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Baltimore County Now - News You Can Use

Baltimore County Now

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.
Date: Sep 2014

National Park Service logoTeri Rising, Historic Preservation Planner
Department of Planning

Fall is a great time to get out and explore Baltimore County’s history.   Why not take some time to visit some of the well known and lesser known places that are a just a small part of the diverse network of sites administered and supported by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior, which was established in 1916.  These sites, trails and programs represent various historic themes from the Chesapeake Bay to General George Washington.  Together, they share national significance and provide opportunities for visitors to learn about Baltimore County’s role in our nation’s history.

Baltimore County is home to one of the most interesting  National Park sites  in the region.   Hampton National Historic Site on Hampton Lane just north of Towson is also a partner site on the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail.   The park comprises a well preserved collection of structures, including the grand Georgian mansion facing Hampton Lane, that tells the story of the Ridgely family and the people, both free and enslaved, that helped contribute to Baltimore County’s  domestic, agricultural and industrial history.   Tours are available of the buildings and gardens. photo of Hampton Mansion exterior

A number of National Historic Trails are located in Baltimore County for visitors to explore.  The Underground Railroad refers to the effort of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage.  The Network to Freedom National Historic Trail was established as part of the National Park Service to expand and support local efforts to coordinate education and preservation of sites that demonstrate the significance of the Underground Railroad not only in the eradication of slavery, but as a cornerstone of our national civil rights movement.   The privately owned “Gorsuch Tavern” on York Road in Sparks joins Hampton National Historic Site as part of The Network to Freedom National Historic Trail.  The tavern is connected to the trail by the theme of slaves, escape from slavery, and the effort of the owner to recapture his slaves by force, resulting in a celebrated  trial that inflamed the tensions already existing between north and south after the compromise of 1850.

Known as “The Route to Victory”, the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail runs from Rhode Island to Virginia.  It traces the route of American and French troops, led by General Washington and General Rochambeau who united against the British Army during the Yorktown Campaign.   The route follows the historic Philadelphia Road in Baltimore County,  which was one of the original post roads in the area and an important route for travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries.   

Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network  is a collection of National Historic Trails and partner sites that help visitors learn about the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and how they influenced where and how people lived in its watershed.   The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the first National Historic Water Trail, lets visitors experience and learn about the Chesapeake Bay through the routes and places associated with Smith’s explorations.  In Baltimore County, the trail includes the Gunpowder Falls State Park.  

Star Spangled historic trail logoAlso part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is a 560-mile land and water route that tells the story of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay region.   It connects historic sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and commemorates the events leading up to the Battle for Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem.  The trail includes several sites in Baltimore County including Todd’s Inheritance, Fort Howard Park, and  Battle Acre Park.  The Chesapeake Explorer App is a great tool which can help assist visitors with their exploration of these important places. 

The Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is also part of the Baltimore National Heritage Area, a collection of places in the Baltimore region that form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.   Led by the Baltimore Heritage Area Association, this national heritage area is dedicated to educating visitors about the people and places that helped make Baltimore such an important American city.  

photo of CHarles StreetAnother important component of the Baltimore National Heritage Area is the Charles Street National Scenic Byway, which is one of only four National Scenic Byways located in an urban area.  The byway follows Charles Street north from Baltimore City into Baltimore County where it features wooded natural beauty and several important historic sites like the Sheppard Pratt Gatehouse, one of only two National Historic Landmarks in Baltimore County.   Following the byway to its northern end will lead visitors to the Lutherville National Historic District, a village founded in 1852 by Lutheran ministers that is known for its excellent collection of Victorian homes. 


photo of bike rider in a bike lane

Sheldon Epstein, Chair, Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee

Cyclists and Motorists – Be Safe Out There

Over the past several weeks Department of Public Works contractors have been posting bike route signs and marking bike lanes in the Towson area to encourage us to leave our cars at home and try cycling. The Towson “Bike Beltway” Loop is only one of several new on-road bikeways that are being planned in Towson and other areas in the county.

With these improvements, Baltimore County is joining the growing number of cities, towns and counties throughout the US that are offering bicycling as an active transportation option. The county is making it easier for us to choose to bike, especially for those of us who live close to shopping, work, transit or parks. Cycling is an earth-friendly and healthy way to get around, as long as we do it safely. And it’s not just cyclists that may need a safety refresher. Many drivers who are not used to encountering bikes on the road could benefit from a few traffic safety reminders too.

So, let’s review a few of the rules of the road to help keep everyone safe and happy.

Bikes Belong.Some motorists think roadways are meant to be used only by cars, trucks and buses. But in fact, state law recognizes bicycles as vehicles, and allows them on almost all roadways. Those “Share the Road” signs you see occasionally are posted to alert drivers to expect to encounter cyclists on popular bike routes. But sharing the road is something that motorists and bicyclists should do wherever bicycles are permitted.

Obey the Rules of the Road.Since they are vehicles, bicyclists are expected to obey traffic safety laws. They are required to ride in the same direction as the motor traffic, and stop at stop signs and red traffic signals just as cars do.  Slower moving cyclists are to stay to the right hand side of the road to allow motorists to pass them more easily, a law that also applies to motor vehicles. Cyclists are allowed to move left when needed to protect their safety, pass slower moving bicyclists, or make left turns.  When passing a cyclist, a new law requires motorists to leave at least three feet of separation.

Be Careful in Intersections: Many traffic accidents (including those with bikes) happen at intersections. So, motorists--yield to cyclists as you would to any other vehicle. Be aware that it can be easy for you to underestimate how fast a bicycle is traveling. Experienced cyclists can be moving at 20-25 m.p.h. or more. And cyclists—always use appropriate hand signals before you turn so that your intentions are clear.

Wear the Helmet: Cyclists 16 and older are not required to wear a helmet, but it’s just a good safety practice. OK, they aren’t that fashionable, but accidents do happen, so protect the most important part of your body–your brain.

Avoid “Dooring”:Bicyclists riding adjacent to parked cars are especially leery of disembarking drivers opening their car doors in their paths. This can really hurt!  Both exiting drivers and passing cyclists need to pay special attention when cars are parked on the road.

Please Don’t Yell or Throw Things: Drivers can get frustrated when they get behind a slower moving bicycle. But please take a deep breath, and wait calmly until it is safe to pass. And cyclists–follow the rules, be courteous, and enjoy the ride safely!

For more safety tips, check out: http://mhso.mva.maryland.gov/SafetyPrograms/program_bicycle_safety.htm


photo of baled plasticRashida White
Public Information Specialist, Recycling Division

“What happens to my recyclables after they are collected?”  I get this question from time to time. Many people consider the process of recycling as simply putting materials out for collection and expecting them to “disappear.” However, collection is only the first step in the recycling process.

The second step in the recycling process involves processing the recyclables and turning them into marketable products. How does this happen? Well, once collected, recyclables are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF – pronounced murf), where recyclables are placed on a series of conveyor belts and sorted multiple ways.  Sorting involves screens, magnets, air currents and also manual picking. After the material is separated by type, it is then baled and prepared for pickup or shipped to manufacturers. 

Recyclables are considered commodities – goods that can be sold at fluctuating prices. So, after leaving the MRF, these materials will be sold to local, regional, national and international businesses to become raw materials for new products. The materials end up in a manufacturing facility, where they are used as a substitute for virgin materials (paper for wood, aluminum cans for bauxite ore, plastics for oil, etc.).

Depending on the type of material and facility, a variety of new products are made. For example, new cans can be made out of recycled aluminum; pulverized glass can be used for a variety of construction projects; steel cans can be made into new steel cans or other steel products such as vehicles, appliances and construction material; and plastics, depending on the grade, can be made into products such as clothing, car parts, pipes, pails, lumber and pallets.

This leads to the third and final step in the recycling process, which is purchasing recycled products. Buying recycled products is a critical step for the overall recycling process because it creates and sustains a market demand for recyclables. The more recycled products consumers buy, the more manufacturers create products made from recycled materials. Without an adequate demand for recycled products, recycling would be ineffective.

So, if you have ever wondered what happens to your recyclables after collection, you may be buying them, wearing them and even driving them!


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