SALISBURY – Cyclists in Salisbury had a good week as the City Council approved an ordinance to create a long-awaited bicycle route.
The ordinance proposed was to approve the first phase of a bike route that will run from the intersection of Camden Ave. and West College Ave. to North Division Street near the Government Office Building. The route will provide dedicated bicycle-only lanes where feasible and shared bicycle and motorized vehicle lanes where the roadway width is not sufficient for a dedicated bike lane. The project will install lane striping, symbols, shared lane markings and signage as per the standards and the existing roadway conditions.
According to Public Works Director Teresa Gardner, the project application to the Maryland Bikeways Program has been approved and the Maryland Department of Transportation has approved $13,750 in reimbursable grant funding for Salisbury Bikeways. There are also several gifts from local groups to create the route.
Gardner furthered on Monday evening that the grant is expecting to be received in September and in order to complete that process a final plan needs to be submitted by Aug. 24 showing the layout of the bike path.
The ordinance states, “The City of Salisbury desires to encourage cycling throughout the City. The proposed bicycle route will consist of a route, in both directions, starting at the intersection of Camden Avenue and West College Avenue, proceeding north on Camden Avenue to South Boulevard, east onto South Boulevard, north onto Waverly Drive, east onto Carroll Street, north onto North Division Street, terminating on North Division Street near the Government Office Building.”
Bike-Sby is a group of citizens focused on creating a high-quality network of bike lanes in Salisbury. The intent of this network is to prove safe bike lanes that people in Salisbury can use daily to get from their home to their place of work or school.
The organization has developed a GIS-based method for assessing people’s home and work locations, then used this to predict the potential demand for proposed bike lanes and have concluded the a strong for why bike lanes are needed in Salisbury.
Bike-Sby has been in the works with the Office of the Mayor, Salisbury Public Works, Salisbury City Council, Salisbury University, Wicomico Board of Education, and Peninsula Regional Medical Center to make a bike route in Salisbury happen.
“This is not something not only in our community but many communities across the nation that is not seen as a frivolous luxury by any means, it is seen as a basic expectation, so I thank you very much for furthering this ordinance for the bike lane route and finding the funding to do this,” Matt Drew of Bike-Sby said on Monday.
Council Vice President Deborah Campbell voiced the public’s concern over the possibility of roads within the route becoming one-way. Drew responded that bike-Sby had conducted a feasibility study that compared locations of where people live and comparing them to where they work and go to school and one of the results was that a North-South route would need to be created, in particularly the area of Camden Avenue and Smith Street.
Drew furthered that Camden and Smith are no wider than 26 feet, giving 10-12 feet for vehicular traffic and 5-6 feet for bicycles.
“The only way you would have enough space in some of the these areas is convert the two-way traffic to one-way … the only way that would be possible absent of expanding the right-of-way and major construction would be to convert those streets to one-way traffic,” he said. “In the end, because of all of the other effects that that conversion would take, we didn’t recommend that to happen.”
Campbell added that the choice for now is to take the bicycle lane at Camden Ave. and South Boulevard out to Waverly Drive instead if continuing down Smith Street and Camden Ave.
Council President Terry Cohen revealed that the city has been paying attention to the issue of bicycle lanes for a couple of years now in conjunction with the county where federal tax dollars were spent, about $20,000, to conduct a study by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which just released the final draft of their report and can be found at www.swmpo.org.
“This is the type of thing that we have an opportunity to work very well together on and to see this build a piece at a time … I am really excited that the city and the county have been working on this for a long time and here your group comes and it seems to really fit in, and I would like to see it stay fitting in,” Cohen said. “Good planning yields good results.”
Following a few amendments to specify the language, the council voted unanimously to approve the first phase of the proposed bicycle route in first reading.