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Southern Maryland Active Recreation and Transport Alliance

SMARTA is a new alliance to support people-powered, climate friendly outdoor recreation and transportation in Southern Maryland.
Press Release

Our mission is to:

· Educate local and state officials on the needs of alternative transportation users (hikers, bikers, and paddlers) and the benefits of green tourism.

· Unite a community of hikers, bikers, and paddlers – both experienced and new – that is passionate about making people-powered recreation and transportation safe and accessible in Southern Maryland.

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Get Involved!  Please join us for our kickoff potluck meet and greet on September 29, at Patuxent Adventure Center (Solomons). And be sure to sign up for our initial email newsletter in the box below

WHO: Southern MD Active Recreation and Transport Alliance
WHAT: Kickoff Potluck with SMARTA founders and friends, and everyone interested in better trails, bikeways, and access in So MD.
WHEN: Friday September 29, 6-730pm
WHERE: 13372 H.G. Trueman Road, Solomons MD
AGENDA: A brief presentation about SMARTA and a Q&A for bike/walk/paddle projects for us to work on with you!
BRING: A snack or a dish if you wish, or just yourself is fine too.

Solomons Island Cycling's Safety Recommendations

Read SIC's short white paper with recommendations for improving on-road bike access and safety in Calvert County.

Water Access for Paddlers

More public access to waterways: People care more about waterways if they can actually experience them. We need governments and waterfront owners to provide more paddler access points for fee or for free.

Ferries at old or new Southern MD wharf sites. Imagine ferries available to transport hikers, bikers, and paddlers across our rivers, stretching active transportation experiences across Southern MD. 

Check out the Patuxent River Water Trail

Re-imagining the Patuxent River Bridges

For green tourism to take off in Southern Maryland, we will need to re-make our main river crossings, including bike/walk access on the bridge decks, and also for paddle launch access below. In particular, the Thomas Johnson Bridge (Route 4 in Solomons, MD) and the Route 231 Bridge, which connects Prince Frederick in Calvert County with Hughsville in Charles County, need to become scenic tourist-friendly routes for bike riders and hikers. Solar ferries connecting key points on either side of the river should also be considered!

SMARTA's Recommendations for the Statewide 2050 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

1. Sidewalks maintenance responsibility: Sidewalks alongside state highways in Southern MD are in poor repair. The State Highway Administration (SHA) requires sidewalk repairs to be the responsibility of the local jurisdiction or county. We understand that projects have been canceled because counties refuse to assume future cost liability of maintaining new sidewalks. This responsibility needs to shift to SHA since these sidewalks are all on State property. 
2. E-bike use on shared use trails: For the safety of other trail users, e-bikes that do not require pedaling should not be permitted on any dedicated bicycle/pedestrian facility such as a protected bike lane, side trail or other multi-use trail. 
3. Demonstration/rapid prototype projects: Establishing dedicated facilities for walking and bicycling is a lengthy and costly process. We recommend that Maryland encourage rapid prototyping of bicycle and walking facilities such as protected bike lanes and trails. These can be developed rapidly and at low cost, yet can readily be removed if they prove to not perform as intended. If they do work, the labor and expense of making the changes permanent can come later. 
4. Share the road: Any road segment requiring a "share the road" sign is unsafe for bicycling (and likely getting little bicyclist use), and should be a priority for upgrade. 
5. Sacrifice of shoulder for passing and turn lanes: To improve vehicular traffic flow at new private developments or at intersections, SHA routinely re-marks highway pavement to create turn lanes while eliminating road shoulders. As a result, bicyclists and people on foot must then “share the road” or try to transit the road segment outside the highway corridor. This policy has made it so that highways that were formerly suitable for bicycle use are now totally unusable. This approach needs to stop and such intersections should be priority projects for bicycle accessibility restoration. 
6. Right on red: Pedestrian crossing lights are useless when drivers sail through an intersection to take a right turn against a red light. In addition, on some state highway intersections there are turn lanes with yield signs where they join the crossing road, making it difficult and dangerous for a pedestrian to reach the island where a cross light applies. The turn lanes need lights to stop traffic for people on foot and the right on red should either be delayed by a traffic signal so people can actually cross there with some level of safety– or right on red should be banned. 
7. Project planning to consider connectivity: Too often, infrastructure projects are developed without considering the needs of bikers and pedestrians. Such a failure is evident on the Route 5 project north of Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County. The highway is being upgraded with turn lanes, shoulders, and sidewalks, but the shoulders and sidewalks stop several hundred yards short of an intersection. While there is a bridge to cross at MacIntosh Run, the narrow walkable raised platform that is non-optimal. Creating connections between road segments that are currently bikeable and walkable will greatly expand active transportation opportunities and should be a priority.
8. Add side paths and multi-use trails: On a rural stretch of two-lane highway, wide shoulders afford a fairly reasonable level of safety for bicycle riders – as long as the shoulders remain after highway upgrades are made. Along multi-lane highways or in congested areas shoulder use is in competition with motor vehicles and is very unsafe – if you bike along these areas your risk of being hit is high. Protected side paths or multi-use trails should be a high priority in these areas. 
9. Bike lanes: Unprotected bike lanes beside high-speed, multi-lane highways are a waste of taxpayer money – no one with a wish to live will use them (and that is why very few people do). Instead of installing narrow sidewalks and/or narrow bike lanes on such highways, make the sidewalk wider to allow mixed pedestrian/bicycle use or protect the bike lane with prefabricated curb stops and flexposts. 

Biking and Hiking Routes and Trails

Southern Maryland is full of great places to ride, and we're working to build more!  For Example, see the list below of ride routes used by Solomons Island Cycling:

Southern MD Mountain Biking

SMMB has a regular schedule of rides in Southern MD, often at St. Mary's Lake. There are also great trails in Southern Prince George's County at Rosaryville SP, Cosca Regional Park, and Patuxent River Park, and in Charles Co. at Cedarville State Forest. SMART is interested in working for more localized mountain bike access points, particularly under our power line rights of way.

MORE Maryland Trails Guide
Mountain Bike Project Southern MD

American Chestnut Land Trust Hiking Trails 

The American Chestnut Land Trust maintains 22 miles of free hiking trails that are open year-round from dawn to dusk every day.

Preserving Southern MD's Wide "Amish" Road Shoulders

Many of Southern Maryland's roads, particularly in St. Mary's County, have wide shoulders, originally to help preserve access for horse-drawn buggies. However, in some places this extra shoulder space has been converted to right-hand turn lanes and acceleration/deceleration lanes for subdivisions, or pushed aside to make room for left-turn pockets. This loss of shoulder space reduces safe access for bike riders, hikers, and buggies alike. We should instead preserve and expand our unique "Amish" shoulders on Southern Maryland roads.

Southern MD Rail Trails

Plans should be accelerated to extend the Three Notch Trail westward to Charles County and further southward into the more populated areas of St. Mary's. We also need to design and build a spur to Leonardtown. In the longer run, the CSX rail line from Bowie to Upper Marlboro and extending into Charles County is now rarely used, since our power plants no longer use coal. We propose to convert the Prince George's County sector into a rail trail, and the Charles County sector into a combination rail trail and light rail commuter line toward Washington DC.

Connecting the East Coast Greenway

The Greenbelt East Trail would be a first for Prince George's County: a fully protected, on-road two-way shared use trail, which would connect the WB&A trail system toward Anne Arundel County and Baltimore with the Anacostia River Trail System toward DC and Northern Virginia. It would also provide a safe bike/walk route for NASA commuters and local businesses, schools, churches, and recreational facilities.

Founding Organizations and Volunteers

Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust, Leonardtown MD
American Chestnut Land Trust, Prince Frederick MD
Patuxent Adventure Center, Solomons and Leonardtown MD
Solomons Island Cycling, Solomons MD
Cycling Without Age, St. Mary's County MD (FB Link)
David M. Jenkins, Charles County, Chair of Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland's Bicycle Pedestrian Infrastructure Advisory Committee

Thanks to Proteus Bicycles of College Park for hosting SMARTA's startup website.