Built Environment

About This Workgroup

  • The Built Environment Workgroup (BEW) – working subcommittee of the Obesity Task Force
  • Active from January 2012 to October 2012
  • Final report with recommendations to the County Council was issued in October 2012.

Chairperson: Arden McClune, Harford County Parks and Recreation

Workgroup goals: According to locally gathered Community Health Assessment Project (CHAP) data, less than 1/3rd of Harford County residents get the recommended amount of exercise. Since much of our physical movement is determined by our build environment, the Obesity Task Force appointed a Built Environment workgroup to “identify ways to develop and implement more opportunities for walkable communities and recreational activities for all citizens throughout the County”. Put quiet simply, walking and cycling are some of the cheapest forms of exercise there are. Also, a more walkable and bikable community allows more people, both young and old, to move around and get to those places they need to access most.

Final recommendations were issued in the Obesity Task Force Final Report issued to the County Council on October 2, 2012.

Membership and minutes

Progress to date:

The Street Smart Campaign that was launched in Edgewood, Forest Hill, and Bel Air this fall was a resounding success. This responsible driving, walking, and cycling education and awareness campaign coincided with the start of the 2013-2014 school year. Campaign workers handed out rules for the road pamphlets, reflective zipper pulls, and these fantastic blinking reflector lights to help make pedestrians and cyclist more visible at night. The reflector lights were also a huge hit at Healthy Harford Day.

Here is an overview of the Harford County Street Smart Campaign.

Planning and Zoning developed and the County Council passed a Harford County Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan. This plan is one of the first Harford County planning documents that clearly includes the health of the community as a factor in decision making. In addition, bicycle tourism has the potential for huge economic impact for our county. The Oregon Bike Travel Study (PDF), reported that bicycle tourism injects a whopping $325 million into the Oregon economy. This study also found, among other things, that an overnight bike tourist had 19 times the economic impact of a day tourist (this should be a huge incentive for rural towns to make themselves bike-friendly). Towns along the Great Allegheny Passage in western Maryland have already realized the positive economic impact of bicycle tourism and it would be great to bring some of those dollars here to Harford County.

The Town of Bel Air is hard at work on their own Bike and Pedestrian Plan. The Town is striving to achieve a Bronze level status from the League of American Bicyclists. This could potentially bring more dollars to the community for continued bike and pedestrian friendly infrastructure, as well as help increase bicycle tourism and increase pedestrian traffic to downtown businesses. Check out page 9 in their newsletter for details on recent improvements and great things to come.

The Planning and Zoning Department issued a corridor study of Rt. 22 .The MD 22 Corridor Study, was “developed as a project by Harford County as a means to identify short, medium and long term solutions for the MD 22 Corridor from the intersection with MD 543 to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), providing for Complete Street solutions that emphasized the potential to allow users other means of transportation beyond the automobile”. (Note: we just heard that there will be bicycle lane striping along the new improvements proposed for Paradise Road in Aberdeen.)

The Department of Parks and Recreation has issued the 2013 Harford County Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan. This plan is well integrated with the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan and addresses issues like connectivity (being able to get around to places you frequent most – school, library, work) by bike and on foot, conservation of open space, access to recreational sites for all ages and abilities, and community gardens.