Cumberland Times-News

March 17, 2014

City’s efforts on behalf of local and visiting cyclists appreciated

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— I would like to thank the Mayor and City Council and applaud their support of some very basic and important issues facing Cumberland and Western Maryland.

Your support of economic development, community health and youth safety are demonstrated well in your planned development of the Bedford and Frederick streets corridor.

Economic growth in our area has been challenging to say the least. There is one area that has shown strong and continued growth — cycling and cycling tourism.

Per the Maryland Department of Planning in 2013, 70,000 plus users of the Great Allegheny Passage in Allegany County spent more than $2.25 million in our area, with over 75 percent of that being OPM (Other People’s Money).

Local bike shops, restaurants and overnight accommodations have seen steady increases in sales directly related to these cyclists. Tourism, as viewed through hotel-motel taxes for Allegany County, has seen among the highest growth in the state.

The Bedford and Frederick streets corridor is part of three major cross-county cycling routes that bring hundreds of cyclists through our area each year.

Most of the cyclists spend the night in our fair city, have dinner and leave some money behind. The out-of-town cyclists I have been with on rides love downtown Cumberland and the very friendly clean atmosphere.

Improving the health of our community is a major benefit of cycling.

The local bike club, the Western Maryland Wheelmen, have seen participation grow from 15 in 2002 to over 250 members on our blog site.

I know of at least six members who have lost over 50 pounds from riding. The health benefits of safe cycling have been well documented. These bike lanes and other projects will help promote this very important part of our lifestyle.

Providing bike lanes through the Bedford and Frederick streets corridor for our kids to have a safe lane to ride will help start them on a path of healthy living.

Thank you for having the city staff work on finding ways to improve our city with increased safe bike access. Please continue to help them make these important improvements to Cumberland.

Larry J. Brock, cyclist