Bikes to start cross­ing Hatem Fri­day

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ ce­cil­whig. com

— Fri­day morn­ing marks the be­gin­ning of a new era as bi­cy­cles be­gin shar­ing the Thomas J. Hatem Me­mo­rial Bridge with thou­sands of cars, trucks and mo­tor­cy­cles each day.

The Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­ity an­nounced in February that peo­ple- pow­ered trans­porta­tion would be al­lowed to cross the 1.3- mile span over the Susque­hanna River on Route 40 start­ing at 9 a. m. July 1. Ac­cord­ing to the East Coast Green­way Al­liance, the Susque­hanna River was the miss­ing link in the trails that run from Maine to Florida.

Andy Hamil­ton, mid- At­lantic co­or­di­na­tor for the al­liance, said bik­ers from the ca­sual to the hard­core are ex­cited about the open­ing of the bridge. Hamil­ton said Tues­day that at least two clubs — one from Bel Air and one from Ne­wark, Del. — have plans to make the cross­ing on this in­au­gu­ral week­end.

Count Hamil­ton among those who will also make the trip

“We are go­ing to cel­e­brate it,” he said Tues­day. “But we’ll also be help­ing to ed­u­cate the peo­ple and as­sist in the safest cross­ing for them.”

MDTA has in­stalled sig­nage and light­ing to keep the mo­tor­ized and non- mo­tor­ized in­formed. This in­cludes pedes­trian cross­walk- style but­tons bik­ers will press be­fore rid­ing onto the Hatem Bridge. That but­ton lights a beacon to flash up to 15 min­utes. John Sales, MDTA spokesman, said that’s how long it has been an­tic­i­pated it would take a biker to pedal the length of the bridge.

For this first week­end — a hol­i­day week­end to boot — bikes will be al­lowed to cross from 9 a. m. to 3 p. m. Fri­day. Bikes will be al­lowed on the bridge Satur­day from dawn un­til 10

PER­RYVILLE

a. m. and then again from 4 p. m. un­til dusk. Sun­day’s planned schedule is from dawn un­til noon and again from 6 p. m. un­til dusk. Bik­ers can be on the bridge any time from dawn un­til dusk on the Fourth of July

Any li­censed driver 16 or older can ride a bi­cy­cle across the Hatem.

Bik­ers will be ex­pected to pay the $ 8 east­bound toll and E- ZPass can be used, Sales said. At the Per­ryville town meet­ing ear­lier this month, Deb Sharp­less, MDTA deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said it would be the job of law en­force­ment to make sure no bike rid­ers run the tolls.

“There may be chal­lenges with col­lect­ing tolls with bi­cy­cles,” she said at the June 7 meet­ing, ad­ding it would be an honor sys­tem. “It’s part of our learn­ing process.”

Mean­while, driv­ers are con­cerned about shar­ing the road with the slower ve­hi­cles in an en­closed space. The two lanes in each di­rec­tion are hedged in with con­crete bar­rier wall.

Per­ryville Com­mis­sioner Robert Ashby, a pro­fes­sional truck driver, wor­ried about driv­ers nav­i­gat­ing around bikes safely. Per­ryville res­i­dent Matt Roath wor­ried that the avail­abil­ity of the bridge would open doors to an in­crease in sui­cides.

Hamil­ton called the Hatem Bridge a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive to the Conowingo Dam, which is also avail­able to bi­cy­cles. Pedes­tri­ans may also walk across the Conowingo Dam.

“It’s much less safe for all users there,” he said of the sin­gle lane in each di­rec­tion on the Route 1 cross­ing.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Bi­cy­clists will be al­lowed to cross the Hatem Bridge start­ing at 9 a.m. Fri­day un­der a new state plan.

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