project which would add bike lanes and signed routes radiating from the Towson Bike Loop. The original Towson Bike Loop, adding bike lanes and routes to roads around Towson is due for construction in June.
- The project which garnered the most support was the Northeast Trail. The Northeast Trail has been on the county’s drafting tables for nearly a decade. This trail, which parallels Perry Hall Blvd from Silver Spring Road to Lillian Holt Drive, the follows the BG&E right-of-way to Herring Run, has the support of every city and county community association along the proposed alignment.
The April 22nd PBAC committee meeting featured the Office of Planning’s report on which projects to support. The list of supported projects was developed by the Office of Planning after discussions with the Department of Public Works, which oversees roadway improvements and the County Executive’s office. Of all the improvements offered by the community, only two were selected:
- Adding countdown pedestrian signals to some intersections of Bosley Avenue
- 500’ of sidewalk on Rolling Road in Catonsville
All other recommendations have been delayed indefinitely! The most startling indication of the county’s indifference to bicycle projects was the deferment of the Towson “Spokes” plan. This project, which included road diets and utilizing excess pavement for bike lanes, was deferred due to the development taking place in and around Towson. The county wanted to see how vehicular traffic would be affected by these improvements BEFORE adding any bicycle improvements. By this inaction, the county is resigned to plan for more car traffic by NOT planning for or encouraging bicycle, pedestrian or transit traffic.
Citizen members of the committee were visibly agitated by the county’s decision. Carol Silldorff, executive director of Bike Maryland, was first to express her frustration. “This is not enough! Baltimore County needs to support more of these projects as we’re falling farther behind other progressive communities.”
Kathy Schlabach from the Office of Planning answered by stating, “There’s no budget for these projects. The County Executive wants to put every available dollar towards schools.”
When asked who was staffing the bicycle program, Ms. Schlabach indicated she was the only staff and only at a fraction of her time. She also indicated that there was ZERO LOCAL FUNDING FOR BIKE PROJECTS! The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Bikeways Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program could potentially fund the vast majority of the projects suggested, especially if the available state and federal funding was combined to have state funds match the federal funds. However, for almost any project, the county would need to put up at least some local funding as a match and to devote some staff time to project coordination and outreach. Failing to do so leaves available money on the table for projects that have clear public support.
Ms. Silldorff also asked what else could be done for the county to support these projects. Ms. Schlabach replied for committee members and the public to contact their council representatives to help fund these projects.
Laura Cook, the county executive’s appointee at large, made a motion to send a letter to the executive’s office asking for a budget item of $100,000 and a staff position to support these projects. Committee members debated on the exact amount from less than $100,000 to $500,000. Where other communities are dedicating millions of dollars a year toward improving walking and biking projects, Baltimore County squabbles over pennies.
5th District PBAC representative Allysha Lorber offered to produce a list of what other counties and jurisdictions are spending on bicycle & trail projects. Ms. Schlabach then offered to take on that project and report to the committee at the next meeting in the fall. Both Ms. Silldorff and Ms. Cook stated that the fall was too long to wait for these numbers. Ultimately, the committee postponed the motion to wait on the report at September’s meeting.
Other ways the county is showing resistance to the national bicycle movement:
- Baltimore County remains the only Maryland jurisdiction NOT to have the East Coast Greenway signed. Some portions of the route are signed on the Torrey C. Brown/NCR Trail, but not the on-road section between Paper Mill Road and the city line.
- No Bikes Allowed signs are popping up at Robert E. Lee Park
- Baltimore County will not support any trail projects along the proposed Red Line improvements, even though it would connect two regional trail systems: Gwynns Falls Trail & Patapsco Valley State Park
Columbia Association is seeking enthusiastic volunteers to conduct counts for pedestrians, bicyclists and other users on CA’s pathways. By making a two-hour time commitment, you’ll be helping to improve one of the things that makes Columbia special! Your help is appreciated!
Building on the Active Transportation Action Agenda and fulfilling recommendation 3.7, data gathered from these counts will be used to gauge user demographics, determine usage impacts from pathway improvements and establish a baseline of usage for comparison with future counts.
You will receive counting process information and a confirmation of your time slot by May 5. In the interim, please contact Scott Templin at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Thank you for your interest.
With a documented increase in recreational and transportation bicycling around the state, more cyclists want to know how the biking climate will be affected by the 2014 elections. B’more Bikes is conducting an area-wide survey of candidates’ views toward improving the safety of bicyclists.
This online survey will be available to all registered executive and legislative candidates, regardless of party affiliation in Baltimore City and Baltimore County until May 19th, 2014. Results and non-responses from candidates will be available on this blog before the June 12th early voting period begins. Statewide primarly elections will be held on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014.
To promote fairness in survey availability, all candidates will be notified by email. As campaign season is very busy, please help encourage those running for office in Baltimore City or County to complete this survey. BIKE THE VOTE 2014 (Only valid candidates responses will be posted)
The Baltimore Bike Experience, an after-school bicycle mechanic program program that we run at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore by Bikemore. In this program, high school students are given all the tools they need to ride a bicycle or become a bicycle mechanic. In fact, one of the students, Andre,has been hired part-time at Race Pace Bicycles in Federal Hill!
With donated old bikes, students are taught the mechanics of a bicycle and how to ride safely on the road, then given a helmet, lights, a lock, and the bicycle that they worked on in class. The students are incredibly enthusiastic and committed and given a safe and positive place to be after school one day per week. For most students Baltimore Bike Experience is a chance to learn real skills to use for fun, fitness, transportation, and EMPLOYMENT!
Support the Baltimore Bike Experience online here
The Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks and Bike Maryland both have bike-oriented job opportunities available!
Bike Maryland is hiring a Bike Friendly Program coordinator. This position manages 12 bike friendly workshops annually to communities, businesses and universities as well as maintains a web presence. More information is available here.
Baltimore City Recreation & Parks is hiring a Bike Program Coordinator and a Bike Program Assistant. These positions will run the Ride Around The Reservoir at Druid Lake. For more information, check out the job descriptions below and contact Marcia Frommer at marcia.frommer (at) baltimorecity.gov.
On a bitterly cold January evening in Lauraville, a group of trail enthusiasts got together to discuss how to make the Herring Run Trail much more than what it currently is. Trading ideas while huddled over maps, everyone involved brought a special skill to the meeting: a cartographer, a right-of-way specialist, a trail loving parks employee, a bike blazer, a trail development specialist, a bike shop owner, a bicycle planner, a university community liaison, bike advocates and avid hikers. Everyone also had personal knowledge of the Herring Run stream valley – what’s there and more importantly, what could be there. Before the evening was over, the next steps to creating a world class urban trail system along the Herring Run were set.
Step 1: Go for a hike! On a similarly bitterly cold January morning, the first group of adventurers met at the corner of Herring Run Drive and Echodale Avenue. The morning’s plan was to hike or bushwack downstream to East Cold Spring Lane and determine where a trail could be developed. Heading south along the west bank, we passed through a ball field, then entered the woods where the deer and local kids blazed a thin trail which crosses a joining stream with an equally thin boardwalk. Running up against steep bank, we crossed to the east side and found a myriad of trails extending downstream to the Chinquapin Run confluence.
Step 2: Document that hike! The advent of GPS has made mapping hikes a breeze! Simply turn on Google’s “My Tracks” and walk. With a little cartographic magic, next thing you know, you can see your map in Google Earth. Add a few waypoints and some field notes and you’re almost ready to present it to Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. (But wait, there’s more) Field notes can include anything that would help or hinder the creation of a sustainable trail system; whether it be noted trail re-routes, brush removal and most importantly, trash removal. Being an urban park, many local residents believe the park to be their personal dumping ground. Such is not the case and needs to be remedied in many areas.
- along the length of Chinquapin Run from Herring Run at Morgan State University to Northern Parkway
- Along Herring Run from Echodale, under Northern Parkway, around Mount Pleasant Golf Course
- Along the streams and woods that surround Mount Pleasant Gold Course
- The southern wildlands of Herring Run between Sinclair Lane and Pulaski Highway
Points of interest discovered along the way:
- A million golf balls in the stream channel downstream from Mt. Pleasant
- A bottle refund is desperately needed in Maryland. For those interested in cashing in on easy recycling, hike the Herring Run!
- Beautiful graffiti under bridges and in culverts
- A cave within view of Perring Parkway next to a flowing waterfall
- Fox dens around Mount Pleasant
- Many rusted bike and car hulks, some in the trees.
- Deep swimming holes and rocks that would be awesome for a summertime picnic (pending results of a water test)
- Reforested lands once carved by man and water which would make fun riding for BMX & mountain bikes
Step 4: Present at the Baltimore City Trail Summit! It was determined early on the Trail Summit would be the perfect opportunity to share this endeavor with the public. What started out as a living room full of visionaries quickly expanded with enthusiastic volunteers wanting to be a part of this big project. There is no shortage of work to be done and many hands make light work.
Step 5: Meet with the Friends of Herring Run Parks As this truly is a community project, bring in the stewards of the parks on Monday, May 19th.
Step 6: Repeat Steps 1, 2 & 3 There are many sections of the Herring Run watershed to explore. Future hikes include
- a revisit to the west side of Mt. Pleasant,
- hiking up Overbrook Run into Towson
- exploring connections to the Herring Run between Taylor Avenue and Putty Hill Avenue
- downstream exploration from Pulaski Highway to the head of Back River, where a future kayak launch would serve as an epic southern trail terminus
- If you want to get in on this, the next hike is this Sunday, April 6th starting at 9:30 am from the Orangeville Community Park (Eager & Janney Sts) to explore the “Highlandtown High Line” – a (should be) abandoned rail line from Bayview to Canton. (Yes, even this section is fair game for a potential trail connecting to the Herring Run)
As the 2014 Maryland legislative session progresses, potential laws meant to benefit cyclists are loosing support while some have already been defeated. During previous successful sessions, bills were crafted after vetting from statewide advocates and state legislators before being introduced in either the House of Delegates or State Senate. This year, individual bills were introduced in a patchwork pattern, having more regional than statewide support, with many facing an early death; even before the Maryland Bicycle Symposium, where advocate support surges.
The first bicycle related bill to see defeat was House Bill 0241; which would have allowed motorists to cross a double yellow line to safety pass cyclists with the required 3 feet when safe to do. HB241 was introduced by 42nd District Delegate Stephen Lafferty, a long-time champion for cyclists’ rights in Maryland. The bill was referred to the Environmental Matters Committee where it received an ‘unfavorable’ report by a vote of 14-8. (The voting record is available online here) While the intent of the bill is to increase cyclists safety, Maryland drivers may not be ready for this bill. Double yellow center lines are installed primarily for lack of sight distance on roads.
Instead of passing a law that will likely meet resistance from insurance companies and bewilderment from motorists, a public service announcement should be produced with an emphasis on roadway patience. Some tag lines to consider: .
“I’ll be out of your way in just a few seconds”
“Is my life worth a minute of your time?”
“Thanks for your patience! My kids appreciate having their dad home safely”
“I’m trying to get to work too. I’m just going a little slower” (and not supporting big oil in the process)
House Bill 0092 sponsored by 11th District Delegate Jon Cardin is another bill that has received little to no support. HB0092 would have required motorists to pass cyclists with a minimum of 4 feet, up from the legal 3 feet. Like HB0241, this bill was referred to the Environmental Matters committee and received an unfavorable report by a vote of 22-0! Passing distance is relative to speed, vehicle size and roadway context. 3′ is plenty of space for a compact car passing a cyclists at 30 mph or less. 12′ is not enough space when a tractor trailer passes as cyclists at 50 mph. Traffic situations aside, several legislators did not support this bill because “what more are [cyclists] going to ask for?” With the 3′ law just passing a couple years ago, why the need for an extra foot this year? While there be a 5′ Bill next year? Additionally, with all the media produced by state agencies informing motorists of the 3′ Law, a complete revamping of this media would be needed if a 4′ bill passed. This bill, more than any other in recent years, has caused bike supporting legislators to question the intent of cyclists legislative requests.
Another bill that’s managed to survive is House Bill 0052 introduced by 18th District Delegate Al Carr. HB0052 intents to modify existing law by stating: “Every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter in a public bicycle area HAS all the rights granted to and is subject to all the duties, AND ONLY THE DUTIES, required of the driver of a vehicle…” This means that a cyclist is granted the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users (including obeying those laws) and nothing more. With this law in place, police and insurance companies would provide the same rights to cyclists. Insurance company could therefore no longer deny a cyclist’s claim who had been doored because they were riding ‘too far to the right.’ This bill would also help minimize faulty police reporting of bike-involved accidents, like that of Jack Yates and Henry Densmore. Facing a potential unfavorable report in the House Environmental Matters committee, this bill has survived by being reintroduced as Senate Bill 0808 by 10 District Senator Jamie Raskin. This bill will be heard by the Judicial Proceedings committee on Friday, February 28th.
House Bill 0530 introduced by 12A District Delegate James Malone and Senate Bill 0520 introduced by 13th District Senator James Robey are essentially the same bill which allows cyclists to operate on a roadway with a posted speed limit exceeding 50 mph. While many cyclists prefer not to bike on these types of roadways, sometimes its necessary. With these bills, utilizing a shoulder for biking will be allowed. HB0530 received a favorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee and is likely to pass.
Other bike-related bills are making their way through Annapolis like House Bill 0205 and Senate Bill 0378 which clarify the difference between electric bicycles and mopeds. These bills will be important as electric bicycles become more popular and enable cyclists greater range of travel.
At the end of the 2014 legislative session, Bike Maryland has proposed a closure meeting to discuss this year’s wins and losses and plan for the 2015 session. Holding this type of meeting will identify strengths and flaws in bills’ processes and language while helping to galvanize bike supporters.
Look for a recap of these bills after the end of the 2014 Maryland General Assembly session.
Baltimore County’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) is seeking community input to help identify the next round of pedestrian and bicycle projects to be targeted for implementation. Members of the public are invited to voice their preferences on which projects to fund at a Citizen Input Meeting to be held:
Tuesday, March 11 at 5 p.m.
Jefferson Building Hearing Room (Room 104)
105 West Chesapeake Avenue
Towson, MD 21204
The PBAC is looking for projects that will provide County citizens with the greatest benefit at the lowest cost, using state, federal, and private grants. Projects should have been recommended by Baltimore County’s Eastern and Western Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plans.
Bikemore & the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are collaborating on a Bicycle Attitudes Study, specifically aimed at those who do not ride bicycles.
There’s a lot of data available about what cycling people want. This survey will help to determine what measures might make someone want to ride, but who doesn’t currently ride, without asking them?
Please share this survey with those who currently do not bike in Baltimore