Baltimore County Executive Mohler proposes leveraging $200,000 annually for bike trails, lanes

Baltimore County plans to set aside $200,000 to match grants from the state, the federal government and private programs that could go toward building bike paths and bike lanes under a new initiative from County Executive Don Mohler.

The money for the program, dubbed BaltCoBike 2030, initially come from the Department of Public Works budget. In an emailed statement, Mohler said he hopes there will be a line item in the county’s budget each year to support the program.

In future years, whether that funding is included in the county budget will depend on the newly elected county executive and County Council members.

In an emailed statement, John Olszewski Jr., the Democratic nominee for Baltimore County executive, said Mohler’s plan is an “important step” toward making neighborhoods “walkable, bikeable and accessible.”

Republican nominee Al Redmer did not respond to a request for comment.

Previous grants that have been awarded to the county to construct bike paths or bike lanes have required the local government to match a certain percentage of those grants, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler explained.

Baltimore County recently completed several bicycle improvement projects around the county, with about 27 miles of paths. An online map shows the current state of projects around the county.

In years past, when matching funds were needed, the county would have to “work through the budget to sort of figure out where that money is going to come from,” Kobler said.

A dedicated pool of $200,000 each year would allow the county to more easily match grants for bike lane and bike path construction.

Baltimore County estimates the fund could be leveraged to meet matching requirements from different grants totaling as much as $1 million for county bike projects.

Mohler said in a statement the funding and planning process “will prioritize funding for recreational off-road bike trails and bike lanes that will be strategically located,” to link neighborhoods, parks and schools

The county currently isn’t applying for any specific grants, and there are no identified locations for new or expanded bike paths, Kobler said.

County Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the southwestern part of Baltimore County, called the initiative “great” and said he would work with Catonsville Rails to Trails, a nonprofit group that works to expand access to biking in the Catonsville area, to search for grants for which the county could apply.

cboteler@baltsun.com

twitter.com/codyboteler

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