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Laurel to get bike lanes

The city of Laurel is constructing a network of bike lanes spanning 23 streets, and the first three-mile stretch of which will open in the next few weeks, the Laurel Leader reports.

Bike lanes on one-way streets run on the left side of the street, to the right of a parking lane, to minimize the risk of bikers running into opening car doors, since many cars have only a driver, and no passengers.

Some other narrower streets don't have a dedicated bike, but officials will mark the pavement with an insignia encouraging bike use, including "sharrows," arrows that alert drivers that they should share the road. Those roads will be wide enough that cars in the suburban Prince George's municipality can pass bikers if they wish.

The paths will connect parks and scenic viewpoints, but also facilitate getting around town. Though the city is spread out and thus largely car-dependent, officials said design that encourages cycling and makes it safer could lure people out of their autos.

"When you build streets, you get more cars; when you build sidewalks you get more pedestrians; and when you build bike lanes, you get more bicyclists," a city engineer, Bryon White, told the Laurel Leader.

The lanes are intended for experienced cyclists, not children, who are allowed under Maryland law to peddle on sidewalks. Some lanes are strategically placed on Fourth Street, which runs parallel to the highly-trafficked Route 1, to enable people to commute on the along route, but on a quieter, safe roadway.

Fourth Street will undergo upgrades as part of the plan:

"It will have bike lanes on both sides and a center median lined with trees to create a calming boulevard effect," White said. "It will be a good-looking street."

By Luke Rosiak  | August 30, 2010; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Biking, Maryland, Traffic Safety  
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