All work and no play makes Bill a slow bicyclist. Well, it is Winter. Working twelve-hour days is beginning to get old.
What, you may ask, is happening in Frederick? With the assistance of the Ad-Hoc Bicycle Committee and the wonderful and talented planning staff, and the Mayor and Board of Alderman (or is it “Aldermen” or “Alderpersons”?), many exciting events and projects are underway (or will be soon).
When the committee was formed, one of its purposes was to encourage and supply ideas to the city regarding what kinds of road treatments and accommodations could be made to promote bicycle access in Frederick – and do so cost-effectively in order to get the largest bang for the buck.
Last year bike lanes were installed on a slice of 7th Street, between Heather Ridge Drive and Fort Detrick at Miltary Rd. Some asked, “why such a small section of bike lane?” What we have here is a beginning – one has to start somewhere. 7th Street was chosen as a good pilot area because of its proximity to stores, post office, hospital, and its commuting potential for Fort Detrick. It also lent itself well to bike lanes, as there was little parking and the road is wide. I will note that there have been some issues eastbound, as motorists departing the Fort have used the parking lane, which is situated to the right of the bicycle lane, as a through lane. Not only is this dangerous, but it is illegal. I hope that future signage can alleviate the issue. Recently “sharrows” were installed on 7th Street on the roadway from US15 to East St. Sharrows signify a shared-use lane. This reminds motorists that bicyclists are likely to be present and that the lane may be taken by a bicyclist because its width is insufficient for a motor vehicle and bicycle to occupy simultaneously.
Other items being planned or considered include (1) bike lanes for a portion of East St, (2) a bicycle path alongside same where the railroad tracks currently exist, (3) a “pump track” for off-road bicycles, (4) a suitable bike path undercrossing of US15 near Rosemont Avenue, (5) signage to connect the various off-street paths currently existing in the city, as well as a few others. You may have already toured the eight-mile “History Loop” that departs from the Tourism Center on East St. If not, plan on it this Spring when the weather warms.
In addition to better accommodating bicyclists, one of the main benefits to Frederick of these kinds of programs is the tourism component. As conditions improve it is expected that bicyclists will visit, tour the city and county, visit the battlefields and watershed, spend the weekends in our hotels and bed and breakfasts and eat in our restaurants. The tourism component is highly prized. Other areas of the country have benefited greatly from bicycle tourism, such as Bedford County, PA and Hancock, MD.
Events coming this year include the Fourth Annual Tour de Frederick (our only legitimate Tour de France champion, Greg LeMond, attended in 2012), the second Clustered Spires High Wheel Race (last August the historic district was packed with onlookers observing this race on Penny Farthing bicycles) and the National Grand Fondo Championship in the Fall.
Keep warm – it is mighty chilly out there as I write. This is a good time to take your bicycle to one of our several local bike shops for a tuneup. Shop employees are lonely in January and February and would love to see you. Plus, they've more time to attend to your bike and give it the tender loving care it so deserves.