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Towson Spokes Plan Not Enough To Encourage Safe Biking

By - July 13, 2015

Read Here: the Baltimore County Letter to Bike Maryland and Bikemore RE: the Towson Spokes

Bike Maryland and Bikemore encourage the development of quality bike lanes which enable more people to bike for short distances and improve the overall quality of life of communities. The proposed Towson Spokes Bike Plan does not improve safety nor encourage more people to try bicycling.

Last year, Baltimore County created the initial Towson Bike Loop, which ringed central Towson with some bike lanes and “Share The Road” signs. While some sections experienced minor improvements with bike lanes, people on bikes were still traveling next to three motor vehicle lanes of traffic with speeds in excess of 35 mph with debris and potholes inside the bike lane. These conditions do little to improve the perception of safety and fall short of encouraging less experienced people to use these lanes for biking.

The Towson Spokes Plan continues this dangerous design. People on bikes are advised to “Share The Road” and many times “Share The Lane” with higher speed traffic on Kenilworth Avenue, Putty Hill Avenue and Cromwell Bridge Road. Bike Maryland and Bikemore cannot support any “bicycle project” that endangers lives just to stay under budget. With proper planning, traffic analysis and the application of road diets and other Complete Streets aspects, the Towson Spokes plan can become a meaningful community improvement.

High quality bicycle infrastructure, such as protected or buffered bike lanes, has benefits that are shared by everyone on the road. After New York City installed protected bike lanes, injury-causing collisions for drivers, walkers, and bicyclists fell by an average of 40%. Everyone benefits when speeds decrease and bicyclists, walkers, and joggers are protected by more than six inches of paint.

Too often advocates have heard county staff state that Baltimore County will plan for automobile traffic instead of pedestrian, bicycle or transit modes. With this policy in place, Baltimore County stands to lose residents and businesses to surrounding Maryland counties that are planning for active residents walking and using bicycles to complete short trips.

Before moving forward with the Towson Spokes Plan, Bike Maryland and Bikemore encourage Baltimore County to redesign the Towson Loop and Towson Spokes Plan. With its high density development, adjacent college campus and nearby residential areas, Towson can quickly become a model bikeable community for the county and state. We encourage Baltimore County to make the investment in biking which will benefit Towson residents, businesses and students for years come. Both Bike Maryland and Bikemore are ready to assist county staff to create a Towson bike network that’s safe for everyone.

Join us at the Towson Library on Thursday, July 16 at 7 pm for the Towson Spokes Plan Community Meeting.  Let county representatives know that this design does not go far enough to create a more bikeable Towson.

To improve travel conditions with the Towson Spokes Plan, Bike Maryland and Bikemore recommend the following:

  • With private off-street parking available to residents, evaluate parking consolidation on Kenilworth Road between West Road and Charles Street and Cromwell Bridge Road between Providence Road and Cowpens Road
  • Remove the center turn lane on Kenilworth Road between West Road and Bosley Avenue and replace with bike lanes in each direction
  • Extend bike lanes on Putty Hill Avenue from Loch Raven Boulevard to Goucher Boulevard.  Intersections are typically the most dangerous areas for all roadway users.  Adding bike lanes to these areas will improve safety for all.
  • Transform outer motor vehicle travel lane to buffer for bike lane on Bosley Avenue from Kenilworth to Towsontowne Boulevard, which still provides for two motor vehicle travel lanes and left turn lanes.  Bosley Avenue will need to be resurfaced after the water main replacement which provides an opportunity for a buffered bike lane.
  • Remove all Bike Routes signs where bike lanes do not exist.as these provide a false sense of comfort for novice cyclists.
  • Transform a motor vehicle lane into a bike lane on both Pennsylvania Avenue and Chesapeake Avenue making central Towson more accessible by bike.
  • Transform a motor vehicle lane into a bike lane on Fairmount Avenue from Towson Towne Blvd to Goucher Boulevard.  A bicycle lane is essential on southbound Fairmount between Goucher Blvd and Joppa Road for people on bikes to climb this steep section.