According to the current draft of the Carroll County Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan, there are about 143 miles of “bike-ped” projects — either existing, under construction, or planned.
Creating the master plan is a fun project, Planning Department Acting Director Lynda Eisenberg said, one that will result in a guide for municipalities across Carroll and better prepare the county to request grant funding for this type of infrastructure.
“It’s a really positive thing,” Eisenberg said. “We are working with Public Works and other bicycle and pedestrian groups.”
It’s for “not just the county,” she said, “but municipalities, just to give them those tools and that toolbox.”
After researching the county’s inventory of bike-ped infrastructure, the Planning Department found a variety of bicycle lanes, paths and designated routes, shared-use-paths and pathways, sidewalks, and crosswalks.
When considering potential changes to and designs for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, Eisenberg said, it needs to be consistent across the county so that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can recognize and navigate easily.
Chapter 7 of the master plan is dedicated to such designs, and at a recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Eisenberg and Comprehensive Planner Nokomis Ford shared the recent developments and ideas for the chapter titled, “Design Alternatives and Safety.”
The goal of the chapter, as stated in the current draft of the plan, is to ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety while balancing the needs of all transportation users, and infrastructure for them in the appropriate places.
Traffic calming measures so people adhere to the speed limit and advisory shoulders to protect cyclists are just a few of the ideas detailed in the section — which has been accepted by the Planning and Zoning Commission and is available for review on the county website.
Ford explained to commissioners in July that many of the ideas were derived from the Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks guide, and safety recommendations rely on Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration crash data.
“Most of the [emergency] response calls go to pedestrian-related crashes,” Ford said, “and we also have that information by fire district.
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“We found Westminster had the most calls, at 44.8 percent, and Sykesville and Mount Airy had the second- and third-most [calls].”
Ford also said state police crash data found 44 percent of the crashes between 2015 to 2017 were on county roads and 34 percent were on state roads, that 60 percent of crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists occur between May and October, and that crashes overall were up 20 percent. Plus, 80 percent of bike crashes lead to death or injury.
Pedestrian crashes are often caused by teens and young adults, said Ford, and pedestrian crashes counted for 3 percent of all crashes and 19 percent of all fatalities.
“Bicyclists do have a right to the road,” she said, “and they’re going to be there. So what we’re recommending is a safety campaign going forward just to help educate everyone — drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians — to look out for each other and learn how to use the road together.”
Chapter 5, which focuses on the importance of walkable and bikeable areas as well as a strong plan’s potential to benefit Carroll’s overall health and economy, was accepted in January of this year. Chapters 3 and 4, focusing on existing conditions in the county and future connections, were accepted this April.
The Planning Department will continue its work on the plan, which will come to the public when it is completed. However, Eisenberg said, the plan is a localized guide for municipalities and the county and not a guarantee that any of the ideas or infrastructure will be implemented.
For county residents looking to vote for photos to be used in the plan, submissions have been made and the voting period will be open until Aug. 17.