Longtime cycling advocate and Montgomery County native Kim Lamphier wasn’t alive to see more funding awarded to bike trails across the state.
But friends say she would be gratified by a Dec. 20 announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan, who pledged $3.8 million to the state’s Bikeways Network Program for the next two years.
“It was her heart and soul, getting that program funded,” said Kristen Harbeson, the political director for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “So the news that the governor has committed the money in her name — it’s really quite remarkable.”
Lamphier, who died in August after a year-long struggle with cancer, was described as the driving force behind a 2019 bill that required the governor to provide at least $3.8 million for the program in the state’s annual budget.
The fund provides grant money for bicycle infrastructure projects across the state, including bike lanes on public roadways and individual cycling paths.
Local governments apply for funding every year through the Maryland Department of Transportation, said Nate Evans, a multimodal transportation planner with the department. The grants cover research, design or construction of the projects.
The Maryland General Assembly passed the bill in April, but Hogan vetoed it on May 24.
In a letter to House Speaker Adrienne Jones, Hogan wrote that he objected to a section of the bill that required additional analysis of the Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan and more oversight by local jurisdictions.
His “objections to the legislation [did] not extend to the items related to the Bikeways program,” Hogan wrote. But the veto still ended the state’s requirement to provide annual funding for the projects.
In a December press release from the Maryland Department of Transportation, Hogan announced he would still fund the program in honor of Lamphier, described as a “tireless advocate for bike safety.”
Both Hogan and Greg Slater, the governor’s pick for next transportation secretary, pledged to allocate $3.8 million for the next two years in the state’s Consolidated Transportation Plan — a six-year agenda for transit projects.
“Sustainable funding levels” for the program will be included in future transportation plans, according to the release. Evans said Friday that the state pledged to provide money for the cycling program until at least 2025.
“That can support a bunch of smaller projects or a couple of really good big ones,” he said. Recent awardees have included the city of Takoma Park, which received $235,000 to design a new bikeway on New Hampshire Avenue, and Montgomery County, which received $300,000 for the final design of a shared-use path near Rock Creek Park.
Lamphier, who grew up in Montgomery County and settled in Catonsville, was an avid cyclist and longtime supporter of bike projects, Evans said. Some of her favorite places to ride were Rock Creek Park, the Anacostia River Trail, and along rural roads in Montgomery County.
Lamphier was known for her advocacy work in Annapolis, where she ended her career with two major legislative victories, Harbeson said. In addition to the bikeways bill, she worked with Trash Free Maryland to successfully lobby for the state’s ban on plastic foam in 2019. Harbeson said she continued to work in Annapolis even after 12 weeks of intensive chemotherapy and hip surgery that required her to relearn how to walk.
“I think that gives you a sense of the kind of force of will she had,” Harbeson said. “She scored these huge, huge victories after intensive medical treatment. She was just a remarkable person.”
Evans, who worked with Lamphier as the former executive director of Bike Maryland, described her as someone who remained positive even in the face of legislative setbacks.
“She was always cheerful,” he said. “Always positive. And she always had a way to make the best out of a bad situation.”
Funding the Bikeways Network Program was a way to carry on Lamphier’s legacy, he added. A total of 110 projects have been completed since the program began in 2011.