As Jon Korin rode his bicycle through a quiet neighborhood one recent morning in Anne Arundel County, he talked excitedly about new improvements in the area.
A wider bicycle and pedestrian path along Jones Station Road. A new, safer crosswalk at nearby Ritchie Highway. The improvements even provide students, faculty and staff at Anne Arundel Community College with a safer, more efficient route to campus, said Korin, chair of the Anne Arundel County Bicycle Advisory Commission and president and founder of the nonprofit Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (BikeAAA).
The route Korin rode this day was a newly completed connection between the Baltimore & Annapolis (B&A) Trail and Broadneck Peninsula Trail – two popular shared-use paths now linked by a mile-long stretch of new pathways, crosswalks and wayfinding signs.
The improvements were completed earlier this year thanks in part to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Bikeways program.
“The completion of this vital connection in Anne Arundel County is an important milestone in our efforts to improve Maryland’s transportation network for pedestrians and cyclists,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “We’re improving safety and accessibility along two busy corridors, connecting communities and educational institutions, and bolstering the quality of life for our residents. I couldn’t be prouder that MDOT played an important role collaborating with our local partners in helping complete this important project during these challenging times.”
Founded in 2011, the MDOT Bikeways program has provided state transportation funding for the planning, design and construction of bicycle infrastructure, including bike lanes and shared-use paths, across the state. The program provides funding to local jurisdictions and organizations for projects that support the goals of the Maryland Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.
Since the program’s inception, every county in Maryland has received Bikeways awards, totaling $24 million for 160 projects. Of those 160 projects, 114 have been completed.
These projects help bolster Maryland’s transportation network by improving connections to transit, employment centers, schools, shopping and other destinations, Secretary Slater said. They also support economic development, environmental stewardship and the quality of life in Maryland communities.
In December 2019, Governor Larry Hogan announced an increase in funding to the Bikeways program from $2 million to approximately $3.8 million annually. Then, earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly renamed the initiative the Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program in honor of the late bicycling advocate and Baltimore County resident who died of cancer in August 2019.
Just 52 when she died, Lamphier was a dedicated cyclist and activist who had enough political savvy to “get stuff done,” said MDOT Active Transportation Planner Nate Evans, who administers the Bikeways program and knew Lamphier personally. Evans believes Lamphier would be thrilled to see all the progress that has been made on bicycle infrastructure since her death.
“I think she’d be blown away,” Evans said. “She would be shocked of everything being done in the program named after her.”
This year, the MDOT Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program has designated $3.78 million for 19 projects across the state to construct bike trails, design low-stress, on-street bike lanes and deploy bicycle traffic counters. The increase in funding will be welcome, Evans said.
“It’s going to fund more and better projects,” he said.
Maryland residents, businesses and other community members will benefit, said MDOT Deputy Secretary R. Earl Lewis, Jr.
“Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are key components of a strong transportation network,” Deputy Secretary Lewis said. “As more and more of our residents turn to cycling and walking during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for them to have a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system. That’s what we’re working hard to deliver every single day.”
Back on the B&A-Broadneck Peninsula Trail connector, Korin pointed to a bicycle hitched to the front of an MDOT Maryland Transit Administration bus as it pulled up to the Jones Station Road Park and Ride. Moments later, he pointed to a cyclist crossing Ritchie Highway, then to two others.
These were just a few examples of people benefiting from the new connector – from serious road cyclists to casual riders to transit users, Korin said. The improvements make the road crossings safer for motorists, too, as new signs and traffic signals were installed.
The connector project was a joint effort between the MDOT State Highway Administration, MDOT Maryland Transit Administration, Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks and Anne Arundel County Office of Transportation. BikeAAA and the Anne Arundel County Bicycle Advisory Commission played active roles as well.
“Our goal is to try to give folks a safe choice to not get in their cars for every trip they want to make,” Korin said. “If we make it safe for people, some of those trips can be made by bicycle or on foot. But people are simply not going to do it unless they feel safe. Connectors like this will make them feel safe.”
The Bigger Picture
As Korin spoke, a handful of cyclists and pedestrians passed, some using the connector, others riding on the B&A Trail. On weekends, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the B&A Trail has been especially busy, Korin said. The Broadneck Peninsula Trail has been busy, too, though parts of it are still under construction.
Two phases of the Broadneck Peninsula Trail have been completed; the three remaining phases are in the design stage or are set to begin construction in the next two to four years.
When the Broadneck Peninsula Trail is finished, cyclists will be able to ride from northern Anne Arundel County and Annapolis to Sandy Point State Park and the Chesapeake Bay.
In the meantime, the new connector joins a larger network of trails that stretches across the state, the region and the country.
- The East Coast Greenway is a 3,000-mile route from Maine to Florida, which follows the B&A Trail from Glen Burnie to Annapolis.
- The 9/11 Memorial Trail is a 1,300-mile route that also follows the B&A Trail as it connects the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
- The Grand History Trail follows the B&A Trail, too, as does the American Discovery Trail – the latter stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
“These trails are important for local connections, but they’re also important for national trail networks,” Korin said. “This spot right here in Severna Park – the connection of the Broadneck Trail and B&A Trail locally – is also the connection between a 3,000-mile north-south bike route and a 3,000-plus-mile east-west route as well.”
Completion of the connector is a significant step forward in the efforts of MDOT, local governments and organizations such as BikeAAA, Korin said. BikeAAA and the Anne Arundel County Bicycle Advisory Commission are developing a vision for a complete, interconnected trail network, and the Bikeways program will continue to play a part in it, he said.
“It would be a hub of trails, like this one, that would connect the places where people live with the places they want to get to,” Korin said. “Connectors like this one are absolutely vital to bringing this trail network vision to reality.”
For more information on Bikeways grants, go to: https://bit.ly/3c33jky.
For more information on MDOT, go to: mdot.maryland.gov.