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City bike route work ready to start

10-mile loop expected to be fully designed by next summer

10-mile loop expected to be fully designed by next summer

October 22, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - Work is ready to start on the Hamilton Run section of a 10-mile Hub City bicycle route that is expected to be fully designated with signs next summer.

"That loop then is a tour of the city, and it tries to connect our parks and historical neighborhoods," City Engineer Rodney A. Tissue said. "And it attempts to keep people on streets with a reasonable amount of traffic."

"It's the first start to make Hagerstown a bike-friendly town," said Dick Cushwa, president of the 75-member Cumberland Valley Cycling Club/Antietam Velo Club. "I checked it out, rode it and agreed it was a good route."

Tissue said the city is looking to provide options that reduce the community's dependency on vehicles.

"We're really putting an emphasis on getting people to walk and bike," Tissue said. It is part of an initiative to make Hagerstown a more livable place, he said.

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The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau took the city's bicycle route and incorporated it into a county system in a new color brochure for cyclists. The last brochure was produced 20 years ago, bureau President Thomas Riford said.

"There are a lot more bike routes that the state, county and city promote that are more welcoming for cyclists," said Riford, who is preparing to print 20,000 copies.

Trails.com rankings show that half of Maryland's 10 most popular trails are in or near Washington County.

"Time and again, we have bike groups that tell us that Washington County is the best for biking," Riford said. "It's really something that attracts a significant number of visitors. Washington County is so attractive to cycling that regional and national events are being held here."

In addition to the loop around Hagerstown, the city is looking at striping a bicycle lane on one side of north/south streets in the core of city. Prospect Street will have a bike lane, and the project also could include Locust, Jonathan and Mulberry streets, Tissue said.

Each of those streets is 25 feet wide, so excess pavement would be dedicated to the bicycle lane, Tissue said.

"For years, this community has debated whether they're one-lane or two-lane roads," Tissue said.

The Maryland State Highway Administration requires that new development make the outside lanes of roads wider for bicycles, Tissue said.

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