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Wicomico County Executive says NO to rail-to-trail project

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, over 20 interested citizens came out to express both their support and concerns over a proposed feasibility study to convert an existing, abandoned railway into a multi-use trail. The proposed 9.8 mile trail would connect Salisbury, Hebron, and Mardela Springs, and would provide a protected, off-street path for cyclists, runners, and walkers. 

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver proposed this feasibility study (among other projects) in his preliminary transportation priorities letter to MDOT, which requests support from the state for local projects. This same project had been also listed in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 priority letters penned by then-Executive Rick Pollitt.

Tuesday's public hearing was meant to give local citizens an opportunity to give feedback to Wicomico County Council on this project, so that the Council could decide on whether to endorse the project.

Unfortunately, this opportunity was taken away, by a last-minute decision by Executive Culver to remove this project from the letter.  In Tuesday's meeting, Executive Culver addressed those gathered, saying that, as long as he was County Executive, he would not support this project.

Mr. Culver's reversal is unfortunate and surprising.

Salisbury has recogized that making a community bike friendly improves the quality of life for its citizens.  This summer, Salisbury was awarded with the League of American Bicyclist's prestigious Bicycle Friendly Community award.  Eastern Shore communties, such as Cambridge, Delmar, and Fruitland, have expressed interest in following Salisbury's example. My hope is that Mr. Culver's lack of support for this rail-to-trail project does not indicate an overall desire to block all bike improvement projects for the citizens of Wicomico County. 

See you on the road,

Matt

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City Council approves bike lanes for Fitzwater Street!

At its July 13, 2015 legislative meeting, the Salisbury City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance allowing bike lanes on Fitzwater Street.  This ordinance permits city engineers to now begin work to design improvements to make it easier to bike from Nanticoke Road to Downtown Salisbury on Parsons Road, Fitzwater Street, and West Main Street.  This proposed bike route will connect west-side residents to the bike improvements that will be constructed as part of Salisbury's Main Street Masterplan.  Construction of the first phase of the Main Street project will begin this October.

in addition, the City has applied for a $40,000 grant from the Maryland Bikeways Program to pay for the cost of survey and engineering services for the Fitzwater route. The City hopes to recieve approval for this grant request by September.

See you on the road!

Matt

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Salisbury wins Bronze! We are now officially a Bicycle Friendly Community!

It is official!!

Salisbury, Maryland has been named the first Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) on Maryland's Eastern Shore!  We are  the 6th BFC in Maryland, joining fellow Bronze BFC recipients Baltimore, Frederick, Hagerstown, Rockville and Bethesda.  This award is a important milestone for our city on our journey to making our community easier to access by bike.  

Millennials and empty nesters alike frequently cite the ability to live and work in a bikeable community as a key criteria in selecting where they want to live.  This certification (and the national recognition that goes with it) will allow our community to attract and retain newcomers and make our community stronger.

Join us Thursday June 11 at 5:30 pm to celebrate this award.  Click here to learn more & RSVP for the award presentation.

Click here to download a copy of the League's BFC report card for Salisbury.

See you on the road!

Matt

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2015 Special Award Presentation

Bring your bike to the Government Office Building steps in Downtown Salisbury on Thursday June 11 at 5:30 pm.  

Nate Evans, Executive Director for Bike Maryland, will be in Salisbury to present a special award to our city leaders for their work in making Salisbury more bikeable.  I want to see as many local cyclists there as possible, so we can all show Nate how strong our local cycling community is!

Directly after the award presentation, we will be riding as a group (with Mayor Ireton and Council President Day) through the City Park, then returning downtown to Headquarters Live for refreshments and more bike fellowship.

Please RSVP so we can make sure to have enough refreshments for all!

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Friday (May 15) is Bike to Work Day in Salisbury!

Friday's weather is going to be gorgeous!!  There has never been a nicer day to ride your bike in Salisbury.

We want to see everyone who works in Salisbury (even if you live outside of town) to participate in Bike to Work Day.  Encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to do the same.

We will be christening the Red Route (Riverside Drive) on Friday.  Our ride departs from SU's Philosophy House at 7 am.  We will be heading thru Downtown Salisbury, with a stop at Rise Up Coffee for refreshments!

Our friends at Rise Up will be providing FREE COFFEE ALL DAY for all who ride in on a bike.  They especially like the BYOC riders (Bring your own container).  Bring your Kleen Kanteen in empty, and leave with a full one!

After work, ride your bike to 3rd Friday.  This month theme is WHEELS.  (I am not making this up).  Park you ride at our Bike Valet Service  (corner of Division and Main) and join us for a Pedal Thru the Park ride at 6.

See you on the Road!

Matt

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May is Bike Month!!

I am so happy to announce that we've made it to May, and May is National Bike Month!!

We have so many great events planned; May 9th is out 3rd CycloFemme Ride, May 11 through 15 is Bike to Work Week, and we have Bike Valet Service planned for 1st Saturday (May 2) and 3rd Friday (May 15).  For more information on all of these events, check out our event calendar.

I'm also excited to announce that the Pedal Thru the Park Ride has re-commenced for 2015.  The ride leaves at 6:00 PM every Thursday from Headquarters Live downtown.  This a great ride for cyclists of all level of experience.

I encourage everyone to download a copy of our Bike to Work Week poster, print it out, and post it in your work place.  We want to see everyone who works in Salisbury (even if you live outside of town) to participate in Bike to Work Day.  Encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to do the same.

 

See you on the Road!

 

Matt

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The Spring Bike Swap is on!

Monday's beautiful weather made my daily decision easy: of course I'm riding my bike to work today!

As temperatures get warmer and daylight increases, we are all thinking about how we can spend more time outside. What better way to feed this need and get around town by riding a bike!

This Saturday, April 11, we are holding our Spring Bike Swap. In the market for a new bike?  Have a bike or parts to sell? Browsing?  Come by!

The Swap starts at 9 am and ends at 11 am. Come early to Evo's parking lot for the best deals!

We are expecting that at least 50 bikes will be on display for you to test drive and buy.  West OC's Dutch and St. Michael's own Tri Cycle & Run will be bringing a huge selection of new and used bikes to choose from.

After the swap, stick around for a slow, group ride through open roads of downtown Salisbury.  The 6-mile ride begins at 11:30; show & go format.  Helmets are highly encouraged!

See you on the road,

Matt

 

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Close, but no cigar... Salisbury's East Main Street will have sharrows, not bike lanes

Well, fellow riders, we can't win them all.

I met this evening with the City's Public Works staff to discuss the proposed design for East Main Street with our elected members of the City Council, Mr. Jake Day, Mr. Jack Heath, and Mrs. Laura Mitchell.  Two members, Mr. Tim Spies and Ms. Shaney Shields, were not in attendence.

The focus of the discussion was whether the Council would recommend that bike lanes be added to the design.  The City engineers did a good job of presenting options that included bike lanes.  The design considered would provide a 10' wide vehicle lane, 5' wide bike lane, and 7' wide parking space.

I addressed Council and reminded them that bike lanes, not sharrows, have been proven to increase ridership on streets (see 2012 bike count study for Los Angeles ), and that the proposed design gives ample space for moving vehicles, bike, and parked cars alike.  I also reminded them that the design for this street will serve to be an example for future bike projects in Salisbury.

Council members Heath and Mitchell could not support the bike lane design, saying that the space allotted was "too tight".  In the end, their viewpoint prevailed.  Sharrows, not bike lanes, will be provided on East Main Street.

So here's what we're going to get on East Main Street:

65% design

 

In his closing comments, Council President Day reiterated his desire to support bike facilities in Salisbury by continuing to develop a Complete Streets Ordinance, implement the Phase 2 bike lane improvements, and develop a wayfaring sign system for Salisbury.

Despite this setback, I remain optimistic.  Earlier in February, we submitted a strong application to become a Bicycle Friendly Community with the League of American Cyclists.  We have an active Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  Bike-SBY has begin planning events and activities for this year that will promote and encourage biking as transportation.  And most of all, spring is just around the corner, so I can resume daily bike riding!

 

See you on the road,

Matt

 

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We can do better! Let's rethink the Main Street Master plan.

Since 2009, a plan has been proposed to re-work and upgrade the core transportation artery of our downtown; namely Main Street.  Dubbed the Main Street Master Plan, the design's goal is to help spur revitalization of our downtown.

As chairman of the City's Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee, I have had the privilege of working with caring citizens and City staff on this project, providing advice and feedback as the design plans are being formed.

This past week, the design consultants released design plans which are 65% complete, for review and comment by the public.  The purpose of this review is to make sure that the clients (in this case, the citizens of Salisbury) are getting the design that they want.  

If the clients like the design presented, then the engineers can continue to refine their work.  If the clients don't like the design, then the engineers need to take a step back and re-think the work that has already been completed.

I have reviewed the 65% design plans, and there is a glaring problem that needs to be corrected.  The current design for East Main Street does not provide dedicated bike lanes.

Here's what the City's current design for East Main Street looks like:

 

Sure, the engineers have provided sharrows, and that's a great start.  But a sharrow is simply a compromise; ok to incorporate into a re-striping plan when working around existing physical constraints.  In the case of East Main Street, the entire street profile (including sidewalks) is going to be removed and replaced.  This affords the opportunity to not compromise and do the job right.

Here's what I recommend for East Main Street: dedicated bike lanes that still provide adequate space for vehicles, parking, sidewalk, and landscaping.

 

 

The layout that I recommend provides dedicated space for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles alike, and meets the goals of the City's own Complete Streets resolution #2431.

Our City leaders have been clear; they support making the redevelopment of Main Street the best it can be.  I call on our leaders to take this opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to this design NOW, before we head down a wrong path with this important project.  

See you on the road,

Matt

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Our New Year's resolution for 2015: Build on the success of 2014

Happy New Year!!

It is certainly a great time to live, work, play (and of course BIKE) in Salisbury! 2014 saw Salisbury form its first Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee, adopt its first Complete Streets Policy, and receive a $50,000 grant from the Maryland Bikeways Program to develop a bike way-finding system in Salisbury.  These accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of our Mayor, Jim Ireton, and our City Council lead by President Jake Day.

We saw an increase in 2014 in bike riders on our city streets, and programs like Joshua Hale's Pedal Thru the Park deserve credit for this development.  Our Spring and Fall Bike Swaps, and Bike-to-Work Week events continue to draw more and more people who want to be Salisbury become a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Our newly-formed Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee has provide important feedback to the City's designers on its Main Street Master Plan, and has overseen the planned improvements for upgraded bike lanes on Riverside Drive and South Boulevard.  The committee also looks forward to developing bike lanes on Eastern Shore Drive via the road diet approach.

These accomplishments would not have been possible if not for the work of our volunteers.  

For the new year, I want to see us build on these accomplishments.

Our Bike Valet Service was unveiled during Third Friday events this fall, and was a great success.  In 2015, I hope to see this grow to become a part of the 1st Saturday events, as well as at concerts at Headquarters Live.

Our Bicycle Friendly Merchant program (began in 2013) has over 14 business participating.  I would like to see this number double (or triple) in 2015.

We now have a certified League Cycling Instructor (yours truly!) available to teach classes here in Salisbury.  In 2015, I want to see us host more educational opportunities to help teach children and adults how to ride safely.

Our local network of bike lanes has grown since 2012 and we have plans to put more lanes in place in 2015.  Bike counts are vital to demonstrate how many people ride each day and where future bike lanes need to be installed.  In 2015, we will need to begin collecting this important data.

I am reminded of an adage: "Many hands make light work".  As you reflect and plan your personal goals for 2015, I ask that you consider helping build on our 2014 accomplishments by becoming a volunteer for Bike-SBY.

Please click here to sign up as a 2015 volunteer.

Thanks for your consideration!

See you on the road,
Matt

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