Howard County has hired a champion mountain biker and founder of the North American BikeShare Association as its first pedestrian and bicycle planning manager.
Chris Eatough currently serves as a community planner with BikeArlington in Virginia. He'll start his new job at the county's Office of Transportation on Sept. 8.
The new hire comes as part of a broader initiative to expand bicycle and pedestrian accessibility throughout Howard County. A bicycle master plan is in final draft format, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman allotted $900,000 in the fiscal year 2015 capital budget for bicycle plan projects.
In Columbia, the Maryland Department of Transportation, Howard's Department of Planning and Zoning and the Columbia Association are funding a study to look at whether a bike share system might work in the community.
Next year, the county plans to apply for certification as a Bike Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists, a designation that would allow Howard to acccess incentives and technical assistance for its bike projects.
Eatough will help coordinate all of these plans as pedestrian and bicycle planning manager for the county. In addition to his work for BikeArlington, the Elkridge resident has been a professional mountain biker since 1998 and has won several national and world 24-hour solo titles. Eatough holds degrees in civil and transportation engineering.
In a statement, Ulman said he "could not be more pleased that someone with [Eatough's experience and talent has agreed to lead this effort.
“Tremendous energy has gone into our plans to make Howard County the most accessible community it can be for bicyclists and walkers," he said.
"More people getting around on two wheels and two feet in Howard County makes for a healthy, prosperous, happy community and expands the quality of life,” Eatough said in a statement. “I am thrilled to bring all my experience, ideas and passion to my own backyard and contribute to creating a truly bike and walk friendly community for my family and neighbors."