“Just push the button,” Nestor Flores said as he advised trail users to use a new signal system to safely cross Robinson Road.
Flores, chief engineer of the traffic division at the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works (DPW), has spent a considerable amount of time planning and installing the system with help from the local community.
A recent study by the DPW provides information that trail users are not using the system often enough and drivers are confused by it. There have been 11 crashes (three including bikes), multiple near-misses, and violations of bicyclists ignoring stop signs.
“Unfortunately, trail users have not gotten into the habit of using the signal’s system, and drivers are unsure about how to react when they see people at the intersection,” Flores said. “There are sensors and cameras that observe the use of [the] system. This information helps tweak the system to be more effective, if necessary.”
The flashing yellow signal alerts drivers as they approach the crossing; motorists have the right-of-way during this phase of the signal’s operation. When trail users press the signal button, the light will switch to a solid yellow to prepare drivers to stop at the designated line before the crosswalk. When pedestrians see the flashing walk symbol, it is safe to cross while drivers have a solid red light.
Flores added that trail users can expect a 12-second minimum wait to cross, with up to a 57-second wait if traffic is heavy.
“Using the button helps everyone navigate the intersection in the safest manner,” said Jon Korin, a Severna Park resident who is involved in the signal project as chair for the Anne Arundel County Bicycle Advisory Commission and president of Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, or Bike AAA.
Bike AAA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for bike safety and accessibility for adults and children of all ages, including those with disabilities.
“We are fortunate to have the 13-mile B&A Trail; it is one of the most popular in the county and region,” Korin remarked.
James and Rhonda Thomas, and their grandson Gabe, share Korin’s assessment of the trail system. Members of the family are experienced pleasure cyclists who have ridden throughout Holland and on several trails stateside. The Thomas family uses the trail several times a week but less on winter days when the wind chill is harsh.
“People are lucky to have such an extensive and well-cared-for trail,” James Thomas said. “It’s one of the best in the country.”
The family praised the installation of the new signal system.
“The light is very helpful and catches the attention of the driver,” James Thomas said.
Gabe Thomas noted there’s more of a consequence for a bicyclist who doesn’t stop than for a driver of a car.
“You’re just as dead if you’re wrong,” James Thomas remarked.
Jean Albaug is frequently reclined in her recumbent bicycle on the trail and uses the signal at Robinson Road. She also has concerns about the Jones Station Road crossing.
“It is also a very dangerous spot because people don’t pay attention to who has the right of way at the four-way stop,” Albaug said. “One time, I signaled that it was my turn to cross, and a pickup truck driver deliberately gunned his engine and sped across the intersection as if to hit me.”
Korin’s volunteer roles emphasize the need for educating cyclists and motorists on how to coexist safely on shared routes.
“There are other intersection projects along the bike trail that will be addressed — Old County Road with Route 648 and Evergreen Road, Whites Road and Jones Station Road,” Korin said.
Jones Station Road will eventually become busier once the B&A Trail connects to the Broadneck Trail. Once fully completed, the Broadneck portion will allow riders to reach its end at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.
Korin hopes residents will take part in the annual Lifeline 100 community bicycle event on October 1 at Kinder Farm Park.
“It is an inclusive event for riders of all ages, including ones with disabilities and special needs,” Korin said.
The event will feature fun activities and rides for families. For more experienced riders, there are scenic 65- and 100-mile county tours with water views and historic sites, and 15- and 30-mile flat and paved trail rides. Lifeline 100 started in 2014, and it has raised more than $250,000 for charity. More information is available at www.lifeline100.com.