By Sandra Zunino
When Easton resident Judy Grillo had a close call with a motorist while bicycling through town, she decided it was time to take action. An avid cyclist with a background in advocacy work, Judy gathered a few like-minded individuals and launched BikeWalkTalbot.
BikeWalkTalbot is an advocacy organization supporting a bicycle-friendly and walkable Talbot County through education, encouragement, and fostering a safe bicycling and pedestrian community. While the organization started only last December, Judy says, “I feel like we’ve hit the ground running.”
Noticing that a growing Talbot County needed a plan to address bicycle and pedestrian safety was just the beginning. Judy approached the Town of Easton Planning and Zoning Department with her concerns and received a favorable response. “They said they would do whatever they could but required more resources,” she said.
Volunteering her services for the past four months, Judy has been working with Easton Planning and Zoning to compose a 30-page comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan. “We would like to enhance the safety and also educate and promote awareness so we can all safely coexist on the roads,” she says.
The plan is organized based on five Es, Judy explains. “That’s kind of the standard that is used nationally and in different places in Europe.”
The first E stands for education, creating public information programs and materials for bicyclists, pedestrian and motorist. The next is encouragement, which develops incentives to entice people to used biking and walking as an alternative to driving. Engineering comprises the standards and design guidelines for building infrastructure to support bicycling and pedestrian activities. Enforcement works with police and other parties to ensure everyone is aware of safety rules for bicyclists, pedestrian and motorist. Evaluation provides measurement tools to assess how well the plan is working.
In addition to relying on 20 years of cycling experience to put the plan together, Judy is a citizen’s representative of the Maryland Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. This 21-member committee appointed by the Governor advises state government agencies on issues directly related to bicycling and pedestrian activity including funding, public awareness, safety and education.
Judy says she received much support from members of that committee to write the plan. She also acknowledges assistance from bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in other Maryland towns who presented examples of their plans.
Additionally, Director of Talbot County Parks and Recreation Rick Towle shared his work on bicycle and pedestrian activities. Compared to her advocacy work in the past, Judy says she is amazed at the reception she has received from all levels of the community from the town council to the county levels.
BikeWalkTalbot sponsors recreational bike rides every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. The Wednesday evening rides are designed for individuals of all skill levels and depart from Easton’s Bike Doctor. Recently added, women’s only bike rides will begin Monday, June 15 at 6:00 p.m. and continue through the fall season.
Judy says the women’s rides are to inspire more women to come out and enjoy cycling with a group. “I enjoy riding for simply the recreation and health aspects,” says Judy, “I would like to get people out of their cars and thinking about biking and walking whenever it is convenient.”
For more information about the recreational bike rides call 410-820-9107. To get involved with BikeWalkTalbot, call 410-690-4567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.