In late May, Howard County, which is located just outside of Baltimore, approved $5.3 million in funding to improve and expand county streets, sidewalks and bike lanes.
“People who live in and visit Howard County have always used our streets, sidewalks and bike lanes. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic closing gyms, recreation centers and other venues where children, families and individuals typically gather for active play and to get physically active, people were reminded just how important it is to build and maintain these public spaces,” said Deepak Suri, Board Chair American Heart Association .
As part of the fiscal year 2021 capital budget, $3.8 million in new funding will go toward bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects including the publication of a complete streets design manual and improvements for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps. Additionally, $1.5 million will go to road resurfacing, which will result in more bike lanes.
“These investments mean more options for getting around in your community,” said Deepak Suri. “Rather than solely building roads for people who drive, the investments being made benefit everyone in the community, making it easier and safer for people to walk, bike, use wheelchairs, use public transportation and drive.”
Under-resourced neighborhoods that have traditionally disinvested in will be the first to benefit from the infrastructure improvements. Howard County’s new fiscal year begins July 1, 2020. Improvement projects should begin shortly thereafter.
“While our advocacy resulted in some bright spots in this process, particularly in restoring funding for the complete streets design manual and ADA ramp installation that will make it easier for people with disabilities to get around safely, our work as a coalition is needed more than ever,” Streets for All, a coalition advocating for complete streets in Howard County, wrote in a statement. “We thank all of the members of our community who raised their voice in support of a more walkable, bikeable and wheelchair-friendly community. Our coalition will continue to advocate and hold our leaders accountable to make Howard County a healthier and more connected community for all of us.”
The American Heart Association, the Streets for All coalition, the Horizon Foundation and countless volunteers and advocates called, emailed, wrote letters and social media messages to and met in-person with county council members. Their efforts led to the success of this campaign.