More than 40 people, including staff from the Maryland Department of Transportation, the State Highway Administration and Motor Vehicle Administration — as well as planners and citizen bicycle advocates from a number of Maryland counties — turned out for a bike community meeting Tuesday night at MDOT headquarters in Hanover.
One reason for the meeting was an opportunity to introduce Darrell B. Mobley, MDOT’s still-new acting secretary, to the transportation, bicycle and pedestrian community.
A potentially good piece of news for bicyclists is that Mobley, as well as State Highway administrator Melinda Peters and Motor Vehicle administrator John Kuo, all of whom made brief presentations, described themselves as recreational bicyclists. Mobley spoke of tackling the Great Allegheny Passage this summer; Kuo mentioned that he was a weekend C & O Canal rider in Montgomery County; and Peters added that she was a dedicated cyclist, training for an Ironman triathlon and regularly taking long rides in Carroll County.
Peters noted that the over the summer the state had put a Complete Streets policy into effect for all projects, focusing on enhancing designs for bicyclists and pedestrians, particularly in urban areas.
Perhaps most noteworthy, State Highway officials also said they are preparing to update Maryland’s 20-year Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Master Plan. The updated plan will be completed on the same schedule as the overall 2035 Maryland Transportation Plan, as now required by state law, according to an MDOT handout last night.
An MDOT website with information on the update plan and project is scheduled to be launched by Nov. 30, 2012. MDOT plans to announce public engagement opportunities at that time as well. Over the next few years, MDOT will assess current conditions, goals, trends, needs and financial resources — and develop investment and implementation strategies.
Kuo said that the MVA has begun coordinating with the SHA, in particular, on safety and education issues, emphasizing work on reducing distracted driving — and promoting the state’s “3-foot” law,” designed to protect cyclists. Kuo pointed to the MVA’s recent public service announcement about safe driving and bicycling, as well as MVA driver renewal envelopes sent out this fall that highlight the 3-foot law.
Carol Silldorf, executive director of Bike Maryland, responded, however — after praising MVA’s efforts — that the agency still needs to expand its education efforts, suggesting 3-foot law educational messages could also be placed on emissions testing envelopes and other public communications. And not just over the course of one month, “but six months or a year,” she said.