Jul 28, 2014

County Plans Bike 'Beltway' Around Central Towson

The first phase of the project could be completed by spring 2013.

County Plans Bike 'Beltway' Around Central Towson

Call it the inner-inner loop.

A committee of local bicyclists has submitted a plan for Towson's own "bike beltway," to be created by adding bike lanes to some county roads in central Towson, County Councilman David Marks announced Monday.

"My goal was to make Towson as bike- and pedestrian friendly as possible and these are some really simple improvements we can make to reach that goal," Marks said.

The 4.2-mile route would loop past county government buildings, shopping centers, schools and colleges. Potential extensions could add spurs into the Towson roundabout and extend to the , , and North Baltimore.

The new route was recommended by the 5th District Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, which was created by Marks last June. The group has met every other month since then.

"There's not very many roads in Towson right now that are particularly bike friendly and by restriping those roads and improving bike lanes I am very confident that would make a huge difference in how comfortable a bike would feel on those roads if there was a little bit of extra dedicated space," said Stu Sirota, a Rodgers Forge resident and the committee's co-chair.

The route will include new bike lanes on existing Towson streets. Where a new lane isn't possible in some stretches, crews will add "Share the Road" signs to alert drivers. The $120,000 in costs for the project are expected to be covered with a $100,000 state grant, which the county applied for on Friday. An additional $20,000 would be added in matching county capital funds.

"We have our fingers crossed that we're going to get it," Sirota said.

The idea for much of the route started with the county department of public works, Sirota said. The department envisioned a pilot route connecting and . That grew into a loop that ran through downtown Towson and past several communities.

According to the grant application, public input meetings, mapping and identification of the bike routes are expected to take place this summer. The sign approval in the fall and installation of the new bike lanes could occur as early next spring.

Marks noted, however, that funding and other delays are possible. It may be a while before many of the dotted lines on the project's map (pictured) become reality, he said.

"We are going to do as much of this as possible this year," Marks said, adding that the county could work bike lanes into future repaving work.

Marks said he has spoken with the about the bike route plans, but there was no time to engage community groups ahead of the May 4 state grant application deadline. That will happen in the next several weeks, he said.

"We wanted to get the application in as soon as possible," he said.

Sirota said he hopes the new plans "set a new tone and would really start to encourage many people who are thinking about biking."

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