Baltimore County recently released information regarding its latest bike planning project called the Towson Spokes Bicycle Improvement Plan. This past week, alongside our statewide advocacy organization and partner Bike Maryland, we notified County Executive Kamenetz that Bikemore will be opposing the plan in its current form. While communities across the country are working to implement policies and design that work toward zero traffic deaths through Vision Zero initiatives, Baltimore County continues to have zero vision when it comes to what safe bicycling facilities can be.
Here are our concerns:
Baltimore County is investing zero local dollars toward improvements. The plan is funded through the Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways program. This program has enabled local communities to plan, design and construct new bike projects across the state to encourage more people to bike, which reduces car traffic congestion and increases the quality of life for those areas. Communities across Maryland have contributed local dollars to make their Bikeways projects better. Baltimore County contributes no local match thus providing the bare minimum improvements which amounts to traffic sign clutter.
The plan does nothing to increase comfort or safety of road users. We know that separate bike facilities increase safety of all road users and encourage more people to ride bikes for short trips. Where the plan does employ the use of painted bike lanes, these lanes place the rider unprotected along multiple lanes of car traffic at speeds in excess of 35 mph. Where the lane ends, people on bikes are forced to merge with high speed traffic. We believe with more thoughtful planning, many of these issues could be addressed. Bikemore cannot support any project that endangers lives just to stay under budget.
The County created these plans in a vacuum. This project’s concept originated with Towson residents and members of the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC). The Towson Spokes Plan was then designed by county staff without any further input from PBAC or local bike advocates, many of whom are transportation planners and engineers. PBAC members asked to review the plans before voting on funding approval, but were denied. A request to review the plans before public release was ignored by county staff. These actions negate the purpose of an ‘advisory’ committee and contribute to an atmosphere of mistrust with county staff.
We invite the Bikemore Community to TAKE ACTION by doing the following: