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County mulls more walking, bike paths

I

love living in Carroll County.

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I love the agricultural setting and the miles of idyllic country roads on which I can ride my bike. But in the years since I moved here, the continued growth of our county has resulted in more traffic, and more cars on the roads means more risk for the cyclists who share these roads.

As a triathlete, I not only cycle on local roads, but I am often forced to run on or near them as well. In 2014, I moved from an Eldersburg neighborhood with sidewalks, to a more rural setting near Sykesville. My new home is less than two miles from Piney Run Park, yet there is no safe or easy way to get there without driving. With plenty of houses and neighborhoods nearby, it confounds me that there are no walking or bicycling paths — not even a safe, reasonably wide shoulder — on White Rock or Obrecht roads, meaning that residents who wish to enjoy the nature trails, kayaking and playgrounds at the park may only do so by driving there.

There is also little rhyme or reason as to where bike lanes are created. In some places, bike lanes and shoulders simply disappear without warning. At some intersections — along Liberty Road at Exchange Drive and Klee Mill Road — short stretches of designated bike lanes have been added, but many more are conspicuously missing in places where we need them most, such as at the exit off Md. 26 to merge onto Md. 97.

With all the road resurfacing and improvements taking place over the years, it seems there have been plenty of missed opportunities to create bike lands or widen shoulders.

Community boards are rife with heated "share the road" debates between cyclists, runners and motorists over who has the right to use the roads and proper etiquette regarding such. By the way motorists: might does not make right; cyclist have a legal right to use the roads. But that is another column.

So imagine my surprise and delight to learn that the Carroll County Bureau of Comprehensive Planning has released a public survey to gauge the community's interest in bike paths and bike lanes. The survey is being conducted to determine whether county residents would use bike and walking paths — both as a recreational activity and as a viable form of transportation — if they were made more abundant throughout the county, and what kinds of improvements are needed to encourage residents to walk or bike more often.

"We are really trying to gauge interest in using biking and walking as a form of transportation in Carroll County," said Lynda Eisenberg, Bureau of Comprehensive Planning chief.

So for all who, like me, have been anxiously awaiting the development of safer cycling and walking paths in the county, and for those who would like to see more cyclists and runners off the roads and on designated lanes and paths, here's your chance!

The survey, which is easy to complete and takes only five minutes of your time, is available on the bureau's website at www.ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/compplanning.

But don't wait — the survey is only available through early March, so log on now to be sure your voice is heard.

410-857-7896

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