SALISBURY — A new bike route between downtown Salisbury and Salisbury University is imminent with the City Council accepting a $32,440 grant this week for the installation of pavement markings and signage on Riverside Drive and South Boulevard.
The bike routes are just a piece of the puzzle however, and the council also wishes to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at promoting shared awareness of roads by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
The $32,440 grant is coming in from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Bikeways program. It will be used to create a well-marked bike lane along 1.18 miles of Riverside Drive and .37 miles of South Boulevard, connecting downtown and the university. It will include markings for dedicated bike lanes and shared bicycle/vehicle lanes as well as route signage.
It may sound like it would be easy to throw together bike routes in Salisbury, said Councilwoman Terry Cohen, but it’s actually a difficult process that required substantial funding.
“A lot of people don’t understand what goes into creating [a bike route] and what the costs represent,” she said. “They think, ‘how much could paint cost, a decal or a sign?’ So it may be helpful just for the education of the public to give them some idea or show them comparable projects elsewhere.”
Cohen added that any such public awareness campaign should extend to the actual use of the bike lanes. The new bike route will increase safety for cyclists, but Cohen was adamant that it is up to everyone who uses Salisbury’s roadways to learn how to share.
“I would just like to say that it is everybody’s job. Here the city is doing their job but all bicyclists have to be aware to follow all of the laws and rules,” she said. “Vehicle drivers have the responsibility to be on the lookout, whether it’s bicyclists or motorcyclists, pedestrians, the same thing. Everybody’s got a stake in this.”
Important signage, like those urging people to treat bicycles as if they were vehicles, is posted but not everywhere in the city, said Councilwoman Laura Mitchell. She suggested adding some educational links to Salisbury’s website. The city is already looking at launching some kind of shared roads awareness campaign.
“We think that it would be relatively inexpensive and simple to put together something along the lines of a public service campaign,” said Tom Stevenson, city administrator.
The ordinance to create the bike lane unanimously passed its first reading this week and should be ratified at the council’s next legislative session Monday.