Bike Advocates' Meetup with WABA and State/County Officials: Sunday, 4-6pm at Proteus Bicycles in College Park. Expect updates from WABA's Maryland coordinator Seth Grimes, Maryland state Senator Jim Rosapepe, and County Councilmember Eric Olson (who chairs the county's Transport Committee). We will of course have plenty of time to discuss the Greenbelt East Trail! Here's the event invite from WABA.
Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail is Semi-Official! Last week we applied with the state of Maryland to incorporate a new nonprofit organization: "Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail, Inc." which has the sort of weird acronym FOGET -- I've been just calling us "Friends of" at this point! If you would like to be part of the early organizing process for "Friends of", please respond to this email and I'll start a list of startup volunteers.
Great County Council Letter to SHA! Last week, Prince George's Councilmembers Ingrid Watson and Eric Olson sent a letter to SHA requesting an expedited feasibility study. Councilmember Watson represents the trail's district; Olson is chair of the Transport Committee. I've also requested formal letters to SHA from the City of Greenbelt and the County government.
The letter from the County will probably be the toughest to get, I think, because the Dept. of Public Works and Transport has told me they are concerned about maintaining parts of the trail. However, since the trail would mostly be placed within the existing roadway, on existing asphalt, the State Highway Administration would maintain it under current rules. If SHA's feasibility study suggests placing parts of the trail outside the roadway, such as between Good Luck Road and Lanham Severn Road, where there are business entrances, then it would be maintained by the county, just like the county currently maintains the sidewalks in that area. (In that case, the trail would essentially be a double-wide sidewalk rather than an on-road protected bike lane in that sector.) Here is the exact language that needs to be in the request letter to SHA: "If funded, [Prince George's County/City of Greenbelt] will participate in the acquisition of right of way (if needed), provide opportunities for public involvement, and maintain the sidewalks once constructed."
On balance, for a county that is committed to Vision Zero safety improvements and meeting carbon emissions reductions targets, over-worrying about future maintenance of relatively small potential sidewalk-like sections, before a feasibility study is even started, seems premature.
In the long run, we could even get Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail involved in maintenance, by winning grant funding or raising donations and mobilizing volunteers. We should also work with Bike Maryland to get the law and/or SHA's regulations changed. The outside-the-roadway sidewalk maintenance requirement for local jurisdictions seems to discriminate against counties with tighter budgets.
NPS Grant possibility. Later this month or early in May we should learn if we were awarded a National Park Service RTCA grant, which would provide expertise and technical assistance, as well as organizational support. We got six community partner letters for our application from the City of Greenbelt, WABA, ATHA, the East Coast Greenway, the Greenbelt Community Development Corp., and the Glenn Dale Citizens Association.
Events in May? Now that the organizational paperwork is filed for Friends of the trail, it's time to start thinking about some additional events and stakeholder visits. I'd like to visit NASA again. They wrote a nice letter supporting the trail proposal, but their legal department said they couldn't publish it because they have rules against "lobbying." (Of course, I think when safety and basic equitable access is lacking, that should be an exception to the rules!) I'd also like to revisit Eleanor Roosevelt HS, and visit the Owens Science Center and DuVal HS and some of the churches and businesses along the route to try to build awareness and get feedback. We could have another trail walk/ride, this time maybe starting at the Glenn Dale splash park! Please let me know if you'd be interested in helping with event planning and stakeholder visits next month.