It might seem counterproductive to help Baltimore go car-free by providing….cars. In the big picture, it makes sense. Cars are only used 10% of the time with the other 90% of the time taking up parking spaces. Since users only need cars 10% of the time, why not just share.
So what does this have to do with bikes? The new Zipcar spaces on Lexington St in front of City Hall have bike racks on the signposts. The current parking spots for Zipcar can be a hike from most residential areas, but not a bad bike ride. This is just another way how bikes are being incorportated into the city’s transportation system.
Saturday’s TriPark Festival was a great opportunity for the community to celebrate their parks, hear some live music and find out how to live a more healthy lifestyle! I was on-hand to promote sustainable, active transportation by bike. Recreation and Parks provided “the cruisers” for free use around Lake Montebello – a nice, easy, flat track for cyclists and pedestrians.
In the heat of the day, I embarked on bike ride through the area with 6 other participants. We started out to Stadium Place taking Lakeside, returning on 35th and circled the lake. After crossing Harford Rd, we dropped down to the Herring Run Trail where the temperatures also dropped a good 10 degrees. The casual speed of the ride allowed us to talk and get to know each other without getting winded. Reaching Belair Rd, we traced out tracks back to the festival.
On the way, I was talking with Steve who thought this ride would have 30 or so people. I thought the same, but I was glad to get a few beginners on two wheels and help others re-discover the joy of biking.
Thanks to Leanna Wetmore of the Belair-Edison Neighborhoods for the opportunity, Justin Isbell for covering the table and leading the ride home and to Pam Jackson for saving the tent for going in the drink.
The past few weeks I’ve received many suggestions for expanded bike parking at Penn Station. Two years ago, Amtrak announced the removal of the existing bike parking at Penn Station, which was then located beneath the canopy adjacent to the main entrance. The decision for the removal was based on new Department of Homeland Security regulations the prohibited bicycle parking within close proximity to train station.
Recognizing the bike parking’s removal would create a serious issue for area commuters, Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) took the lead in addressing the situation. Along with the Parking Authority of Baltimore City (PABC) and Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT), MTA purchased and installed new bike racks on city property managed by DOT & the Parking Authority. The result was additional, higher quality racks that didn’t scratch bikes and under closer surveillance, although not directly protected from the elements. These racks were installed in September of 2008.
Given the room for additional bikes and projection for an increase in bike traffic, I figured no new racks would be needed for at least 4-5 years. To help direct users to the bike racks in the garage, DOT installed signs adjacent to the main bike parking. Still, the demand percised. I checked it out for myself and here’s what I found: 30 bikes, 4 scooters & 1 carcass at the main parking! Another 9 bikes were at the garage parking! I was fairly stunned. Before the original racks were removed, parking averaged 20 bikes with 2 permanent carcasses. Could biking to Penn Station become this much more popular in less than 2 years?
Before yesterday’s Baltimore Bicycle Alliance meeting, I stopped to see the replenished bike lanes on University Blvd. After the road was resurfaced, the bike lanes returned, but not quite the way they should be. The construction project manager noticed immediately that the bike lanes were not installed per the plans and recommended I check it out. Sure enough!
Look at the above picture and notice the ample parking space for the truck and how the bike lane narrows down to 2 feet, 3 inches! Needless to say, the contractor will be correcting this mistake! Thanks to Mr. Fields for catching this!
This morning I reviewed some plans replacing a 30″ water main on the Hanover St. bridge over the Patapsco. The project engineers included a bike/pedestrian maintenance of traffic plan that not only signed a detour for the Gwynns Falls Trail, but included a temporary bike lane on the bridge!
Bike awareness is defnitely taking hold when we have construction managers catching errors in bike lanes and engineers planning ahead without even being asked!
Yesterday, I gave a presentation to the Dept. of Transportation explaining the bike boulevard concept and how it can be applied to Baltimore. A bike boulevard is a low volume, low speed road usually in a residential area where bike thru-traffic is given priority. Originating in Holland and americanized in Portland and Berkeley, instituting bike boulevards boosts bike traffic by providing safe corridors for cyclists with little roadway experience.
Bike boulevards are not a traditional bike lane with two lines, but rather an entire roadway with traffic calming applications, such as bike-friendly speed humps or cushions and mini-circles. Traffic diverters like cut-thru medians and contraflow allowance create easier passage for bikes while reducing vehicular use.
Guilford Avenue (between University Pkwy and Mt. Royal Ave) will be the city’s first bike boulevard. This stretch of road was selected due to its residential nature, high bicycle traffic and the existing cut-thru at the North Avenue (school parking lot & ramps with pedestrian signal across North Ave). Improvements to Guilford will include striping the parking lanes & centerline, wayfinding signs, and speed cushions. Select stop signs will be “turned” giving bikes on Guilford priority.
For more information, DOT & Toole Design Group will present this bike bouevard concept to the community on Wednesday, June 30th, 6:30 pm at Johns Hopkins Univerity (Levering Hall’s Sherwood Room).
I’m looking at other streets that would make good bike boulevards. If you know a good candidate, please comment below
I headed to REI yesterday to get a much-needed pair of new sandals and drop off some bike maps. A banner over the entrance announced BIKES FOR THE WORLD was going to be here today gathering unused bikes and sending them to the developing countries. I talked with Janet Brown, who received the first bike when she was still setting up the information table. Janet was helping collect bikes that would be sent oversees where they would be used to help provide inexpensive transportation, like a global Velocipede.
Discovering programs like this show that there is a bike movement in and around Baltimore. Thanks Janet helping get more people on bikes!
The Baltimore Bicycle Alliance has 2 events next week
The BBA Development Committee meets Tuesday, June 22 (6:30 pm) at the Knott Foundation (3904 Hickory Ave in Hampden) to firm up the vision and organization of the Alliance
On Thursday, June 24 BBA’s hosting a fundraising Happy Hour at Shucker’s in Fells Pt (1629 Thames St) from 6pm – 8pm
Come celebrate Green in Northeast Baltimore at the First Annual Tri-Parks Festival
Saturday, June 26th at Lake Montebello and Herring Run Park, Noon – 5pm
In addition to all day free family fun, hikes, whiffleball, basketball, live music, and Kiddie Korner will be an 8 mile bike tour through Lauraville, Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello and Belair-Edison starting from the Lake at 1pm.
Another group of cyclists who made Tour dem Parks a group ride is the Baltimore Metro Wheelers Cycling Club. They have a weekly Wednesday ride on the BWI Trail starting from the Dixon Observation Park at 6pm.
The BALTIMORE BIKE MAP has been available to the public for one month. While DOT has received a great deal of positive feedback on the map, it’s time to tell us what you REALLY think.
The map is now available online where you can comment on what routes are good, what roads need to be re-evaluated for bikes and what lesser known areas need to be highlighted.
These comments will be incorporated into the next version of the map!
Thanks for your input!