Thursday, October 25, 2007

Parks Threatened?

I got an email today. Actually a couple. Some of those Urgent Action Neded NOW!!!!! ones. It seems in the arm twisting going on to drag Maryland's legistators into special session to raise taxes, The Governor of Baltimore, um, PG, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore Counties, um, Maryland, Martin O'Malley is listing among the dire consequences the possible closure of 8 state parks.

I don't get the Imminent sense of urgency that is implied. Why do I have to get all hyped about it now? Yes, if the politicians don't screw us this week, the Gov might throw these closures on the agenda, but this would happen sometime in the next year, not the next two days. Ringing phones now might give the delegates the impression that we want our taxes raised, when who we should be blasting is the Gov himself for even making the threat. Send this week's emails to him. THEN follow up with your local reps.

I have to say I liked the letter one local rider is sending:

Dear Md delegate,

It has come to my attention that due to budget considerations, eight Maryland parks are under immediate risk of closure. According to my source, the eight parks are: Gambrill, Rosaryville, Greenbrier, New Germany, Rocks, Gathland, Washington Monument, Fort Frederick, South Mountain Complex, Smallwood and Pocomoke. I consider this to be outrageous. I have been a frequent user of many of these parks for almost 20 years, and I have seen the number of park visitors sky-rocket within the last decade. These areas provide wonderful recreational and educational opportunities for not only the citizens of Maryland, but for visitors from surrounding states as well. Many of them also contain monuments to the history of our state. They must be protected.

Additionally, the closure of these areas as parks would open them up to trespassers and vandals. The potential destruction of these areas and need for policing to prevent possible unlawful activities within their borders could potentially outweigh the price of keeping them open. I for one would much rather see my state tax dollars be spent to protect these areas, rather than police them.

I strongly hope that you will oppose these closures and do what is necessary to preserve these valuable MD resources. Thank you very much for your consideration. I look forward to your reply,

I would only change one thing. The last paragraph would read:
I strongly hope that you will oppose these closures and do what is necessary to preserve these valuable MD resources without raising my taxes, you bloodsucking leeches. Thank you very much for your consideration. I look forward to your reply,

In fact, I think thats what I will send.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

update 5 - commuter class

News Flash! Blurry fat man waves his hands a lot and talks about bikes!

I presented a seminar on bike commuting at The Bicycle Escape on Monday evening. Unlike the one in the spring, which was aimed at people wanting to try out bike commuting for the first time, this one covered the topics of commuting in the fall and winter and riding in darkness and inclement weather. Turnout was unfortunately low (is the small subset of bike commuters in Frederick County reduced even further by the idea of riding in winter?), but those of us who were there had a good time!

Photo courtesy of T. Rinker and The Bicycle Escape.

Now I'm all caught up with my posts. I have to go do some work now....

update 4 - trailwork

October 20th was a huge trailwork day. MORE, Patapsco State Park, the SSO Factory Team, and several local businesses* banded together to build new trail in the Hilton section of the park. 75 kick ass, hard working trail builders came out for a herculean effort. We routed new trail around a section that has been closed to bikes for years. It looks GOOD! I'm still sore days later, 'cause those deskbound muscles don't get worked too often. Post work there was a potluck cookout where I did my best to recoup whatever weight I lost working on the trail, in the form of beer provided by Clipper City. Oh Yeah!

BTW, special props to Number One Son Ian, who tagged along with me and worked hard for hours. He ROCKS!

* Sponsoring shops included
The Bicycle Escape
Catonsville Bike Shop
Bike Doctor Linthicum
Avalon/Germantown Cycles
Race Pace Bicycles

Support these shops!

PS Joe has a few photos here. Somebody else forgot camera batteries....

update 3 - riding

The Mrs. was out of town for a few days, so kid koordination cut into riding time quite a bit, but I got back out to Middletown for some more adventure. Read all about it here.

update 2 - Orange!

Hooray! The replacement for my broken Quickbeam arrived! Its Orange. I was skeptical when Rivendell changed the color of the QB to orange, but I have to admit it has grown on me. This frame is in a batch that is "a super duper reinforced version." Beefier is probably better for my riding style. I'm waiting for the shop to get in some frame saver before I build it back up. I'm using all the components off the old QB, except I'm planning on picking up some Tektro 520 levers and using V brakes this time around. That will take the front brake cables out of the way of the bar bag mount I want to start using again, and give me some easy to set up "umph" for slowing down.

Update 1 - bike plan

Been so busy I haven't had an opportunity to blog. Way back on October 10th a couple of us got together downtown and rode our bikes over to the Bicycle Fix in Westview, to hear Paul Dial, Director of Frederick County Parks and Recreation Dept., give a presentation on the county bikeways plan. It was sponsored by Friends of Frederick County, a smart growth group, and was very interesting.

Paul was there to primarily give the "Parks and Rec" viewpoint. The plan has several groups in the county with a stake in the plan. Planning, of course, the Board of County Commissioners, to approve stuff, and the Highway Dept. and Parks and Rec. to execute projects. From a road perspective, the county has been without a transportation planner for some time (or has had somebody doing transportation planning as an additional duty). I heard that they have filled the vacancy, so here's hoping that there may be positive activity not too far off. The question also exists as to who in the highway department is the person to act on the planning and BOCC recommendations.

The main thing I took away was the absolute glacial pace at which these things move. The plan is almost 10 years old, and Ballenger Creek is the first part of the plan to see any action.

It was interesting to hear the rational for choosing the Ballenger Creek as the pilot path. (short, high density population, developer funding sections of the path). As an aside, I found the information about using the planning process to require developers to build portions of the trail as part of there approval process was really interesting. Some of the FOF folks were squirming a bit to see how much of the this path is developer funded. But, using only taxpayer funds, the path would take several more years (beyond the four or five already) to get built. Most new paths come under capital improvements, and about 10% of the parks budget goes for bike and trail related stuff.

Here is a generalization: 1 mile of paved path = $1,000,000. Woosh. It was asked why not more natural surface trails, and Paul said that it depends on densities and usage studies, and that certainly the majority will probably not be paved.

Some changes don't have to be in the capital budget process. Volunteer built trail could be done as a 'minor improvement,' in existing parks, depending on the cost. The off road cyclist in me is interested.

Another interesting point brought out was the lack of any prioritization in the bikeways plan. What needs to be built first? Paul pointed out that Parks gets its direction from the BOCC, so we, the riding public and trail users, need to
get together and decide what should come next and then take that to the commissioners.

Speaking of the Bikeways and Trail Plan, I'm currently going through the Bike Plan, Bikeways and Trails Standards Document, and all of the county regional plans to generate a list of the roads designated as 'on road' portions of the plan. This list can be used to confirm that any county highway work done on these routes does indeed bring them up to meet the standards. I'm also working to get the County GIS department to create an overlay showing the existing State and local facilities, and the planned ones.

Big thanks to Friends of Frederick County for organizing the event and to Bicycle Fix for being such good hosts!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Long weekend

We had a good long weekend. Sunday we headed out to our favorite stretch of the C&O Canal for a short ride, and Monday, while wife and kids headed back to school, I got in a free, long, leg burning ride up in the Middletown Valley.


Beats the heck out of yard work!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Give Hipsters a Brake

Stockholm sure looks like it has a great bike culture. This is from an alleycat held there last night. I know I missed SSWC06 over there, but it still ranks high on my list of places to visit and ride.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The most astonishingly ineffectual web cause yet.

Free Burma

I'm speechless. At least they got the country's name right. Alas, the only peace the peaceful demonstrators will find is the peace of the grave.Has somebody been listening to Carter again? Sad.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The best of hills, the worst of hills

The 1903v2 was a blast. A painful blast, but a perfect day for riding. My full ride report is here, but I hung off the back for most of the ride, and opted out of the last killer climb. Still, I did the same mileage as the rest of the crew, and got back at the same time. Yeah Bikes!