Howard County has developed a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, called Bike Howard, and “the Bikeway” has been identified as the top priority for jump-starting the project. But funding to implement the Plan has been minimal and suggests a serious lack of commitment to encouraging bicycle travel in the County. Here’s what you need to know about Bike Howard and the Bikeway. At the end of this post, there’s a link to tell County Executive Kittleman and the County Council of your support for the Plan.
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 Bikeway is a proposed network of safe, accessible bicycle routes that extends from Clarksville to Elkridge and Laurel to Ellicott City. The Bikeway includes 10 percent of the county’s Bicycle Master Plan.
More than half of county residents, schools and parks ‒ as well as MARC stations and park and rides ‒ are within one mile of these routes. It is a core network that we can build off in the future to bring safer bicycling to every neighborhood.
The Bikeway is underfunded
In 2016, we requested $9 million for three years and 31.6 new miles. Unfortunately, the county funded only $600,000 in its FY2018 budget. At this rate, it will take over 12 years to fund the Bikeway. The Bike Master Plan will take decades longer than promised.
Howard County is falling behind.
Other communities are putting far more funds into bike routes and seeing the benefits. Montgomery County is putting more than $23 million of county funds into bicycling routes this year. In Salisbury, which has a population that is one-tenth the size of Howard County, the budget includes $750,000 for the city’s bike plan.
Support for the Bikeway
Excerpts from copies of selected letters submitted to County Executive Kittleman in late 2017.
Howard County Association of Realtors
“Multi-modal transportation options are an increasingly important factor in the home-buying process. According to a 2015 report by the Urban Land Institute, half of US residents and nearly two-thirds of Millenials want to live in areas where they do not have to rely solely on auto transportation. In addition, a joint National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders study found that a path for biking, walking, or jogging was ‘the second most important neighborhood amenity in a home search’.”
Earth Forum of Howard County
“The Bikeway has the potential to make a great impact on alleviating environmental harm caused by cars and greenhouse gas emissions. A Rail to Trails Conservancy analysis found that increasing the share of all trips in the US made by biking and walking by just 3 percent would yield fuel savings of 3.8 billion gallons a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 million tons per year.”
“Many families Enterprise supports, both nationally and locally, cannot afford a car and struggle for reliable, convenient transportation. . . . . Enterprise is excited that some of the local affordable housing properties we have developed are near the proposed Bikeway. If fully built, the Bikeway would enable these residents to safely bicycle to jobs, services, transit, and over half of the county’s parks and schools. The Bikeway would improve quality of life, economic prospects, and health.
The Horizon Foundation
The Bikeway is truly a public good for all people in our community – for people who have children and people who have no children, for people who go to work and people who are retired, for people who are younger and people who are older, and for people who are facing financial challenges and people who are financially secure. The Bikeway is an opportunity to create safe and convenient bike routes for residents now and in the future.
Voice your support
We need $3 million for the Bikeway in next year’s budget to get us rolling. Join 1,500+ people, and tell the County Executive and County Council to increase funding for the Bikeway now. Click on the link below for an easy transmittal form.
Featured Image at top of post
Compliments of the Horizon Foundation: