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Perryville officials asked to support county bike trail that would include their town

BY MARISSA GALLO, mgallo@theaegis.com

8:43 PM EST, December 19, 2012

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The Town of Perryville has been asked to endorse a countywide bicycling route that would incorporate areas throughout the town.

Tamika Graham, a senior planner with the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO), gave a presentation to the mayor and commissioners Tuesday on the Cecil County Bicycle Plan and what it could mean for Perryville.

While the plan is basically complete, Graham said, WILMAPCO's next step is to seek adoption of the plan from the county and various municipalities, most of which have already endorsed the plan.

The goal of the bike plan is to promote bicycling for recreation, fitness, tourism and as a mode of transportation, Graham said. Hopefully with a plan in place, bicycling will become more practical and attractive in the county.

In addition to developing a bike network that is safe and accessible to the public, education on safe bicycling will be encouraged.

One of Cecil County's biggest issues, however, is the lack of bicycle signage and designated routes.

To help with this, Graham said, intersections will need to be "enhanced," such as intersections along Route 40 in Perryville.

"Enhancing intersections is really important for cyclists," she said.

Parking for bicycles throughout the county is "lacking," Graham continued, and it would be crucial to include public parking for cyclists, which has been shown to increase bicycling in general.

Suggested routes in Perryville include bikeways along Routes 222, 40, 7 and 275.

WILMAPCO has consistently worked with the State Highway Administration on creating the plan, Graham said.

Bicyclists, however, would still not be permitted to bike across the Hatem Bridge or Conowingo Dam, though WILMAPCO has been working to change that.

WILAMPCO is recommending that the town work on its infrastructure, such as striping and other pavement marking, update biking regulations and possibly fund a bike retrofit program.

Commissioner Barbara Brown asked if there are any age restrictions on the bike route.

Under state laws, there aren't any age restrictions, Graham said, but she added she would hope a parent would be responsible for saying where his or her child could or could not bike.

"If kids see people [bicycling] with cars," Brown said, "they're going to want to do it."

Graham responded that proper education on bicycling would address the issue and a map of the bike route could designate which areas are safer for children.

Mayor Jim Eberhardt said that there is a major project coming up from the SHA to redo the crosswalks at the intersection of Routes 40 and 222. The project is in the design process, he said.

If intersections are a huge problem when it comes to bike routes, Eberhardt wondered if there would be an opportunity for SHA to "make the intersections less fearful for bikers."

Commissioner Michael Dawson asked if it was in the plan to "take private property from people," as part of making roads wider to make room for bike lanes.

"The plan is not aimed at taking people's property," Graham said.

Most bike lanes in the county will use existing shoulders on the road, she explained.

In cases where there isn't a shoulder, the plan proposes in the long term that if a road is being redone, then consideration be given to adding a bike lane at that time.