Cumberland Times-News


March 4, 2014

There must be better ways to promote cycling

It is a very rare event for me to agree with any politician irrespective of their party. And here I find myself agreeing with Delegate Kevin Kelly (“Plan to establish bike lanes is both absurd and dangerous,” Feb. 27 Times-News).

I too live off of Bedford Road and make that same daily commute in my normal routine.

I am an avid cyclist; I ride the Great Allegany Passage trail. When I first began riding again I rode on Bedford Road, the side streets and country roads in that area. But then I found the GAP Trail.

I try to ride every day during the summer, weather permitting. It is great exercise and an outstanding stress-reliever. My bike is always locked on the back of my car during the summer.

When I first heard that bike lanes were being considered for Bedford and Frederick Streets I was dumbfounded.  I could not believe that anyone would propose such a stupid and dangerous idea. From my point of view, as a cyclist, these bike lanes here will cause accidents and sadly fatalities.

Allow me, if you will, to propose a scenario; you are riding in a bike lane as a car comes up behind you. The driver is blowing his horn and you can tell from the sound the car, it sounds almost like a whistle, that this car is speeding up behind you.

But the terrain to your right rises steeply. If you were to try to climb up that hill you will fall. Just maybe you could fall under the car’s wheels.

What do you to avoid being hit by this car? There is nothing that you can do as you are channelized by the road and the terrain. You have nowhere to go. Well, congratulations. That is most of Bedford Street.

As you get closer to Henderson Avenue you have another problem High Bedford Street and its retaining wall. In that area you either kiss the wall or get hit by that car. That is the problem I ran into while riding on Bedford Road.  But the key terrain feature there was a deep ditch.

Just as drivers do, cyclists ride defensively. I always look for that avenue of escape I can take in the event I need to avoid a wreck when I ride. Riding on Frederick Street is not much better than riding on Bedford Street. It is flatter but you are still channelized by the curbs and sidewalks. Nope, you won’t see me riding there.

I enjoy riding in the summer; it is an escape for me to take that few hours and breathe some fresh air, hear the song birds, and spot wildlife. So the question is what do we do to promote cycling in our area?

In my humble opinion bike lanes, on Bedford and Frederick Streets, are a non-starter and a waste of scarce resources. Chances are they won’t even be used.

The only signs on I-68 East or West that even mentions the GAP trail is in Frostburg. The trailheads for the GAP and Canal Towpaths are just feet away from each other at Canal Place. We do have a bicycle symbol on some signage on I-68 in town.  

Here we are trying to build a tourism based economy and we do not even use the bike trails as the hooks that they should be. Bicyclists like to ride on new trails in their travels. They won’t know about the GAP and Towpath unless we make them aware of what we have.

Yes, the Internet is a great marketing tool, but it is useless unless you set the hook and spur a cyclist’s imagination!

Jeff Robinette



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