Follow by Email

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Patuxent Trail update

     If you have been a reader of this blog you know how big a fan I am of the Patuxent River Trail that goes from Lake Elkhorn to all the way to Vollmerhausen Rd.  This trail at this time of the year is covered with a lush green carpet.

These plants have tiny yellow flowers that open up during our warmer days.

     For the past few years there has been interest in extending this trail on the other side of the river through the Allview neighborhood to Lake Kittamaqundi.  This extension would create a pathway system of almost 9 miles without crossing one road.

     Needless to say this path has received some opposition from some Allview residents.  The path would go behind 2 resident properties but these homeowners have gotten a number of other Allview residents to sign a petition to oppose the trail.  Any opposition makes council members nervous, especially if it comes from your district. It seems that people enjoy our system of trails except when it goes behind their property.  Recently the Baltimore Sun reported this on a Council hearing on the Bike/Walking Master Plan.  Here is some of that article:
  " But proponents diverged on a proposed amendment to slash a central pathway along Little Patuxent River next to the Allview community in Columbia and replace it with a path on Broken Land Parkway.

Citing steep banks and flooding concerns, Columbia resident Michael Compson said the path along the river would be especially dangerous for children and dramatically change the "secluded" and "quiet" character of the neighborhood.

"Whenever the river comes up… it's just a mess," Compson said. "People don't live back here but if it's a flash flood [the water] can come up within an hour."

Despite Compson's objections, Allview resident Sally Ryder said the path along the river was a safe and scenic route for residents who otherwise "have to dodge traffic and parked cars through our hilly and winding roads in order to enjoy the great outdoors."

Speaking on behalf of the Columbia Association, which runs its own system of connected pathways, Jane Dembner said the path is a critical connection point to Downtown Columbia.

Resident Herman DeLang said the proposed alternative doesn't make sense and is "dangerous."

"That path is a critical component of the overall plan," DeLang said. "We have many paths that run right behind people's yards. ... I'm not sure why there's a NIMBY attitude for Allview residents."

Roughly 160 people signed a petition opposing a path in the Allview community, according to Columbia resident Ted Markle."

     As a regular user of this path I have a comment on the proposed path being dangerous when the area experiences some flooding.  The existing path on the other side of the river is in a wetland that does get covered with a few inches of water after a heavy rain.  I have been on the trail when it is "flooded."

     The water is not rapidly flowing and makes for an interesting opportunity to see how a wetland works to minimize the impact of the heavy rain.   The only time that it might be dangerous is if you decided to jump into the river for a swim.
     As a homeowner who has a path 30 feet behind my property I think the recreational value of our path system far out weighs my minor loss of privacy caused by the path.

      As a frequent walker, jogger and biker on our paths I have seen first hand the dangers of multiple users of our paths.  Having each group sharing our paths requires courtesy and respect from all users. The group with whom I have a problem is the bikers who go too fast on our paths.  Our paths are designed for slow and moderate speed biking.  Biking at 15 miles an hour and faster is dangerous on most of our paths.  There are too many blind corners and too many children on our paths to go that fast. Here is a blog post where I discussed this issue.
      This week I learned of the following incident:

     "On Monday afternoon around 1:30 pm, my daughter's best friend was hit by a cyclist on the path around Lake Elkhorn. The guy was on a red bike and wearing cycling gear - predominately red/white with a silver helmet. Unfortunately, I have few other details about him beyond that, but we know he was riding a "racing" (road) bike and dressed accordingly. The collision occurred between the dam and the dock on the north side of the lake, and the guy was headed east towards the dock.

The girl who was hit by this guy broke her femur and had to spend the night in the Hopkins trauma center. She's now adjusting to spending the next few months in a cast that's as big is as she is. She's four, by the way, and her fifth birthday is Monday April 4th. Talk about timing. 

The family filed a police report and the Columbia Association is aware as well. Needless to say, our friends are looking at considerable medical bills, to say nothing of the headaches of having such a young girl confined to a cast for the next several months. 

We have heard from another friend who witnessed a guy with a similar bike/kit riding in a similar manner -- aggressively -- around Centennial Lake. We would obviously appreciate any information you may have about his identity. I imagine his bike sustained some kind of damage -- at the very least the wheel is likely out of true -- so perhaps someone at a shop will see a red bike come in for service.

Someone on another email thread about this generously offered to send a card to the girl, which I think would be a fantastic idea. I would be happy to collect and deliver any cards or gifts.

Finally, I know most of us in this group know better, but it doesn't hurt to always remember that along multi-use paths like CA's, we -- the bike riders -- bear the greatest responsibility for safety. Just as we rightly admonish people who drive carelessly on the roads we ride, we have the potential to be the careless ones on pathways. Which is to say there is no Strava glory in a KOM along a popular walking path. I love riding these paths as much as anyone—especially now with my daughter—but the obligation is on us, more than pedestrians, to keep everyone safe. Alerting folks to your presence is obviously smart, but that is not enough. "

    The problem is generally one of young male bikers.   Most never call out when passing and have little awareness of how dangerous their riding is to other users of the paths.  I would urge the Columbia Association to look at the issue of path safety.  Options like center lines on our wider paths, signs warning of blind corners, clearing brush and trees to cut down on obstructed views and other measures to slow bikers and prevent accidents with walkers.  Here is a blog post which highlights some of these suggestions. 



Anonymous said...

I very recently walked the proposed pathway along the river on the Allview side. Most of the pathway is well removed from homes and is typical of many other pathways in Howard County. Two homes are close to the pathway route. One of those owners has actually BUILT A BASKETBALL COURT on the Columbia Association owned open space. The owner treats public land as if it is his own private property.

It took over 40 years to get the pathway around Lake Kittamaqundi completed because residents on the north end didn't want people in their backyards. They used flooding and environmental concerns to thwart it for years. Now it is a very popular path enjoyed my the greater community. Don't let a few NIMBYs stop the development of an amenity that will be used by many.

Anne said...

The plant in your picture with the little yellow flower blanketing the ground is called lesser celandine. It's gorgeous this time of year. Also, unfortunately, extremely invasive in this region.

Anonymous said...

The trail as proposed would affect more than the two properties you claim. Aside from that, the risk of flooding and flood damage is very real for several properties. Personally, I sandbag my basement door whenever more than a few inches of rainfall is predicted. Installing the necessary bridge will likely make flooding worse. And despite what you claim, that river flashes very quickly there. As it is now, the county is very slow to respond to maintenance concerns (e.g. the fallen tree that crosses the river and is creating a heck of a logjam). When you consider the viable alternative, clearance issues with the 29 bridge, flooding damage that will occur, etc., why would this path be the first choice?

duanestclair said...

I am not sure how the path would make the flooding situation worse for the property owners. Yes this area does experience flooding that can be problematic for homeowners. That goes with having property along a river. I can see how a bridge could potentially create a greater flooding issue but with proper design and bridge height that issue could be mitigated. There is another bridge that goes over this river and causes no increased flooding.