Campus To Become More Bike-Friendly.

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You see anyplace for a bike? I've lost track of how many times I've been squeezed into that curb going to work or a game. Where is the love for our carbon-free friends?

The Campus Department of Transportation solicited a eight month study to determine the best way to improve bike ridership on campus. This Gazette Article reports the details.

A university survey found that 5 percent of respondents rode their bikes on campus. J. David Allen, director of the university’s Department of Transportation Services, said he’d like to get that number up to 9 percent.

The campaign would address the many obstacles — too few curb ramps and marked bike lanes, narrow trails and a lack of parking — that hinder on-campus riders.

“There are these little things that will discourage people from biking,” Allen said. “We want to eliminate as many of these things as possible.”

I can tell you from years of personal experience that UMCP is certainly not the most bike-friendly campus and DOTS should be applauded for taking steps to improve. 9 percent is still a dismal number but it is a step in the right direction.

Another contributor to RTCP says.

“I think you’re not casting your net wide enough,” said Councilman Robert Catlin (Dist. 2).

Preach on Brother Bob, preach on.

Extend the Paint Branch Trail North?

paint branch trailWe’ve heard the concept tossed around a couple of  times, but what would it actually take to bring this great trail north of its terminus behind Home Depot? Crossing under 12 lanes of beltway traffic doesn’t appear to be the biggest obstacle since there is already a substantial underpass in place for the stream. The real question is will there ever be enough of a political coalition together to convince the USDA’s BARC facility to give up the necessary right-of-way (in red on the map). Once the county bridges that gap and brings the trail to its property (in green) just to the north of BARC, where is there left to go and would it be worth the added environmental disturbance in the first place?

–> See full sized map (produce from PGatlas.com).

New Initiative Dedicated to Bicycle-Friendly College Park

A newly revitalized committee dedicated to bicycle issues could bring new attention to bikes on campus in College Park. After several years of inactivity, a newly hired graduate research assistant in UMD’s Department of Transportation is revitalizing the group. Gulsah Akar, an engineering graduate student, recently held a meeting for the group spelling out his goals.

The group hopes to:Bicycle Committee concept

  • Increase bicycle use
  • Increase bicycle safety (both riding and parking)
  • Increase bicycle awareness (introduce bike as a viable mode)
  • Create a sustainable bicycle program
  • Funding

For more information on the Bicycle Committee, contact Gulsah at gulsah at umd.edu.

This is a wonderful time for bicycle issues in College Park. When funding is found, the reconstruction of Route 1 will mean an improvement for cyclists. We hope some of that money will be earmarked for dedicated bike lanes on the entire corridor. Bike lanes will encourage alternative transportation and provide an amenity for current cyclists.

UMD cycling teamOther useful College Park cycling resources include the College Park Area Bicycle Coalition, the The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, UMD Cycling Club. Another useful contact is campus police officer John Brandt, who specializes in campus biking, who can be reached at jbrandt@umpd.umd.edu.

We have also heard about the possibility of an innovative new bike rental project that could come to our area – stay tuned.

Route 1 bike lanes?

The State Highway Administration’s (SHA) Route 1 reconstruction plan (post on it here) and the recently released draft study of our beloved roadway both call for striped bike lanes along the corridor. A five foot bike lane (each way) is being considered between the Beltway and Berwyn Rd. and a six foot lane is being considered between Berwyn Rd. and College Ave. Should the funding gods ever prioritize one segment (or all three segments) of the Route 1 reconstruction project, planners hope these bike lanes, in conjunction with reduced traffic speed (25 to 30 mph), consolidated driveways, and more mixed use projects, will bring more people out of their cars and onto bicycles. Given the huge bike culture in college towns like Davis, CA, Madison, WI, and Cambridge, MA it’s clearly hoped that Route 1 bike lanes will capitalize on the aptness of college students to ride bikes and create a more pedestrian friendly environment for College Park.

Obviously we encourage any movement towards pedestrian-friendliness in the city. That being said, we doubt strongly whether these bike lanes, like so many other bike lanes in the area, will be used to any considerable degree as they are currently proposed. Take for instance several “biker-friendly roadways” that are already in existence around campus. “Bike lanes” on these roads are nothing more than narrow, gravel-strewn, storm drain-ridden car shoulders which only the hardiest of bikers dare ride on. We aren’t willing to forfeit the potential for new bike lanes on Route 1 because we think (if done right) they could be a valueable addition to the area and could work well if connected well with the Paint Branch Trail (not far to the west) and the Trolley Trail (not far to the east).

SHA should consider further modifying their proposed bike lanes by adding color treatments (as picture above) rather than simply adding a narrow asphalt lane. Studies show that colored bike lanes increase awareness of bicycles, improve pedestrian safety, slow traffic, and avoid confusing lane convergences at intersections. Such bike lanes (colors vary across countries) have been used for years in the Netherlands (red), Denmark (blue), and France (green). From what we can gather, such lanes are technically not allowed (on any road!) in the U.S. by the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, but College Park could conceivably apply to the FHWA via the MD-SHA for “permission to experiment” with them as has been done in cities like Arlington, Denver, and Portland, OR among several others.

It seems that street seperated bike lanes like the one below (in Silver Spring) are not being considered at all for Route 1. Probably because the on-street bike lane can be used by emergency vehicles whereas off-street ones can’t.
Seperated Bike Lane

Bike Advocacy Workshop Wednesday

TrikeDo you bike in College Park? Have ideas about what could be done to make the city more bike-friendly? Local bike advocates will discuss that topic, as well as brainstorm ways to “get more people on their bikes and … encourage local governments to recognize that bikers need more lanes, more racks, and better protection laws” at a free, “no-commitment” bike activism workshop on campus this Wednesday.

The event will feature Dave Snyder from the group the Thunderhead Alliance, and is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday evening in the in the Outdoor Rec Center in the back of the Campus Recreation Center Building. The Thunderhead Alliance is a 127-organization large alliance of groups dedicated to “create, strengthen and unite state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations.” The event was organized by Eitan Freedenberg, a Maryland student and program assistant for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Eitan described the interest at his table during the First Look Fair as “phenomenal” in an email promoting the event.

In Prince George’s County, the Bicycle and Trails Advisory Group collaborates with a variety of County agencies on bicycle trails and routes, and this county website on the Anacostia Tributary Trail System contains on and off-road bike routes. What would you change to make the campus and city more bike friendly?