Frederick: A Bicycle-Friendly Community

In 2010, Frederick mayor Randy McClement, with the assistance of city planner Tim Davis and the newly-created Frederick Bicycle Coalition, formed what was then termed the “Mayor’s Ad-hoc Bicycle Committee”. Numerous people from the area were interviewed for positions on the committee, which was to be composed of people who lived in the city or owned businesses here and were interested and/or possessed knowledge of bicycling issues. Its first goal was to obtain “Bicycle-Friendly Community” (BFC) status as granted by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).

William Smith

William Smith

A community attains this status from LAB based upon the assessment of several criteria, many of which are encapsulated in “The Five E’s”. These are Engineering (creating safe places to ride bicycles and lock them up), Education (enlightening the public about sharing the roadways, helping give people the abilities, skills and confidence to ride), Encouragement (creating a bike culture in one’s community that welcomes and celebrates bicycling), Enforcement (ensuring safe roads for all users by making certain that all users of the public thoroughfares all abide by the same rules) and Evaluation and Planning (for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option). There are four levels of BFC status: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. A community in its first application, if successful, will likely achieve the bronze level.

The first task of the committee was to apply for the Bicycle-Friendly Community status from LAB. Plans were drawn and work began. Thanks to the support of the city Board of Aldermen (especially liaison Kelly Russell), Mayor McClement, planner Tim Davis, and the volunteers on the committee, the following objectives were reached and were cited in our application.

• Volunteer George Ruszat, who incorporated an idea from longtime Frederick Pedalers member Dan Lufkin, was the major force behind the creation of the History Loop Ride. This is an eight-mile route through the city that visits numerous historic places, such as Mt. Olivet Cemetery and the Barbara Fritchie house. One can find a brochure and directions for this ride at the Visitors’ Center and most bicycle shops. The History Loop won an award from the Maryland Municipal League in the Spring of 2013.

• The construction of a pilot program of bicycle lanes and sharrows (shared road markings) on 7th Street between Ft. Detrick and East St. Sharrows are markings painted on road pavement that look like a bicycle with two “chevrons” underneath. The purpose of a sharrow is to alert motorists that bicyclists should be expected in this travel lane and that the bicyclist may very well take up space in the middle of the lane. This action is taken when the lane width is too small for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to exist side=by-side.

• With the assistance of grant money and the Frederick Bicycle Coalition, bicycle racks have been placed in numerous locations in the center of town. More are coming; in addition, workplaces and stores in the city are being encouraged to provide bicycle parking for their employees and/or customers.

• Planning and assistance with the annual Bike To Work Day every May. In 2013, Frederick had its largest turnout of registered bicyclists with over 275 registrants. The celebration consisted of rides from Hood College and City Hall to the MARC station on East St. Numerous speakers were on hand, including Mayor McClement and several members of the Board of Aldermen and the department of Tourism. County Transit was represented, as well as area bicycle shops.

• The planning and building of a “pump track”, which is a small structure, made of special hard-packed dirt consisting of a high clay content, where cyclists on BMX-type bikes can ride around a track without stopping, by taking advantage of momentum to pedal as little as possible. Its construction was performed by volunteers at no cost to the city’ the dirt was donated; the pump track officially opened in September 2013. Since then, it has become very popular, especially with the younger crowd.

• Planning and design of a Rails-With-Trails project along East Street, along with bicycle lanes and shared road markings, from the MARC station to Worman’s Mill, in a public-private partnership that will attract tourism and businesses to the area.

• Three large events also have taken place in Frederick; the committee itself was not necessarily involved, but its members assisted with various duties. They are the High Wheel Race (old-style Penny Farthing bicycles – the only one of its kind in the entire United States), the three-day Tour de Frederick (created jointly by Neil Sandler of Spokes Magazine and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Frederick County) and the Grand Fondo National Championship.

• Plans for educational events/classes for bicyclists.

Our community’s application was well-received and, in 2012, the city of Frederick became a bronze-level recipient of the LAB’s Bicycle-Friendly Community award. Next on the horizon is Silver status. The progress made in 2013 and beyond will be important in that endeavor. The benefits to Frederick will be seen in the form of increased tourism, bicycle-friendly businesses, more customers for restaurants and more people staying at nearby hotels.

The committee was formalized in the spring of this year and renamed from the “Mayor’s Ad-Hoc Bicycle Committee” to its current name (Frederick Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy Committee). In addition, new members were added and pedestrian issues were incorporated into its focus.

You can find the committee on the Internet at these links. Meetings are generally held on the first Tuesday of each month.

Frederick Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee on city web site:
http://www.cityoffrederick.com/index.aspx?nid=695

Frederick Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frederick-Bicycle-Pedestrian-Advisory-Committee/146686215379530

Other web sites of interest:

Frederick Bicycle Coalition:
http://frederickbicyclecoalition.com/
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League of American Bicyclists (LAB): http://www.bikeleague.org/ league-logo

Frederick Pedalers Bicycle Club: http://www.frederickpedalers.org

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