State Approves Grant for Towson 'Bike Beltway'

The grant was among $3.13 million in grants announced Tuesday by the Maryland Department of Transportation.

A proposed Towson "bike beltway" was among 28 projects awarded grants on Tuesday from a Maryland Department of Transportation cycling initiative.

The $100,000 grant will go towards .

"These grants will help local jurisdictions build key connections that make bicycling a true transportation option," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement announcing Tuesday's grants. "Bicycling is a win-win for all of us by helping us learn to enjoy more of Maryland’s natural treasures, reducing the impact on the land, improving our fitness and well-being, and enhancing our quality of life.”

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, a transportation consultant and former MDOT staffer, said he was "thrilled" to hear of the grant approval.

"We have a lot of congestion in Towson," Marks said. "It's difficult to add highway capacity, so we have to do whatever we can to maximize the use of the current road network and that is what this is doing."

Marks said construction on the bike beltway could begin by this fall, as the county works on restriping roads. The route will include separate bike lanes where possible, or signage reminding drivers to share the road where the streets aren't wide enough for a separate lane.

The grants were issued under Maryland Bikeways Program, part of the Cycle Maryland initiative established last year, to promote planning and construction of cycling infrastructure. Including Tuesday's announcement, the program has issued $5.63 million in grants in 2012.

The county received a second $100,000 grant on Tuesday, for the design of a bike trail in Catonsville.

Baltimore County applied for the Towson grant in May, following the work of the Fifth District Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee.

"It was about a year-long process," said committee co-chair Stu Sirota of Rodgers Forge. "We had started with the Baltimore County bicycle and pedestrian plan as our guide and tried to pick the low-hanging fruit from that, and we feel it was the best opportunity to get something going quickly that we could eventually build on."

The bike beltway plan includes proposed spurs that could one day reach , and other landmarks outside Towson's core.

Several institutions, and , had spoken up in favor of the grant.

"We see this bike beltway as a first phase of cycling infrastructure in the Towson area and we're hopeful that once it's built that there will be additional phases that will help expand the network outward," Sirota said. "Our committee has additional concepts and ideas for how to make that happen, and we look forward to working with Baltimore County on that."

M. Sullivan July 24, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Marks actually thinks this is a way to "maximize the current road network" and relieve congestion in Towson? Placement of "share the road" signs ? Give me a break! Nobody pays any attention to those signs. I ride a bicycle almost every day, although I'm not one of those spindly, spandexed-up, Tour-deFrance wannabes who think that traffic is supposed to slow down for them. I give cars all the right of way I can because I know who wins when car meets bike. That said, I think this "bike beltway" sounds like a typical Maryland half-cocked implementation of a good idea. If this "bike beltway" is not isolated from the Towson traffic, you are going to have a lot of accidents from bikers with a false sense of security or entitlement getting hit. There will be people and delivery trucks parked in the bike lanes and no enforcement by the police, who have better things to do. I hate to sound negative because I would really like to see a true dedicated bike trail around Towson, but this sounds like an unsafe and inadequate way to do it.
M. Sullivan July 24, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Mr. Marks, that's partially my point. You can't do what really needs to be done with $100K. O'Malley can sit there and crow about what a good thing this is while he gives us pennies to implement it. If you only have $100K to work with, why not forget the signs that no one pays attention to and use the money for some high quality, secure bike racks in strategic locations. You can still have marked bike lanes (as long as they are enforced) but forget the illusion that narrow streets can be used safely by both bikes and cars. One solution to the congestion in Towson is to shut down York Rd between Burke Ave and Joppa Rd. and create an Eastern Towson bypass. Right now there are too many major roads converging in Towson.
Mike Pierce July 24, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Thanks Terry
MDcomments July 25, 2012 at 05:40 PM
This is great news! Please connect the Towson bike network to the light rail. Provide secure bike parking at the light rail.


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