In our recent membership survey, Biking Infrastructure (trails, on-road bike lanes) came up as both the top area of interest for advocacy and information and also the top way that BikeAAA Members would like to get more involved. We were not surprised to hear this but do take it as a call to action to make it easier for you to get involved in ways that accelerate the build out of a safe, accessible bike network.
Typical Bike Infrastructure Development Process
Bike infrastructure is planned, designed and built by a variety of agencies at the City of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and State of Maryland. Funding comes through a mix operating and capital budgets at these agencies supplemented by grants from both state and federal programs. New infrastructure projects generally go through a long process consisting of
- PLAN – Inclusion in transportation, land use, recreation and other plans
- STUDY – Feasibility studies that assess route locations, right of way, safety, demand, cost and other factors
- DESIGN -Detailed engineering designs that form the basis for actual construction
- CONSTRUCTION – The actual build out
- MAINTENANCE – Trail maintenance, trimming, resurfacing and bike lane restriping, remarking
Some projects like bike lane markings within existing shoulders or within existing pavement width can be completed fairly quickly during regular road repaving. Paved trails can take years or even decades to complete, especially if they are of any significant length, require right of way acquisition and/or have challenging crossings. Since the launch of the Anne Arundel County Bicycle Advisory Commission in 2016, we have gone from about 15 bike lanes to 42 bike lanes and about 10 miles of new paved trail have been completed. Even more is in the pipeline. Get acquainted with our vision for the Anne Arundel County Trail Network to see a specific set of trails that create a loop around the northern part of the county.
Your voice makes a big difference at every stage of the process and we encourage you to engage in public input countywide and especially in the areas in which you live, ride and would like to ride. The best way to stay abreast of these opportunities are:
- BikeAAA Facebook Group – We and our members regularly post opportunities for public input. If you are not already in, please click: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bikeaaa
- BikeAAA Email List – We also provide notifications for public input through our email distribution. If you are not receiving BikeAAA email, give us your name, email address and zip code at https://bikeaaa.org/contact-us/
- Anne Arundel County Notifications – Check the county website periodically for notices of Budget, Planning, Development and other notices. In some cases you can signup to receive periodic updates for specific projects.
- City of Annapolis – Check the City of Annapolis website and sign up for alerts on projects of interest
There are plans and projects underway where your input can make a difference! We encourage you to get involved, even if it is just to provide email input in support of safe biking and walking infrastructure.
- County Budget Online Town Halls – Sign up for your district meeting in January and speak up for more trails, bike lanes and maintenance as the network expands.
- Land, Parks, Preservation & Recreation Plan – This 5 year plan update needs more emphasis on trails and their importance for recreation, connecting with nature and ACTIVE TRANSPORATION.
- Regional Area Plans – There are nine regional planning areas in the county and 3 of them (West County, Broadneck Peninsula and Greater Annapolis) are launching planning groups right now. Meetings are open to the public. Find your region and get engaged.
- Parole Town Center Master Plan Draft – The area around Town Center, Annapolis Mall and AAMC is in dire need of safe bike/walk routes. Check out the envisioned bike route map and provide your input. Sign up for the public online forum on Jan 19 at 6pm.
- Odenton Town Center Master Plan – The Advisory Commission meets monthly and while there is a good plan for bike/walk routes, it is slow to implement.
- BWI to Baltimore Trail Connection – Design is underway to connect the BWI Trail to Baltimore’s Gwynn Falls Trail. This short survey on trail route is open through Jan. 7.
- County Development Meetings – Many of these are small one lot developments but others are larger commercial or residential developments that can open opportunities for adding sidewalks, trails, crossings or bike lanes. Watch for development in your area.
- City of Annapolis Plans & Studies – City residents watch for plans, studies and development reviews to assure a focus on safe bike/walk routes.
We again encourage you to join our Facebook Group to stay apprised of public engagement opportunities as they arise. Two very important initiatives that are underway and will be open for public engagement in the coming months are the county’s first Vision Zero plan which will strive to eliminate traffic fatalities, especially for people on foot or bike and an updated Pedestrian /Bicycle Master Plan which will cover the entire county. Watch for updates on these and other initiatives.
How Best to Participate
In general, the opportunities outlined above are looking for people who understand the local context and have experience navigating these areas regularly on foot or bike, either for recreation or transportation. Your input can usually be provided via email, survey or through a website after reviewing an online document or presentation. In some cases there will be a virtual or in-person meeting where you may have an opportunity to speak or provide comments or questions via a chat. Your input can range from very detailed route comments based on your local knowledge to broader comments that simply emphasize the importance of safe biking and walking to reduce vehicle traffic, protect our environment, improve health and provide more equitable transportation choices. Get involved in advocacy, your voice makes a difference!