So, it’s been a long week for yours truly. As anyone who checks my Twitter feed has realized by this point, I’ve been cat-sitting a coworker’s pet since June 1, and I’m still regaining my voice from a really bad cold I managed to catch despite all the 80-plus degree weather we’ve been enjoying.
That said, the news didn’t stop just because I took a day or two off to cough myself hoarse and try to prevent a neurotic cat from hiding behind my dishwasher, and things stayed busy on the city beat (as things on the city beat tend to do). So, without further ado, let’s take a look back at some happenings this week in the lovely city of Frederick:
The illustrious career of Friendliness Bike
For the last few years, anyone curious enough to pull up the planning department’s contact page on the city of Frederick’s website would find a curious addition to the index of department employees.
“Bike, Friendliness,” the last contact reads, listing the individual as a planner before going on to provide an email address — it’s “firstname.lastname@example.org” for those who take the time to click it — as well as a city phone number matching the office line already listed under one Davis, Tim; the city’s airport and transportation planner.
“The idea is to make us look as friendly as possible, thereby giving a direct method for just bike and pedestrian questions,” Davis said of his alter ego, Friendliness Bike, on the contact page.
The email was first set up in 2011 shortly after the city received an honorable mention for its efforts to be more bike-friendly by the League of American Bicyclists, Davis said. In the years since, Davis has worked tirelessly along with the members of the city’s Ad Hoc Bicycle Committee, now the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, to promote the continued construction of shared-us bike paths around the city and other bike-friendly goals.
Most recently, Davis presented a memorandum of understanding before the city’s Board of Aldermen at Thursday night’s hearing that paves the way for $686,309 in grant funds to be spent improving transportation on the Golden Mile, including a bus-only lane and a 10-foot dedicated shared-use path.
The project goes hand-in-hand with Davis’ approach to improving transportation in the city, especially when it comes to making pathways accessible to bicyclists.
“Basically it is bricks and mortar infrastructure, not plans or education programs or even enforcement — those all help — but when it comes right down to it, we need to build stuff,” Davis wrote in an email response to The Frederick News-Post’s questions before Thursday’s hearing.
After the board voted unanimously to join the MOU, one of the aldermen, Kelly Russell, took a moment to recognize Davis and his hard work with a special, self-signed proclamation in which she listed the many accomplishments made toward increasing the bike-ability of Frederick during his time as a planner.
“And, whereas, Tim Davis, our transportation planner, has dedicated 18 years to the city of Frederick, shepherding all of these accomplishments to fruition and they would not have happened without him, therefore I, Alderman Kelly Russell, liaison to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, do hereby proclaim Tim Davis as Frederick’s bicycle-friendly champion,” Russell said, reading her proclamation before the hearing.
Russell’s gesture served as both a congratulations as well as a farewell to the newly-dubbed bicycle-friendly champion, who recently announced his retirement.
Realignment of Butterfly Lane moves forward
The board also authorized spending $76,191.70 to have Potomac Edison remove an electrical pole and shift underground power lines along Butterfly Lane, moving forward the long term goal of realigning Butterfly Lane.
The realignment, which was last discussed by the mayor and board on March 21 when the aldermen approved $7.5 million for the overall project, will hopefully ease traffic congestion caused by the back-to-back traffic lights placed where Butterfly currently meets Route 180. At the conclusion of the project, Himes Avenue will be extended to meet Route 180 at Swallowtail Drive, about 350 yards farther back from where Butterfly Lane currently intersects the road.
Thursday’s authorization was a necessary step to begin work on the realignment, which will pave the Himes Avenue extension through the Hargett Farm property and eventually make way for the new Westside Regional Park on that land, as well.
What remains to be seen is whether or not the realignment will be worth the aggravation its construction will lead to on my morning commute from the Golden Mile to the Ballenger neighborhood, but one man’s problems with an admittedly easy commute are hardly newsworthy. Maybe I could save myself some trouble by biking into work from now on ...?