Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 17, 2014

Frederick St. bike lane plan continues to draw criticism

Del. Kelly questioning logic of proposal

— CUMBERLAND — Del. Kevin Kelly has taken a public stance against a proposed city plan to add a bike lane on Frederick Street after hearing the concerns of several residents in the neighborhood.

“I’ve had a number of constituents call me who are very much opposed to it,” said Kelly on Thursday.

Growing up on Bedford Street and still residing in the vicinity, Kelly said he is uniquely qualified to understand the concerns of neighbors in the area.

Kelly said he favors “Share the Road” signs to accommodate bicyclists and let the police department take care of the excess speeding by motorists. To voice his concerns, Kelly has sent emails to Mayor Brian Grim questioning the logic of the proposed bike lane.

Residents in the Frederick Street area have been complaining for years about excessive speeding on the street. With a speed limit of 25 mph, Frederick Street expands from one lane to two lanes after it passes Victoria Street.

When city officials received a $75,000 grant from the Maryland Bikeways Program in late 2013, a plan was developed to add bicycle lanes on both Frederick and Bedford streets. A public meeting was scheduled in February to discuss the proposal with neighbors.

Many residents from the area opposed the bike lane on Bedford Street and also expressed their opposition to the plan’s idea of adding the Frederick Street bike lane on the right and moving vehicle parking to the left side.

City engineer John DiFonzo, one of the hosts of the public meeting, was swayed by the residents’ concerns and city officials revised the plan. A new proposal does away with the bike lane on Bedford Street in favor of “Share the Road” signs. The revised plan calls for parking to remain on the right side of Frederick Street with the 5- to 7-foot bike lane being created alongside the vehicle parking lane. Frederick Street would subsequently be reduced from two lanes to one.

“Frederick Street is one of the nicest streets in the city to drive on,” said Kelly.

Kelly feels that any ideas to use the bike lane as a method to slow traffic should not be a factor in the decision.

To drive his point home, Kelly contacted Eric Tabacek and Robert Herstein with the State Highway Administration to verify if the state has ever allowed bike lanes to be used to combat speeding.

Herstein, a transportation specialist at the SHA, replied to Kelly’s request and affirmed that bike lanes are never to be used to control speeding.

Grim was contacted by the Times-News for his view.

“It is not our intention to use the bike lane to slow cars. It’s a realistic, positive spin-off as a result of a bike lane existing there,” said Grim.

Kelly also sees problems with parked cars opening doors and colliding with bicyclists. He also sees increased traffic, especially when school buses are accessing the road, as a problem. Vehicles could no longer pass school buses using the left lane after the buses have discharged the children and are no longer displaying their stop signs.

Kelly also said that establishing a bike lane forbids motorists from driving in the lane unless it is an emergency.

Herstein affirmed that vehicles are not permitted to travel in bike lanes unless in an emergency situation.

Grim has taken issue with Kelly’s assessment of the proposed bike lane project. He replied to Kelly’s emails.

“The city is already engaging in the process of listening to citizen input and implementing that input in the form of changes to the initial plan,” Grim said.

The city has scheduled another public meeting on the proposed bike lane at the Cornerstone Baptist Church, 930 Frederick St., on Aug. 21 at 5 p.m.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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