The bike lanes on Walther Avenue are almost ready to be extended north. With lanes in place between Moravia Road and Parkside Drive, this extension will make bike travel more viable. Unlike the adjacent bike lane project, the installation of these lanes is following a proper sequence of construction. The parking restrictions on Walther Avenue during the PM rush hour, have been removed for more than a month. With on-street parking in place, motorists have had a longer time to prepare for the new travel lane allowances. Next, the bike lane signs were installed to further reinforce the coming improvements. Now, those parking on Walther are reminded not to park there between December 9th and December 20th for the pavement marking installation. Looks like cyclists in the northeast are getting an early Christmas present, so long as the weather cooperates.
It’s a good thing the bike party doesn’t have a complex. Some participants were overheard saying “Oh look at the baby bike party” and “Look how small the bike party is.” The chiller temps, Thanksgiving holiday and ‘winter mode’ operating rules kept the crowds small. Decked out in their finest sleepwear, the bike party left St. Mary’s Park in clusters heading to Druid Hill for the first stop; through Remington and Mt. Vernon and around Union Square. Don’t let the organization fool ya: The smaller bike party operating as a group of vehicular cyclists works surprisingly well.
Bundle up in your PJs and ride the Baltimore Bike Party at St. Mary’s Park 7 pm. The bike party operates in “winter mode” from November thru March. Check out the revised rules on the website or just ride like a vehicular cyclist. Either way, be safe and have fun.
Trail Conditions Pending!
Thanksgiving Day 2013 Annual Patapsco Valley State Park Turkey Ride
Meet at the Park n Ride at the end of 195 or along S. Rolling Rd.
The Early Show:
7am SHARP – wheels rolling at a fuzzy 7:15-ish time. 90 minute tour at a pace that will leave you extra guilt-free after your third plate at dinner.
The Big Show:
Meet around 8:45 and plan for a group photo lineup at 9. Then this thing usually spills down the trail, into the woods, and off in several directions. Try to ride with some of the friends you have seen the least over the past year – it could be the most fun. This ride often splits into several smaller groups and ride times vary from an hour to three or four. It is all about the fun factor.
The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy is offering a hands-on trail maintenance workshop in Gunpowder Falls State Park on the proper techniques of rock armoring and rolling grade dips to prevent sediment erosion. This FREE event is made possible by a conservation grant from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a partner with Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (GVC), and by partnerships forged with Gunpowder Falls State Park and the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) experts in trail maintenance.
No experience is necessary! All are welcome; middle, high, and college level students, REI employees, community residents, scouts, and trail users who care about our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay! Community service hours available ages 12 and up.
Meet at 9:45 am at the Graham Equestrian Center parking lot. Take I-695 to exit 31 Harford Rd. North. Go about 2 miles past the Joppa Rd. intersection staying on Harford Rd. Pass Cub Hill Rd. on your left. The entry to Equestrian Center is about 100 yards on right after Cub Hill intersection. Drive to end and park in gravel lot.
Wear sturdy shoes, bring a hat, gloves, and clothes that can get dirty. Bring your own lunch and water.
Volunteers must register by Nov. 20 (space limited to 40 volunteers). To register or for questions, contact Peggy Perry, Program Director of Gunpowder Valley Conservancy at 410-692-0468 or 443-415-7969 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Just north of Baltimore, most of the trees have already lost their leaves. Pedaling the NCR/Torrey C. Brown Trail from Hunt Valley, you reach Pennsylvania about 20 miles up. There you can take BicyclePA Route J all the way to New York State.
A Giacommeti-like sculpture was added to the 32nd St circle on the Guilford Avenue bike boulevard. If this stays long enough, expect a Santa hat and some decorative lights. Again, a much better improvement over previous additions.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the honor of being one of the area’s leading unofficial bicycle advocates. From the inside, I was able to see the good, the bad and very ugly sides of advocacy. From this perspective, I’m offering a few words of advice to Baltimore area bicycle advocates. I trust these words are applicable to advocates beyond Baltimore.
1. Quit whining! Educate & Advocate! Advocating for better cycling conditions needs to been done as maturely as possible. State your position with an heir of confidence as a cyclist. Most of the time, the argument you are making is to non-cyclists who have no idea how susceptible we are to poor pavement conditions, vehicles passing too closely or seemingly constant harassment from motorists. When the argument is stated as if from a toddler, no one listens. Keep it brief; keep it professional and move on.
2. Get involved with your community association because you never know when ‘bike stuff’ is threatened in your neighborhood. The best way to find out is through your community association. The “CA” is the first line of communication with the municipal government. Being there gives you a seat at the table. Bike lanes have been removed, shot down or potentially removed because “no one rides a bike around here.” Community association meetings are also a good place to see your neighbors true colors. You will see who really supports biking and who wants to remove a bike lane to provide more parking.
3. Develop and cultivate relationships with elected officials and other key decision makers. No one can do more, more quickly for cyclists than those making laws and policies. One of the good things about living in a democracy is that we get to choose our rulers. If they fail us during their 2, 4 and 6 year job interviews, then they don’t get to rule us again. Their time in office is meant to meet the public’s need. The sector of the public that is closest with the elected official generally has their needs met more often. Therefore, call up your elected officials office and set up a meeting, sit down for a chat, take them out for lunch and give them your ask! What is it you want them to do? Provide more funding for bike infrastructure? Pass a law against harassing cyclists? Require more parking enforcement around the Inner Harbor? Mandate all traffic engineers ride bikes to work or between meetings? Whatever it is, get to know your council members, delegates, state senators, representatives, mayors, county executives, governors, president and ask them to do your bidding. Then follow-up on that request with another meeting, lunch, bike ride and hold them accountable. Prove your trustworthiness! Keep confident what’s said in confidence and post a campaign sign when the time is right. Only use the “Freedom of Information Act” as an absolute last resort. This might get what you need in the short term, but does more harm than good in the long run. Plus, if you have those relationships, you are less likely to need it.
4. What you say online can and will be used against you. We didn’t need Snowden to prove that there’s no such thing as online anonymity. Ranting on social networks is monitored by public officials. This should not come as a surprise. The more negativity distributed online, the less likely you are to get a meeting with decision makers and have your requests heard.
5. How your ride your bike can and will be used against you. Over the past five years, the most frequent argument I’ve heard against better cycling conditions is “Well, cyclists run red lights, so why do they need their own lane?” I could easily argue similar practices by motorists, but that would only inflame the situation. Don’t think that because you can make it across that intersection before that bus broadsides you that you’ll be ok. Just like cyclists don’t remember the humpteen cars that passed them responsibly without honking, non-riders only remember that rider who blew through a red light or the cyclist that cut them off in the crosswalk. If you must use the sidewalk for more than half a block, walk your bike!
6. With every little victory, be grateful! Gratitude is an underestimated virtue. Showing gratitude acknowledges that someone did something for you even when they didn’t have to. All great cycling meccas did not achieve their status overnight. Those cities became great for riding because the people that asked (see #2 above) were grateful for what was done, and subsequent asks were granted. The Baltimore City Department of Transportation should have an inbox full of emails from grateful cyclists that a curb cut was put in the Jones Falls Trail to drain the lake before winter set in. Sure, this minor 6″ concrete cut didn’t mean much to the construction manager issuing the work order or the crews doing the job, but it certainly means the world to us! So, be grateful and say “Thank You” to those that make your ride a little easier. Stop and say thanks to the officers ticketing drivers parked in bike lanes. Wave thanks to the bus driver that uses the left lane to pass you fully. When you’re thankful for the small stuff, you’re more likely to get bigger stuff.
The above recommendations will not solve every cycling ill. Many situations will require persistence but persistence builds character. There is a long road ahead for our community to reach its full cycling potential. Many great things can be accomplished if we as cyclists can responsibly promote our cause as the viable third mode.
It might not be an official ‘cyclovia’ but the Department of Public Works opens Loch Raven Drive to people every Sunday afternoon. Just by closing two gates, the drive becomes accessible to walkers, cyclists, dogwalkers, rollerbladers and skateboarders. While there is no immediate economic benefits for businesses along this cyclovia and most users must drive to the starting points, this open street does allow people to enjoy the autumn colors. This area also becomes a great place to teach kids how to ride. The wide pavement, absence of motor traffic and (mostly) gentle rolling hills create the ideal location for new cyclists.
Contributed by Nate Evans
Five and a half years ago, I started working my “dream job” as the bicycle & pedestrian planner for Baltimore City. Combining my lifelong passion for biking, Urban Planning degree and engineering background, I set out to comprehensively implement the 2006 Bicycle Master Plan. In that time, Baltimore has become an easier place to ride. By no means are we “Portland” or “Amsterdam”, but Baltimore has developed its own brand of bike culture which I’m proud to be a part of. Like other cities nationwide, our bike culture would have developed on its own, I’m just blessed to have been on the job when it happened.
Over these past few years:
- 6 new bike shops have opened in the city, with a few more just beyond the city line
- Bike commuting have boomed, especially in areas the city has made infrastructure improvements
- Critical Mass graduated into the Baltimore Bike Party (which has done more for biking in Baltimore than I ever could!)
- The Department of Transportation has created 100+ bike route miles and installed nearly 500 bike racks
- Baltimore has added several pro-bike laws including mandatory bike safe storm grates, bike parking & a Cyclists’ Bill of Rights
In the coming months, we’ll see
- the Downtown Bicycle Network with cycletracks and bike lanes in the city center
- Charm City Bikeshare
- An updated Bicycle Master Plan which includes more cycletracks, bike boulevards and recommended policies
- 500 more bike racks across the city
This Friday will be my last day with the City of Baltimore. I’ve taken a position with a local engineering firm where I will be the on-site consultant for Maryland State Highway Administration’s (SHA) Bicycle Retrofit program. One of my first projects will be to extend the Frederick Avenue bike lanes into the county. (We’ll be able to take down the “ENDS” sign in the above picture.) My office will still be in Baltimore which I will still bike to. I look forward to seeing Baltimore’s bike network and culture grow and I’m fortunate to have helped it along the way.
I would like to give a special “shout out” to a few folks:
- Jessica for allowing to do this
- Mark “You Good?” for the insight and shared dark humor and ”Cougar” Paul for this
- Nelson Jackson & crew for installing all those bike racks!
- Greg, Penny, Gary for handing me the torch (now, I’m handing it back)
- Tim, Adam & Ana for doing what you do the last Friday of every month!
One of “my duties” as bicycle planner was to accompany Mayor Sheila Dixon on her Friday morning bike rides around the city. While the group is smaller, we’re gonna take a spin this Friday at 7 am from City Hall. If you shake of the candy rush from the night before and ignore the pending weather, c’mon out for a ride.
Thanks Baltimore! It’s been great helping my hometown learn to ride again….