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Votes

Yield to Homeowners?

MacArthur bike path moves forward; Council seeks residents’ comments.

The way the bike path on Macarthur Boulevard will develop is fairly certain, but the County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee wants to wait on comments from homeowner’s associations.

“Why not get comments from them?” said committee member George Leventhal (D-At Large).

The committee was discussing the bike path and was set to offer its own comments to the staff from Park and Planning and the Department of Transportation and Public Works who will be developing the plan.

The project is still in its early phases and is not yet ready for a vote on how to go forward.

“You are not making a final decision,” said Glenn Orlin, of the council staff.

In developing the project, planners had identified three options. One of the three would have involved widening MacArthur by five-feet on each side to make bike lanes, in addition to creating a separate path for novice bikers and pedestrians.

Residents had been opposed to this because of the amount of land that would need to be acquired by the county, and the addition of 10 feet of impervious surface.

“The widening would impact several properties,” said Gail Tait-Nouri of the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

Plan developers were able to identify a different option, widening the road by two feet on either side, and narrowing each driving lane by one foot. This would create a three-foot bike lane on the shoulder to accommodate the many cyclists who commute on the road.

“The really good bicyclists, they want to be on the rood,” said Committee Chair Nancy Floreen (D-At Large).

Additionally, the plan calls for a paved path along the road, with a grass strip separating the path from the road. In areas where there is not enough space to construct the strip, a physical barrier will be built to ensure the safety of cyclists.

Since this option was not presented to the adjacent homeowner’s associations when they gave their comments, the committee decided to refrain from making its recommendations until the associations could be contacted for comment on the new proposal.

“It would be germane to know,” Leventhal said.

The narrower lanes could also slow the speed of traffic in the area. “This is a huge issue in terms of traffic calming,” Floreen said.

While some speculated that by narrowing the lane, drivers will feel that they have less space and slow down, others envisioned the possibility that increasing the width of paved surface including the bike and pedestrian paths, would give the feel of a large road, causing drivers to go faster.

No one present was able to say which scenario would be more likely.

“I’m not prepared to guess,” said Al Genetti, director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works.