Howard County is a bicycling community – Join the fun!

As temperatures cool, more and more people are bicycling, for fun, exercise, and basic transportation. Howard County provides numerous opportunities to join the movement. There are several events coming up in the next few weeks and organizations that are devoted to cycling. Our transportation infrastructure is changing to support a more walkable and bikeable community. Bicycles are now available on demand for short trips around Columbia.

Come join the fun. There are no excuses not to.

Columbia Bikeabout — Saturday Sept. 23rd

Columbia Association’s (CA) annual BikeAbout will be held Saturday, Sept. 23rd, with riders setting off from the dock at Lake Elkhorn. The free, fun and informative tour presents Columbia’s history and showcases the connectivity of its pathway system.

This year’s route is 10 miles long and winds through the villages of Owen Brown, Oakland Mills and Long Reach. In celebration of Columbia’s 50th Birthday, the theme of this year’s BikeAbout is “Appreciate the past and imagine the future.” To accommodate families with young children, a shorter ride is available around Lake Elkhorn with enjoyable activities and fun facts about Columbia.

Howard County Bikeshare

Howard County Bikeshare is public transportation on your schedule. Grab a bike, go for a ride, give it back. . . . Launched in 2017, the Howard County Bikeshare system offers electric-assist bicycles to their users. It’s easy, fun and comfortable. Howard County becomes a leader in active transportation by offering both electric-assist and traditional options for residents and visitors to explore the region. Howard County Bikeshare is available 24/7 and is perfect for errands, commuting, or recreation.

Bikeshare Program

Going for a ride is simple – with a network of 7 stations and 70 bikes, riders can register for a Yearly, Monthly and Go Pass on the website (Go Pass also available on the app), or for a Single-trip at a station kiosk and start riding within minutes. Try one out today!

Open Streets event — Sunday Oct. 1st

Bring your bikes and walking shoes and see how better street design can make getting around easier, safer and more comfortable for everyone at the Open Streets Howard County event on Sunday Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting at Dunloggin Middle School and Northfield Elementary School, extending to Dorsey Hall Pool and the Dorsey’s Search Village Center. Sponsored by the Horizon Foundation, the event will include action-packed stops with bicycle and pedestrian facility demos, food trucks, kids’ activities and more.

Open Streets Howard County

Open Streets Howard County is an initiative of the Horizon Foundation that seeks to promote a more bikeable and walkable community where everyone can safely and easily travel by bike or on foot.  Open Streets Howard County starts with the simple and proven idea that the design of our streets and neighborhoods should support and promote healthy living. Residents of communities that are built to encourage walking and cycling typically enjoy improved health outcomes, as well as many other benefits.

Nearly half of adults in the United States fail to meet the recommended amount of physical activity. But people living in areas with safe, comfortable, healthy transportation options — like bike lanes and sidewalks — are far more likely to meet those guidelines. Reimagining our roads as “complete streets” that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers will help us more easily integrate walking, biking and other healthy transportation choices into our daily lives.

Cycle to Health, Howard County Office on Aging and Independence

Cycle2Health Howard County is a non-competitive, peer-led, bicycling club for adults of all ages and riding abilities, coordinated by the Health & Wellness Division of the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence (OAI).  You must register to participate.

Rides take place during the week and on some weekends, during daytime hours, and depart from various locations in and around Howard County.  Rides depart in the morning, with the exact departure time varying by route and season. To provide an opportunity for safe and enjoyable riding for all C2H participants, three to four different level rides are offered each week throughout the riding season:

  • Casual rides are rides of less than 12 miles on relatively flat terrain at a relaxed pace. These rides are on pathways, trails or quiet residential streets with frequent re-grouping.
  • Moderate rides are rides of less than 20 miles at 10-12 MPH with some moderate short hills and maybe a longer hill.  Moderate riders should be comfortable riding in some traffic and should know basic group riding etiquette.
  • Moderate-Advanced rides are rides of 16-25 miles at 11.5-13 MPH, depending on the climb rate (slightly slower than the advanced rides). They include some moderate short hills and some moderate to steep grades. Riders should be comfortable riding with traffic and knowledgeable of group riding etiquette.
  • Advanced rides are rides of over 20 miles at 13-15 MPH and will include moderate to steep hills with limited rest stops. Riders should be aware of their riding ability and limitations before participating in an advanced ride.

Cue sheets will be made available in advance of the ride and riders are encouraged to drive the route to determine if the route is appropriate for them. Riders just getting back to riding or those who haven’t had experience riding in a group venue are encouraged to start with the Casual Ride group.

Bicycling Advocates of Howard County 9th Annual Bike HoCo/All-Club Ride — Saturday October 7th

Time again to join other Howard County bicyclists and cycling clubs on BAHC’s 9th Annual Bike HoCo (All-Club) Ride. Enjoy a GREAT Fall ride (63/45/34/26 mile routes) and post-ride social (beer/soft drinks). Start location will be at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory adjacent to the softball field on Sanner Road; check-in starts at 8:30am.

The Bicycling Advocates of Howard County (Bike HoCo) is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization founded in 2008 as a coalition of cycling clubs and bicycle riders in Howard County, Maryland. Bike HoCo advocates to improve the visibility and safety of bicycling, supports bicycling education programs for adults and children, and promotes a vision of bicycling and sharing the road as part of a healthy, energy efficient, and environmentally sound transportation system to help achieve a sustainable future for Howard County and for Maryland.

Howard County Bicycle Master Plan

In April of 2016, Howard County adopted its first Bicycle Master Plan. The Bicycle Master Plan provides guidance for both transportation and recreational bicycling, both on-street and off-street. Recommendations are provided in the general areas of infrastructure improvements, policy and programs.

Goals and objectives are:

  • Identify and develop countywide system of bicycle facilities to foster connectivity within and between the following: villages, communities and neighborhoods throughout the County, as well as neighboring cities and counties, parks and recreation centers, schools and educational institutions, commercial and employment centers, and regional and local transit facilities.
  • Facilitate recreational and transportation trips by bicycle in the County and improve safety for all types of bicyclists.
  • Recommend County policies that will support bicycling, including bikeway facility design.
  • Build public support for implementation of the Plan.

The approved version of Bike Howard is presented below. You can view the Plan on-line, print it or download it. You can magnify and zoom in on the detail in the maps and the Plan by using your mouse wheel with the PDF menus View/Zoom and then Dynamic Zoom.

Columbia Recognized As “Bicycle Friendly Community”

The community of Columbia, Maryland, has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award, joining more than 370 other visionary communities that are transforming our neighborhoods in all 50 states.

This bronze award recognizes the commitment by Columbia Association, the Howard County Government and other community stakeholders to improving conditions for people who bicycle through investments in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

A report card issued by the League of American Bicyclists recognized the community’s miles of bicycle networks, bike-to-work events, an active bicycle advocacy group and advisory committee, bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances, committed bike program staff and an up-to-date bike plan that is in the process of being implemented.

The improvements that have already come out of these master plans include new on- and off-road bike lanes and pathways, the addition of wayfinding signage, expanded educational and safety programs, a dedicated police pathway patrol squad, the widening of highly used pathways to 10 feet to increase comfort for all users, and a smartphone app for Columbia pathway routes.

Featured Image at top of the post

Bicycle rush hour in Copenhagen, where 37% of the population ride their bikes each day (by Mikael Colville-Andersen)


Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

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