Joint Statement on FY2018 Capital Budget by the Bicycling Advocates of Howard County and the Horizon Foundation
The Horizon Foundation and Bicycling Advocates of Howard County issued the following joint statement in response to the county committing $600,000 in funding for Bicycle Master Plan projects in the FY 2018 capital budget presented Friday by County Executive Allan Kittleman:
Despite widespread support, research documenting the benefits of a more bicycle-friendly community and the county executive’s past statements in support of cycling, County Executive Kittleman presented a budget that falls far short of the investment needed to make bicycles a viable transportation option in Howard County.
More than 1,000 people and 18 groups representing business, environmental, health and transportation interests urged the county executive to fund the Bikeway for $3 million, sending in support letters, testifying at hearings and talking to neighbors. They, like us, believed that the county could do more to promote bicycling and reap the economic, environmental and health benefits. As one father told County Executive Kittleman recently, “I would like to see the Bikeway built in my children’s lifetime.” Unfortunately, at the level of funding proposed, families will be waiting for the foreseeable future.
We understand that the county faces tough budget decisions, but budgets are also a reflection of public priorities. Many communities across the nation are making great strides in funding infrastructure projects like the Bikeway. In Salisbury, which has a population that is one-tenth the size of Howard County, the mayor has proposed roughly $750,000 to implement projects in the city’s bike master plan for the next fiscal year. Montgomery County’s county executive has recommended more than $20 million for bike routes. Howard County is falling behind.
We are disappointed that Howard County’s proposed funding level will not allow the community’s built environment to truly promote health. The Bikeway would have brought 50 miles of routes accessible to more than half of the county’s residents, connecting them to schools, parks and other destinations. The Bikeway would have made it significantly easier and safer for residents to take a bicycle to everyday locations and achieve recommended physical activity guidelines.
When County Executive Kittleman took office, his transition team acknowledged the importance of instituting measures that would increase healthier lifestyles. The report stated that he should “aggressively address the County’s obesity issue” and “work with the business community and other community partners to develop both education and public policy strategies that will affect positive and measurable change.”
Promoting bicycling and walking is one of those policy strategies. Yet without adequate investment, the county executive’s budget falls short.
We are grateful for the many voices in our community who rose to support the Bikeway. Together, we are committed to health for the long haul. We will continue to advocate for the Bikeway and work with the county government to make it a reality.
Background information on the Bikeway
The Bikeway is a proposed 50-mile network of bicycle routes that would help people in Howard County bike more easily and safely to places they need to go. The Horizon Foundation, Bicycling Advocates of Howard County and other community organizations asked the county to fund $3 million for three consecutive years as the next step in ensuring county streets are designed to promote health, help the environment and contribute to a robust economy. The Bikeway includes 10 percent of projects in the county’s Bicycle Master Plan and would be located within one mile of more than half of county residences, schools and parks.
The Horizon Foundation is an independent philanthropy dedicated to improving the health and wellness of people living or working in Howard County, Maryland. We invest in strategic grants and initiatives to achieve the greatest impact. We also build partnerships and advocate for public policy changes that advance our mission.
The Bicycling Advocates of Howard County (BAHC) is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization founded in 2008 as a coalition of cycling clubs and bicycle riders in Howard County, Maryland. BAHC advocates to improve the visibility and safety of bicycling, supports bicycling education programs for adults and children, and promotes a vision of bicycling and sharing the road as part of a healthy, energy efficient, and environmentally sound transportation system to help achieve a sustainable future for Howard County and for Maryland.