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Could Columbia Be More Bicycle Friendly? Find Out Tonight

An expert in bicycle and pedestrian planning will be featured in the Community Building Speakers' Series Wednesday evening.

A future Columbia could be more friendly for bikers, if the next community building speaker has anything to do with it.

Jennifer Toole, an expert in bicycle and pedestrian planning, will be featured in the 's , at 7:30 p.m. in . Toole will explain the role of bicycle commuting and pedestrian transportation in Columbia's future.

"Cycling is on the rise and more and more communities are making investments to make cycling easier and safer," according to a CA press release. "Come learn about communities in the US and their successes creating greenways, safe bike lanes, and other changes that make these communities more livable, enjoyable, and more economically competitive."

A resident of Columbia, Toole established her own planning firm–Toole Design Group–which now has offices in Silver Spring, Boston, Seattle and Madison, WI. She has also worked with the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Federal Highway Administration and led the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.

Toole is also involved locally as lead consultant for the Connecting Columbia project, an effort by CA to improve the pedestrian and bicycle routes throughout Columbia for health, recreational and transportation purposes.

The speaker series event is free, and people can register with the Columbia Association online. Viewers can also post questions and interact on social media with the Twitter hashtag #CASpeakersSeries.

BOH April 25, 2012 at 06:14 PM
It's bike friendly in some ways, but even though there technically are bike paths that allow one to cross 29, 32, or other routes that cut off Columbia's roads, they're few, far between, impractical, or virtually unusable. There's almost no way to replicate the routew of Broken Land, Snowden River, and other major veins, and no safe way to cross 29, given the difficulty of getting to the Oakland Mills bridge from the mall side. Another major problem is that even when convenient pathways do exist, they're nearly impossible to navigate. I'm pretty good at land navigation, especially as a pedestrian, but other than badly-faded street names (which are often useless, as they don't indicate connections or directions to landmarks, areas, or main roads), the pathways seem like they're designed to make one get lost.
Mark April 25, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Howard County, as whole, is TOO friendly to bikes. The police don't enforce traffic laws with bikers. Bikers ride down the middle of the road and DARE someone to drive near them. Once this happens, drivers get po'd and do stupid stuff which endangers the life the of the biker. I think the county should license the bike and riders and give them tickets when they don't share the road as they're supposed to do.
Melissa April 26, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Mark, bicyclists have the legal right to use the middle of the lane when conditions make it unsafe to ride closer to the shoulder (such as debris). As a motorist, you also have the right to cross the double yellow lines to pass the cyclist (obviously when there is no on-coming traffic). By Maryland state law motorists must give cyclists 3 feet of space. I encourage you to try getting around by bike, because it really is an eye-opening experience to see things from another perspective.
Ann Delacy April 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Last night's program was excellent and very informative. As someone who is terrified of riding on the highway, I don't think Columbia is bike friendly. The only bike lanes I know of are in Oakland Mills and, unfortunately, the bike paths are unmarked and difficult to follow. My hope is that bike lanes are incorporated while I'm still alive and able to ride. Until then, I will continue taking Spin classes at one of the gyms.
Chris April 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Ann There is no reason to ride on highways, simple roads will do. Please consider attending Road Bike 101 -- you can sign up at www.bikehoco.org Chris

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