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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Proposed Bicycle Lanes Frederick Street Today we have proposed bicycle lanes and a shared roadway / Bedford Street Cumberland, Maryland


Here is my own opinion followed with facts on the proposed bicycle lanes for Frederick and Bedford Street here at my home in Cumberland, Maryland.

Maryland has a large forte in being a "bicycle friendly" state.

As a child I adored, and still do, bicycles. I worked in many shops in Northern Virginia while attending college in my early adult life. These experiences are an important part of my life and I hope to share with you not just some of these experiences, but also how an area grows through construction and development after candid discussion and planning of a single bicycle trail, which eventually becomes a part of a network of trails.

I grew up on Alyce Place in Alexandria, Virginia. At the end of my cul-de-sac rests West Boulevard Drive, which served as the Mount Vernon Bicycle Trail in the beginning while the details were worked out and the funding secured for what would become the paving of the permanent trail near by.

As a child I had many, and I mean many, lemonade stands growing up, and these experiences selling lemonade, watching the trails evolution, and sharing the trail with others, was a wonderful experience that has stayed with me all of my life and indeed has many lessons today that may now be further unfolding in my newer permanent home of Cumberland, Maryland.

The historic C and O Canal has a terminus here in Cumberland, as well as in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., only a few miles from the trail now known as The Mount Vernon Trail. The first bicycle shop I worked in was "Tow Path Cycles" (a.k.a. Alexandria Bicycles) and was in existence well past thirty (30) years.

The owner of this shop was a mentor to me growing up from the age of five (5) onward, as I had a deep fascination with bicycles and an uncanny ability mechanically from an extremely early age. He, in fact, told my Mother when I was about 8 that once I was ready to work, send him to me and he has a job for sure. I worked for him many years later, for several years, managed his shop, and was returning to his shop to manage it once again just before his untimely death, which is a tragic story for another day that has honestly effected me to this day still.

His original shop was indeed in Georgetown right next to the C and O Canal. He opened a second shop closer to his own home in Alexandria at Hollin Hall Shopping Center and then eventually right in the heart of historic Olde Towne Alexandria, Virginia, which became the sole shop towards this end of his very prestigious career in the industry.

Mr. Clarence Grubic, "Clay", was a founding member of the largest touring club in the nation (at least at the time when I worked for him and perhaps still today) Potomac Pedalers (  ), and was also instrumental in the inception of the Mount Vernon Trail, which linked Washington D.C. from the C and O Canal to George Washington's home's front door at Mount Vernon and is certainly one of the most heavily utilized trails in the world today by recreational riders. What I personally find is a shame is that this man has not received recognition he certainly deserves still to this day.

This quote from the link above further crystallizes his great importance to this industry,

"In October 1966, Clay Grubic, who owned Tow Path Cycles, and approximately a dozen other cyclists got together to form a recreational bicycling club, called Potomac Pedalers Touring Club. Monthly meetings were held at Tow Path Cycles, which was then located on M Street in Georgetown, and the 2 monthly rides started from that shop. The members owned single speed or 3-speed bikes, and the rides rarely went over 35 miles for that season. It was rare to see a 10-speed bike and if you felt a driving desire to own one, you had to order it and wait about 8 weeks for it to come in.
A lot of the groundwork for bike paths in this area was laid by Potomac Pedalers under the direction of Clay Grubic.
The goal of the club was to reach a membership of 200 people. They had no idea how big it would become." 

I also worked for Mel Pinto ( ), also equally instrumental in establishing this industry in Washington D.C. and taking it to another level, at Bicycle Pro Shop on M Street in Georgetown, Washington D.C. and was a mechanic there, as well as The Bicycle Exchange and performance Bicycle too. Mel was much more hands off in the daily operations of the bicycle shop in comparison to Clay and I never got to know him as thoroughly as I did Clay for that very reason, but I have always respected and admired his accomplishments equally to those of Mr. Grubic. I cannot say enough about either of these two fine men or what the did for the entire bicycling industry in Washington D.C. and even as far to say as the entire United States.

In all the shops I worked, I found no men as dedicated to their sport as the two men I speak so highly of herein.

In total I worked over a ten year span in this industry at every level, be it as a mechanic, a salesman, and a manager. I feel 100% certain I am an authority in this industry with my experience and reputation as well as having been trained by and worked for the two greatest and most admired shop owners in the region. In fact, when Mel interviewed me it started off like any interview until he saw that I had worked for Clay for many years, at which point he abruptly stopped and said, "You worked for Mr. Grubic?", at which I answered, "Yes sir." and he instantly said you are hired...end of the interview.

They were interesting men and excellent businessmen. I was the person who actually was the catalyst for the two to finally get to know one another, after all, in this competitive industry, it was actually not the norm to be pals with your adversary. I told them each, as I stayed in contact with Mr. Grubic on a very regular basis, that the two of you men are so like one another. The defining difference is simple, as Mr. Grubic catered to the recreational cyclist, and Mr. Pinto the serious cyclist...those that liked to race ! The each carved their unique niche in the industry they both helped to mold.

I attended the Interbike International Bicycle Expo with Mr. Grubic several years in a row and met some of the finest folks in the international industry as well, and we spoke about every aspect of cycling, be it history, trends, sales, new products, design, ad infinitum.

Today, here in Cumberland, Maryland we have a proposed bicycle lane and share the road plan being hotly debated by local residents, both for and against the proposal. This link covers the proposal details with both pictures and specifics.

Let me be clear that this project is to be funded by a grant offered by a "Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways Grants" in the amount of $ 78, 515, as of 2014. This organization has funded many other bicycling projects across our great state as well.[Compatibility%20Mode].pdf

Also, before we get deeper into the debate of the pros and cons to this proposal, keep in mind that we are also a designated passageway for the bicycle "Race Across America", which is the preeminent bicycle race in the United States. I have personally witnessed the passage through our beautiful town and it was very exciting to share this with other residents as the leader came through town with vehicles close behind covering the race and then followed shortly thereafter by the "pack" as it is known in cycling.

Observe Page 54 from the link below, and you will see that this race utilizes this exact same route, and although this, a specific bicycling lane, may not be useful to a pack of racers, it outlines greatly the significance of this corridor for avid cyclists as an essential path followed often that must be properly marked and more safely addressed for vehicular traffic so that there is a greater recognition, appreciation, and respect for the cycling traffic that already exists regularly in this area as well as the increasing traffic that is certain to come with the future influx of tourists that enjoy cycling. Keep in mind that Allegany County is the fastest growing county in respects to tourism, and it should be very obvious to all that this will only continue to increase as it has recently. seen on page 54.

Race Across America 2015 TS 47 to TS 48
Oakland, MD to Cumberland, MD

A relatively easy section but with some pretty heavy local traffic. Support vehicles may wish to jump ahead using frequent Interstate highjway I-68 access points as it parallels Alternate US 40 (National Pike). ref mile turn elevation TS47 0.0 Northwest Continue on US 219 N. (The lake is on your right.) 2503 0.8 15.7 Cross Deep Creek Bridge. 3.0 13.5 McHenry. Marsh Run Cove on the left. 9.7 6.8 Accident 15.9 0.6 Jct I-68. Leave US 219 which follows I-68 E. Now on US 40 W but only for a half mile. 48A-R 16.5 RIGHT US 40 Alt E/ National Pike. (US 40 E follows I-68 E.) 2887 21.9 23.1 Grantsville. Jct S Yoder St/ SR 495 (to I-68). 25.2 19.8 Jct US 219/ Chestnut Ridge Rd (to I-68). 26.8 18.2 Meyersdale Rd. (to I-68). 32.5 12.5 Beall School Rd/ SR 546 (to I-68). 33.5 11.5 Commence descent to Cumberland. 2805 35.6 9.4 Frostburg. (Several I-68 access roads). 41.0 4.0 Cumberland. Jct SR 53. Continue straight on US 40 Alt E. 48B-BR 45.0 br RIGHT TL/T: Mt Savage Rd/SR 36 (under RR trestle). Stay on US 40 Alt E. 699 48C-L 46.1 LEFT TL/T: US 40 Alt E /Henderson Ave (after Gulf gas station). 644 48D-L 46.9

LEFT T: Frederick St, immediately after the overpass. Leave US 40 Alt. 643 47.1 2.1 SS: Decatur St. Traffic from left does not stop. Start gradual climbing. 48.9 0.1 Road becomes Bedford St.

Resume two way traffic. TS48 49.1 TS 48: yTL: Jct Bedford St and Naves Cross Rd. Sheetz gas station. (Route turn! ) 728 Note the RIGHT turn at mile 0.0 of the next section.



Furthermore, with concerns to growing tourism here in our city and making our city a more "bicycle friendly" area, and therefore realizing that we will host more bicyclists in the immediate future, what is more important? (not to discount our citizens at all) ... the concerns of individual citizens feeling hindered by a two lane road (Frederick Street) turning into one lane for automotive traffic, with provisions for wide areas (but not as wide as a standard lane...see pictures from link above)for safe left turns, and a road which is sufficient for traffic in an area currently marked 25 miles per hour... or the safety of bicyclists far too often, like motorcycles, overlooked by drivers of passenger style motor vehicles already further distracted today beyond regular travel concerns due to modern technology.

The reality is that there would be less speeding in these areas which homeowners should embrace as most of these roads are purely residential. Where there is only one lane for traffic of motorized vehicles, there is statistically less of a likelihood for an accident as well as there will be no lane shifting, and only turns that drivers should need to be aware of, as is always the case.

On the topic of safety, we should also consider mandatory helmet laws for cyclists. I was totally against this in my early adult life until I started working in the bicycling shops and heard the horrendous first hand accounts of survivors or tragic details from loved one who had lost family or friends. I know once upon a time, I had a horrific accident while mountain biking and had I not been wearing a helmet there is zero doubt that I would have suffered a catastrophic head injury in the least if not a mortal injury, as even with the helmet I was completely dazed and suffered a severe concussion.

In Maryland, there is a mandatory helmet law for all cyclist under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.


Maryland law requires all bicyclists under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle safety helmet when riding on public property. This includes roadways, trails and sidewalks. Some local jurisdictions maintain their own local rules:
  • Allegany County – under 16
  • Howard County – under 17
  • Montgomery County – under 18
  • Sykesville MD – all ages (includes adults)

If we are essentially inviting more folks, including our youth, to ride their bicycles alongside traffic, it may be time to change this law and make it mandatory for any cyclist to always where a helmet when on public property and cycling.

The law is already in place which states that we, as drivers, are to respect cyclists just as any other vehicle upon a roadway. I know for a fact from personal observation while driving as well as while cycling, speaking to cyclists in the industry, and accident reports we can all read and certainly have read in print or online, that most drivers simply do not have the proper respect for cyclists or the law as they should, ...often passing them unsafely, not offering safety cushions of distance when driving nearby, neglecting their right of way, and on and on and on.

"Riding a bicycle is environmentally-friendly, great exercise, and just plain fun. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous. In Maryland, there were a total of 686 pedal cycle-involved crashes in 2009, leaving 10 people dead and 578 people injured. Bicycles are considered vehicles in Maryland, and as such, cyclists must devote as much attention to riding a bike as they would when operating an automobile. Equally as important, motorists must allow cyclists the same respect and caution they would allow another automobile."

Further statistics:

Maryland Fast Facts:

  • Between 2007–2011, on average, 40% of all total crashes and 35% of all fatal crashes involving a bicycle or other pedacycle occurred between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm.
  • During those same years, on average, 52% of all bicycle or other pedacycle involved crashes occurred between May and August. In these warmer months, 49% of the fatal crashes occurred.
  • The vast majority of all bicycle or other pedacycle involved crashes and bicycle or other pedacycle involved fatal crashes occurred in daylight; 77% and 71% respectively.
  • Of the 5 pedal cyclists killed in 2011, 3 were between 40-54 years old.
  • On average, there are 745 bicycle and pedalcycle involved crashes in Maryland, resulting in 617 injuries and 7 fatalities each year.
  • Bicyclist crashes, injuries and fatalities are clustered in the urban areas of the State in the Washington metropolitan and Baltimore metropolitan areas.
  • Nearly 75% of all bicyclist crashes and more than half of all bicyclist fatalities occur in urban jurisdictions.
  • Bicyclist crashes occur most frequently during warm weather months; more than 63% of all bicyclist crashes occur between the months of May to September. Bicyclist crashes overall are distributed fairly equally across the days of the week; however, Tuesday is the peak day for bicyclist fatalities, accounting for 30% of all riders killed, on average.
  • Young bicyclists are the most likely to be involved in a bicycle crash; more than 40% of bicycle crashes involve a person under the age of 18, on average.
  • Approximately 84% of all bicyclists involved in a crash, injured or killed while riding are male.

More Considerations:


Where there are marked bicycle lanes paved to a smooth surface, a person operating a bicycle must use the bike lane and may not ride on the roadway, except in the following situations:
  • When overtaking and passing another bicycle, motor scooter, pedestrian, or other vehicle within the bike lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the bike lane;
  • When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway;
  • When reasonably necessary to leave the bike lane to avoid debris or other hazardous condition; or
  • When reasonably necessary to leave the bike lane because the bike lane is overlaid with a right turn lane, merge lane, or other marking that breaks the continuity of the bike lane.


  • By law, all bicycles must be equipped with brakes capable of stopping from a speed of 10 miles per hour within 15 feet on dry, level, clean pavement.
  • If operated in low visibility conditions, bicycles must also be equipped with a white beam headlight visible at a distance of 500 feet, and a red rear reflector visible at a distance of 600 feet if night time or during unfavorable visibility conditions. Alternately, a bicyclist may be equipped with a functioning lamp that acts as a reflector and emits a red light or a flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear instead of, or in addition to the red reflector above.
  • A bicycle or motor scooter may be equipped with a bell or other audible device, but not a siren or whistle.
  • Any rider under the age of 16 must also wear a helmet that meets or exceeds the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the Snell Memorial Foundation, or the American Society for Testing and Materials.

That is the same link three times in a row and there is much more very pertinent information at that site.

Perhaps the absolutely most important thing we can do today if we do indeed embrace this type of dedicated cycling lane is to even better inform and educate the general public. So again, there is more at that link above and every word is well worth heeding as reading them should make an indelible impression upon the reader.

I feel as though we live in a day and age of increasing selfish behavior as well as an increasing resistance to change of any type. How can we be so resistant to change when it is for a decent and reputable cause. The best excuse I can think of is the NIMBY theory which I learned of in Sociology 101.  If you are not familiar with this "theory" please read here.

I have to admit, studying these facets while writing this paper has opened my mind quite a bit beyond where it was closed a short time before... maybe not even really closed but just ignorant to so many different aspects that need to be considered with such a change as this. I am still 100% for this proposal and my only real reservations are once it has been changed, will there then be a flurry of accidents until awareness is raised through tragedy so that more people will then better understand all of the proper procedures on such a road or will there be the great undertaking of raising this life saving awareness and prevention through education beforehand?

I would personally urge the local schools to distribute flyers after an open scheduled school meeting at each and every school, and then have it brought home to be reviewed, signed, and returned by the parents via mail, as well as printing that same information online for all to study, as well as in the paper.

Traffic circles were chosen at the hospital on Willowbrook Raod because there has never been a deadly accident at these types of intersections in Maryland. A lot of thought and planning was taken in that design, and I for one appreciate that. I think this approach here, lacking haste and instead being patient and measured, will go a long way to making this a smooth transition that we can embrace, if so implemented.

In my opinion, why any opposition to positive action concerning bicycling safety in our area exists is beyond any logical rationale, beyond what I have stated above. All too often I hear the theme and complaints that follow of no jobs, or poor jobs, a lack of industry locating here to offer even more jobs, a lack of a greater and growing tax base, a lack of growth in general, or how poor our city looks, or how there is never anything to do (the youth's number one complaint...see the proposal, as this is addressed there as well in another proposal not connected to this but intriguing none the less) ...and the list of complaints grows with each passing day,... however when something that is so positive is offered to us, we...the citizens of the city, that is promising in every way and does not place a further tax burden directly upon our city, all too often we drag our feet towards progress and get stymied over the details when that time and energy could be so well better spent in other areas making changes and seeking progress.

I have a great amount of trust in our current city leaders here locally, understanding that they have our cities best interest at heart with each and every endeavour they address, and I think their individual as well as collective track records speak of this greatly, where we have in the past, seen miserable failure. We have vision today that was lackluster at best a very short time ago. We have abundant progress today which had been lacking for a very many years. We have a budget that is reasonable today due to great leadership and our accounting proves this undeniably as we are now in the black instead of the red we tread for far too long. Not very often do you see a city in a better financial situation after making so very much progress where funds have been spent, however there has been a huge effort to decrease unneeded spending and ownership of properties such as the old Memorial Hospital, now a possible future home to...well what do you envision?

We have possibility today where none existed previously, with the promise of long term fruitfulness that does not further burden us with a huge liability.

Here is an article with a huge list of pros and cons, one I will quote here and follow with a link so you may read it in its entirety.

"In my experience and in the conclusions of several studies, bike lanes may actually increase the incidence of motorists hitting cyclists while turning in front of them. This seems to be because the motorist who normally would turn right from the right edge of the road, not cutting off the cyclist's path (the cyclist would be behind or in front of the turning car), is encouraged by the bike lane stripe to make the turn from a farther left position, cutting off the cyclist's path.
I do support bike lanes as a tool for solving traffic problems where problems are occurring. Usually, I see bike lanes being established where riding was safe and enjoyable already, and in those places they are at best a waste of paint and at worst creating dangers that weren't present before."

Here are other studies to consider with pros and cons, all very valid points of contingency.

Bicycle Blunders and Smarter Solutions

Bicycle Lanes

San Francisco Shared Lane San Francisco Shared Lane Pavement Marking Study Pavement Marking Study

We here, as a location in Cumberland, Maryland, are a natural gateway, just as the early days of the settlers traveling towards the west, due to the fact that we have one terminus of the C and O Canal connecting to the Great Allegheny Passage Trail head. Where convergence exists, direction takes shape, and one of those directions is this exact proposal that we here deserve and cyclists deserve as we further carve out our tourism market place and highlight our beautiful city and its heritage while paving a road to the legacy we will leave behind to our children to come, and more importantly our youth here today.

Why on earth should we not allow bicyclists the safest and finest travel available when we can so easily do so?

Mr. Grubic who I worked for was visionary, and his vision has been enjoyed by millions of people today that reside in or visit Alexandria. The Mt. Vernon trail has even now been further extended well past Mt. Vernon and Northward...well, just read this...

"The trail's route parallels the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the western bank of the Potomac River. Most of the northern half of the trail is open and has views of the river and of Washington, D.C. The southern 8 miles (13 km) below Alexandria is largely wooded and has only occasional views of the river.
The northern end of the trail is at a parking lot near Theodore Roosevelt Island. The trail travels south near the Potomac River until it turns inland to pass between the Parkway and the west side of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Before reaching the airport, the trail passes through Gravelly Point, where there are often views of airplanes that are taking off and landing. A connecting trail travels through the airport and provides access to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Metro Station and the Abingdon historic site.
The Mount Vernon Trail at Belle Haven
After passing the airport, the trail crosses Four Mile Run and continues south into the Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, where it travels on city streets. After crossing under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and over Hunting Creek, the trail continues south along the Potomac River, traveling near Belle Haven, the west side of Dyke Marsh and the east side of Fort Hunt Park. The last mile before reaching Mount Vernon is a curving uphill inland climb.
The trail connects to other area hiker/biker routes including: the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail, a 45 miles (72 km) paved rail trail that travels between Arlington and Purcellville, Virginia (accessed from the Four Mile Run Trail, which ends at the Mount Vernon Trail near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and from the Custis Trail, which begins at the Mount Vernon Trail near Theodore Roosevelt Island); the 185 miles (298 km) Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, which travels from Georgetown in Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland; the Capital Crescent Trail, which travels north for 11 miles (18 km) from Georgetown through Bethesda, Maryland to Silver Spring, Maryland; and the Rock Creek Park Trail, which travels through Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland and ends near Lake Needwood.
Northern Extension (Potomac Heritage Trail): This 10 miles (16 km) unpaved hiking trail begins northwest of Theodore Roosevelt Island and travels northwest through Arlington and Fairfax Counties in and near the Potomac River gorge and near the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The trail travels near the shoreline of the Potomac River, crossing under the Francis Scott Key Bridge and passing Chain Bridge. The trail then travels inland along Pimmit Run, passes Fort Marcy Park, returns to the Potomac's shoreline and passes Turkey Run Park. The trail ends after passing beneath the American Legion Memorial Bridge, which carries the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) over the Potomac River."

It is clear to see, at least from my experience and vantage point, of what can be, however that takes not just visionary thinking, but collaborative work in unison towards that desired future goal and direction and what can and will unfold with further extensions is quite remarkable.
My Father, after a long and distinguished military career, was the Assistant Head of Construction to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and I watched this, the finest commuter rail system in the world in my opinion, grown from its early days into the greatness it is today, a shining example of vision and dedicated hard work through great planning and diligence. Just like the bicycle trails continually growing and connecting together to be of even more and more service to its users each has a positive effect of attracting youthful active citizens and families to those areas closest to their conveniences so offered, the areas become better and better looking as they are well maintained and in high demand, and their property vales always increase at a faster rate then properties not fitting this situation.
Imagine a future Cumberland where a bicycle friendly city and its specific intrinsic growth over the area is no longer a drawn out process but rather an embraced process where folks are instead anxious and excited and look forward to knowing that these community investments really have, in my opinion, no drawbacks and only enhance the entire area.

Here is an excellent piece of literature to examine. It does, however, mostly cover paved dedicated bicycle trails as opposed to marked bicycling lanes on shared roadways but still has many pros and cons to consider if you have read this far and your interest is as deep as my own, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this study (many studies combined as sited) as it has very real and distinguished statistics from the "real world" that illustrate experiences elsewhere as we plan ahead towards similar goals.

I would also like to propose how much safer and easier it would be to have law enforcement patrol our entire city making it an even safer community where the police officers would be often visible and seen side by side amoungst our citizens and tourists performing their duties as well as creating an even deeper bond with the general public at large, such as is the case in Seattle, Washington.
This is something I researched and wrote a paper on while in college studying Police Science and more specifically for the class "Community Policing".

I can easily envision this type of bicycle lane becoming more prevalent as well as more signage across the entire city making it increasingly safer for all to ride more often and leave the car at home, but again it will take the education of all of us together to utilize these new lanes safely.


Here are some further quotes and other specifications being debated as well as their respective sources.

 " Known as the Bedford/Frederick Street Bikeway, the plan would place a 5- to 6-foot-wide bike lane on Frederick Street beside the parking lane on the right side of the road. Currently two lanes, Frederick Street will be reduced to one lane wide enough to allow cars to pull to the left if making a left-hand turn. Bedford Street will not have a bike lane but will feature ‘Share the Road’ signs instead. "

In another article featured by "Bike Maryland":

Quote 1:
" The bike lane project is funded by a Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways Grant, which has funded other bike projects across the state. "

Quote 2:

" Heading north from downtown, we took Frederick Street where the new bike lanes are planned. This uphill section of road with two vehicular travel lanes planned to convert the the right hand lane to a bicycle travel lane. From here, we meandered along quiet roads until returning towards town via Bedford Street. Bedford, the southbound couplet to northbound Frederick, was a few feet too narrow to have a designated bike lane. After a little climbing, (and acclimating to the elevation), the downhill glide into town allowed for pacing with motorized traffic. "