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Hancock to turn alley into bike path

June 10, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HANCOCK -- A long-contemplated proposal to turn a downtown Hancock alley into a bicycle-friendly gateway to the town got the green light Wednesday from the Hancock Town Council.

The council voted 3-1 to proceed with a plan to limit traffic on Taney Street, an alley that runs between West Main and Canal streets, primarily to bicycles, with access granted to the businesses on either side of the alley as needed.

The path is intended to encourage bicyclists from the Western Maryland Rail Trail and the C&O Canal Towpath to visit Hancock's Main Street, Hancock Town Councilman Nigel Dardar said.

Studies completed in 2002 and 2006 recommended ways to spruce up the route for bicyclists, such as banners displayed on light poles and pavement markings inviting trail users to Main Street.

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The town has obtained a grant for the project through the Recreational Trails program, Town Manager David Smith said.

In previous discussions about the project, the council was divided about whether to close Taney Street to vehicle traffic, Dardar said.

That disagreement came up again Wednesday, with Councilman Tim Smith arguing that limiting traffic would make it harder to attract businesses to the vacant buildings on Main Street to either side of the alley. Smith, who voted against the project, said other routes would make more appropriate entrances to the town for bicyclists.

Councilman Sinclair Hamilton said he, too, was concerned about preserving access for neighboring businesses, but he said he was satisfied with a plan to install removable barriers that neighboring businesses could remove to allow access for deliveries.

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