Bicycling enthusiasts and interested residents are being invited to review the latest draft of the Western Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan — designed to create a blueprint for biking and pedestrian access in the county.
The "western" plan includes communities within the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th County Council districts, including Lutherville, Timonium, Cockeysville, Hunt Valley, Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Catonsville, Arbutus and Lansdowne.
The proposal released this week represent an update from previous draft plans, and officials said it reflects public comments that were submitted on the previous draft, and includes expanded recommendations for pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
The study is part of a countywide plan to better accommodate walkers and bikers, and recommends encouragement, enforcement and education strategies to promote safe travel by bike and foot.
"Bike lanes and walking trails are positive, family-friendly amenities that attract people to a community and enhance their everyday quality of life," said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in a release announcing the plan update.
Among the key recommendations of the plan is a focus on improving and adding to the county's stock of "shared-use" paths — paths that can be used for bikes and pedestrians — as a means of connecting neighborhoods.
For instance, the plan suggests that, "a path from Robert E. Lee Park northward following Roland Run and the Central Light Rail Line through Towson and Cockeysville to the Torrey C. Brown (NCR) Trail would provide a key transportation route for bicyclists in the … York Road corridor.
In addition, the plan says a shared-use path in the area of Cromwell Bridge Road could link Towson to the recreational and scenic areas at Cromwell Valley Park, the reservoir and even Gunpowder State Park.
In the southern part of the county, the plan suggests a shared-use path from Old Frederick Road to the Banneker Community Center in Catonsville, and a another shared-use path in the Baltimore Highlands area that could connect to a BWI trail system.
The Baltimore County Office of Planning will host two informational meetings on the Western Plan so citizens can view it and discuss it with county planning staff. Sessions will be held:
• Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Benjamin Banneker Museum, Almanac Hall, 300 Oella Ave., Catonsville.
• Wednesday, January 25, 6 to 8 p.m., in the cafeteria of West Towson Elementary School, 6914 N. Charles Street, Towson.
In addition, written comments can be submitted until Jan. 27, by writing to Kathy Schlabach, project manager, Baltimore County Department of Planning,
105 West Chesapeake Ave., Suite 101, Towson, MD 21204.
After this round of public review, the Western Plan will be submitted to the Baltimore County Planning Board and the County Council for adoption as an amendment to the county's Master Plan.
The Western Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan can be viewed at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/westbikeped. The recommendations for bicycle improvements can also be viewed on an interactive map at myneighborhood.baltimorecountymd.govby selecting the Bicycle Facilities tab. That map depicts recommendations of both the Eastern and Western Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plans. The Eastern Plan was approved by the County Council in 2006.
Officials stressed that it will take time to realize the plan recommendations, particularly in light of current economic conditions, but said having an approved plan in place can provide guidance for future decisions.