Thursday, February 4, 2010

Smart Transportation and Bicycling Symposium

Yesterday we hitched a ride with John Brunow of bikes@vienna to attend the 13th Annual Smart Transportation and Bicycling Symposium in Annapolis. The symposium is sponsored by One Less Car: "Every day we advocate for providing safe and effective transportation alternatives for all citizens through education, lobbying, and facilitation between our communities, governments, and state and local representatives."

Due to the heavy snow that fell during the previous night, the symposium got a late start and some speakers were not able to attend. Nevertheless, it was a good chance to network with other advocates and hear about the latest Maryland bike news. Here are some highlights from the day:

Several Maryland state legislators spoke in support of bike facilities: Senator Pugh (Baltimore Co), Delegates Cardin (Baltimore Co, Chair of the MD Legislative Bike Caucus), Carr (Montgomery Co), Bronrott (Montgomery Co). Secretary of Transportation Swaim-Staley spoke about funding for the Great Allegheny Passage trail.

Public Health and Transportation: Exploring the Inextricable Link - Dr. Keshia M. Pollack discussed the health impacts of our transportation choices including the linkage between obesity and driving, and the healthcare costs of obesity, auto crashes, and respiratory problems. A study conducted during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta showed there was a 42% drop in asthma-related emergency visits when traffic was banned from the downtown area. She advocates for more "health people in healthy places".

Transportation FOR Maryland, Jennifer Bevan-Dangel of 1000 friends of Maryland discussed this statewide coalition of approximately 30 groups trying to reform transportation planning in the state. "This means planning our transportation systems–and our development patterns–to ensure that there are convenient and affordable travel options available to everyone, in every community, at every stage of life." A main focus is to expand traffic impact studies for large developments to include regional impacts on all modes of transportation.

Bicycling Advocates of Howard County (BAHC), Chairman Jack Guarneri talked about the great work being done by this coalition of bike groups in Howard County, which includes Columbia, MD. Their goals are similar to FABB's and inlcude:
  • Developing a Howard County Bicycling Master Plan
  • Supporting physical road improvements (better shoulders turn lanes,etc.) and additional share the road signs
  • Fostering driver and bicyclist education and communication initiatives
They helped establish the first Howard County bicycle advisory committee. They have 501(c)4 status, which allows them to be involved in political campaigns, but donations are not tax deductible.

Safe Routes to School in Maryland—Joe Pelaia, the Maryland Safe Routes to School (SRTS) coordinator noted that 270 schools and 112,000 students have been involved in SRTS programs in Maryland since 2007. WABA receives funds from the program for conducting bike ed classes. Patrick McMahon, the new Maryland Safe Routes to School National Partnership state network organizer, said a few words about his plans. He was hired by WABA in January. He also gets the award for longest job title.

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