Frederick: A Bicycle-Friendly Community

by William Smith. 0 Comments

In 2010, Frederick mayor Randy McClement, with the assistance of city planner Tim Davis and the newly-created Frederick Bicycle Coalition, formed what was then termed the “Mayor’s Ad-hoc Bicycle Committee”. Numerous people from the area were interviewed for positions on the committee, which was to be composed of people who lived in the city or owned businesses here and were interested and/or possessed knowledge of bicycling. Its first goal was to obtain “Bicycle-Friendly Community” (BFC) status as granted by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).

LAB grants this status based upon the assessment of several criteria, many of which are encapsulated in “The Five E’s”. These are Engineering (creating safe places to ride and park), Education (educating the public, helping give people the abilities, skills and confidence to ride), Encouragement (creating a bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling), Enforcement (ensuring safe roads for all users) and Evaluation and Planning (for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option). I’ll address the Five E’s in a future blog. There are four levels of BFC status: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. A community in its first application, if successful, will likely achieve the bronze level.

The first task of the committee was to apply for the Bicycle-Friendly Community status from LAB. Plans were drawn and work began. Thanks to the support of the city Board of Aldermen (and especially liaison Kelly Russell), Mayor McClement, planner Tim Davis, and the volunteers on the committee, the following objectives were reached and were cited in our application.

Volunteer George Ruszat, who incorporated an idea from longtime Frederick Pedalers member Dan Lufkin, was the major force behind the creation of History Loop Ride. This is an eight-mile route through the city that visits numerous historic places, such as Mt. Olivet Cemetery and the Barbara Fritchie house. One can find a brochure and directions for this ride at the Visitors’ Center and most bicycle shops. It also won an award from the Maryland Municipal League this year. The construction of a pilot program of bicycle lanes and sharrows (shared road markings) on 7th Street between Ft. Detrick and East St. With the assistance of grant money and the Frederick Bicycle Coalition, bicycle racks have been placed in numerous locations in the center of town. Planning and assistance with the annual Bike To Work Day every May. The planning and building of a “pump track”, which is a small structure, made of hard-packed dirt, where cyclists on BMX-type bikes can ride around a track without stopping, by taking advantage of momentum to pedal as little as possible. This will be performed by volunteers at no cost to the city. Planning and design of a Rails-With-Trails project along East Street, along with bicycle lanes and shared road markings, from the MARC station to Worman’s Mill, in a public-private partnership. Three large events also have taken place in Frederick; the committee itself was not necessarily involved, but its members assisted with various duties. They are the High Wheel Race (old-style Penny Farthing bicycles – the only one of its kind in the entire United States), the three-day Tour de Frederick (created by Neil Sandler of Spokes Magazine fame and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Frederick County) and the Grand Fondo National Championship. Plans for educational events/classes for bicyclists.

Our application was well-received and, in 2012, the city of Frederick became a bronze-level recipient of the LAB’s Bicycle-Friendly Community award. Next on the horizon is Silver status.

The committee was formalized in the spring of this year and renamed from the “Mayor’s Ad-Hoc Bicycle Committee” to its current name. In addition, new members were added and pedestrian issues were incorporated into its focus.

You can find the committee on the Internet at these links. Meetings are generally held on the first Tuesday of each month.

Frederick Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee on city web site:

http://www.cityoffrederick.com/index.aspx?nid=695

Frederick Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frederick-Bicycle-Pedestrian-Advisory-Committee/146686215379530?fref=ts

Others:

Frederick Bicycle Coalition: http://frederickbicyclecoalition.com/

League of American Bicyclists (LAB): http://www.bikeleague.org/

Frederick Pedalers Bicycle Club: http://www.frederickpedalers.org

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