First bi­cy­clists cross the Hatem Bridge

Groups con­verge for in­au­gu­ral ride un­der new pol­icy

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— In the first hour of bi­cy­cles be­ing al­lowed to cross the Thomas J. Hatem Me­mo­rial Bridge, as many as a dozen made the trip Fri­day morn­ing.

“I was hop­ing for years to get this bridge open to bi­cy­clists,” said Michael Jack­son, for­mer di­rec­tor and bi­cy­cle and pedes­trian ac­cess for the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity.

Jack­son, from Sil­ver Spring, was among a group that started at Perryville and crossed over the 1.3-mile bridge to Havre de Grace. Upon re­turn­ing to the toll plaza and pay­ing the $8 toll, Jack­son said it was an en­joy­able ride.

“It was cool. The breeze was nice,” he said, not­ing that un­like trav­el­ing in a car, the pace was ob­vi­ously slower. “You can re­ally check out the sur­round­ings.”

Chris Lano, a mem­ber of the White Clay (Del.) Bi­cy­cle Club, also en­joyed the cross­ing.

“Most driv­ers — I’d say 97 per­cent — were cau­tious about the cy­clists,” the Bear, Del., res­i­dent said, not­ing that one driver did cross into the right lane and barely missed him though.

PERRYVILLE

MDTA an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary that it would al­low bi­cy­cles to use the Hatem Bridge to cross the Susque­hanna River. That de­ci­sion was met with con­cern by of­fi­cials from Perryville and Ce­cil County, but Jack­son said that al­low­ing bi­cy­cles on the Route 40 span is much safer pas­sage than the Conowingo Dam on Route 1.

“You don’t have the steep in­clines,” he said, adding the dam only has one lane in each di­rec­tion.

This closes a gap in the 2,900mile East Coast Green­way Trail, which runs from Maine to Florida. This was the only spot in the trail where a bike could not travel.

Lt. Ver­lon Mor­row, com­man­der of the MDTA po­lice de­tach­ment at the Hatem Bridge, said his of­fi­cers would be en­forc­ing the laws for both bikes and mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cles start­ing this hol­i­day week­end.

Dozens of bi­cy­clists lead by the East Coast Green­way Al­liance con­verged in Perryville in Oc­to­ber 2014 to urge Mary­land and fed­eral trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials to add a pedes­trian and bi­cy­cle el­e­ment to any bridge de­sign be­ing con­sid­ered for the re­place­ment of the cur­rent Am­trak bridge.

Andy Hamil­ton, mid-At­lantic re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the al­liance, who was among the rid­ers in 2014, wel­comed the an­nounce­ment by MDTA in Fe­bru­ary, and was in Perryville on Fri­day for the in­au­gu­ral ride.

As he mounted his bi­cy­cle from a booth set up by the al­liance, Hamil­ton said aloud, “Did you ever think this day would come?” Jack­son agreed. “It’s a thrill,” he said, adding that rid­ing a bi­cy­cle any­where is a man­aged risk, but he en­cour­aged peo­ple to see the big­ger pic­ture.

“We ex­pect this will help lo­cal busi­nesses,” he said. “Bi­cy­clists get hun­gry and thirsty too.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

A group that started on the Perryville side of the Hatem Bridge re­turn from Havre de Grace to pay the toll.

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