SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — City officials and local advocates are pursuing a state grant that will kick-start efforts to make Salisbury a bicycle-friendly community.
Teresa Gardner, director of Public Works, submitted an application to the Maryland Bikeways Program earlier this month for $13,750 in funding for a minor retrofit project, which consists of striping designated bike lanes where road width permits, applying shared lane bike symbols where road width is constrained and installing permanent marker signs on the roadside as well as bike boxes at select traffic signals.
“By law, the bicyclists have the right to be on the road. They’re already out there,” Gardner said. “What this is doing is trying to secure a safer route for them to ride in that alerts the motorists to the bicyclists.”
This is the first phase in what involved parties hope will be many, as an intricate network of bicycle lanes and paths — as well as programs and accompanying accoutrements like bike racks — has been mapped out by Bike-Sby, a local advocacy group.
The total project cost is $25,000. The city will provide a $5,000 match in the form of in-kind services, with an additional $2,500 from Salisbury University, $2,500 from the Sea Gull Century Foundation and $1,250 from donations made to Bike-SBY.
Matt Drew, a local engineer and founder of Bike-SBY, said there was an opportunity to request full state funding for the project, “but from a philosophical standpoint, when compared to other grant requests, I didn’t feel we’d have as good a case to ask for funding if there’s not some level of local participation. It’s important to have that family of funds.”
Gardner said the city should know whether its application is approved within the next month or so. If the application is approved, the city hopes to complete the work in tandem with road construction that is already scheduled. For example, the city plans to repave a portion of Camden Avenue, which is situated along the bicycle route. Mayor Jim Ireton said the practice of incorporating this work into paving projects could become commonplace so that “bike paths are just something we do naturally.”
According to Drew, the proposed route for this initial phase focuses on six major destinations: Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Salisbury University, and Pinehurst Elementary, Prince Street Elementary, Bennett Middle and James M. Bennett High schools. When connected, these major destinations form a ring, Drew said. The residents inside that ring frequently travel to these major destinations, which creates a network conducive to bike travel.
This project, Drew said, is a very small component in becoming a bicycle-friendly community.
“We need to have law enforcement involved, have the school system involved, and we need folks who will maintain the roadways,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that are going to need to be involved if we really want to make this a cultural aspect of our community.”
Bike-SBY is hosting a community workshop June 6 at SU, during which they will gather public input and talk with representatives from Bike Maryland and the League of American Bicyclists. Randy McClement, mayor of Frederick, Md., will also attend. Frederick, which is similar in size and population to Salisbury, was recently designated a bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)