Portland, Oregon did not become the bicycle Mecca it is overnight. While the city did have some of the first Complete Streets policies in place since the 70s and a robust cycling community, it wasn’t until the early 90s that bike culture really blossomed.
The reasons for the bikesplosion were political support in City Commissioner, now Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the steadfast encouragement of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Mia Birk. Mia was one of the first bicycle coordinator’s in the country and helped move Portland ahead of the curve. Joyride is Mia’s accounts of growing up in car-centric Texas, discovering the life changing benefits of biking in college and pushing the envelope for bikes as coordinator in Portland.
This book has been on my list for awhile. Once I whittled my list down, it took me no time at all to blast through it! A totally enjoyable read about the obstacles and solutions for creating innovative bike infrastructure and encourging more people to get out and ride. Obviously, I related to many of the stories with the book – fun rides, community opposition and bureaucratic change.
There are many differences between B’more and Portland when it comes to bicycling. Don’t read this book and think how much better Portland is (even though it is). Read it and see that progress towards becoming a bike-conscious community is a path both cities are on. The pace might be different, but the challenges and goals are the same.
I would like to thank Baltimore Bicycle Works for their contributions in putting together the Bike Month events! Here’s a special message from the crew at BBW:
Baltimore Bicycle Works is proud to sponsor the 2011 Bike Month Challenge. We applaud all the participants for their enthusiasm and dedication to helping Baltimore become a more bike friendly city. When we opened our shop just over 2 years ago, we were excited about the potential for making Baltimore a premiere cycling city, but the rate of growth and the level of excitement among the citizens of Baltimore has been nothing short of amazing.
Much like the cycling community, Baltimore Bicycle Works has continued to grow and adapt over the these last few years. We are always looking for new products that will best serve the needs of our customers. From the competitive road cyclist to the everyday commuter and everything in between, our shop is stocked with what you need to start riding and keep riding all year long. We carry bikes from Jamis, Orbea, Civia, Surly, and Brompton. For detailed list of our products and services, visit www.BaltimoreBicycleWorks.com
At Baltimore Bicycle Works, you can always expect to find friendly, knowledgeable service without the typical “bike shop attitude”. We may be experts now, but we all started as novice cyclists at one time, and we have not forgotten what it is like to be shopping for your first bike. We believe our motto, “you ride, we do the rest”, says it all. From shopping for a new suspension fork to building the custom wheel set of your dreams, we are here for you. Keep riding Baltimore!
Overall, Michael Byrne writes an fairly accurate account of what biking is all about in Baltimore. I particurlary enjoyed his take on bikeshare and its potential in our fair city. There are a few items from the articles that need clarification:
1. Counting bikes is much more fun that portrayed in the article. Most volunteers are acknowleged for their efforts by cyclists on their commute. This brief but important aspect of bike counts contributes to the edification of the bike community in Balitmore. Counting bikes “one by one” will become counting bikes “two by two” and so forth, which is far from boring…if you really dig bikes.
2. Again, per the Nathan Krasnopoler accident: The Baltimore Police Department was misquoted by several news outlets that have yet to issue a retraction or correction. The phrase “No charges will be pressed…”should have been followed by “at this time” Few things are more frustrating than being misquoted, which happens to me frequently. If you would like to assist the BPD in making B’more bike-friendly, volunteer to ride your bike in a public service announcement & training video.
3. The “outcry” from cycling advocates was definitely not widespread. A few letters to editors, blog posts or emails to me does not constitute bike advocacy. “Complaining because you care” also does not constitute advocacy. Seeking an audience with decision makers to express concerns and offer assistance in creating a safer environment is advocacy.
Where The Bike Lane Ends
4. In recent years, DOT installed over 22 miles of bike lanes & sharrows with Operation Orange Cone, the city’s street resurfacing program. While this does get more bikes lanes on the ground, such as those on Gwynn Oak, it does create abrupt ends. Extending those bike lanes to a reasonable end or transition has limitations due to the physical ‘limit of work’ under the construction contract. Signing is not included in resurfacing projects as well, which creates another limitation. Bike lanes will continue to be installed with Operation Orange Cone, although site selection will be more thoroughly reviewed.
5. The “bombed-out” section of Frederick Road at Caton Avenue is soon to be resurfaced. Given the 2 bridges at this intersection makes for some more detailed engineering than a simple “shave & pave.”
6. One way streets do make it difficult to create a well connected bike network, but at least cyclists can access the occasional contraflow bike lane, or dismount and walk a couple blocks. One way streets have even greater negative impacts on overall traffic flow, community and commerce access. Mark Brown goes into greater detail on his blog.
7. One omission I noticed was nowhere in these articles did it mention that the Department of Transportation installed a free bike rack outside City Paper’s office. Where’s the love?
Don’t worry, I’m not taking these articles personally. I do take pride in my job by helping get more bike lanes in (and around) Baltimore. I’m always open to suggestions to make this city better for you, the cyclists and future cyclists. I offer these points as clarification on why things are the way they are and how it could be better…together.
Why is it every time I go down the ocean, I see cool and unique bikes? Oh yeah, cuz its flat, easy to ride and pretty laid back.
On our way down to Chincoteague, we took Route 12 along the backroads of the Eastern Shore. Passing through Stockton, MD I saw this bike sitting unlocked against a post accepting time have its way with it. The bike was slowly rusting and collecting thatch in its baskets. Birds were probably nesting here on their migratory routes.
While my brother gave us a guided tour of the backroads of Chincoteague, we stopped at a park where I saw this bike. Sure, nothing fancy, a standard Panama Jack beach cruiser, but the bottle opener on the fork sold me.
For those looking for a more contraversial blog post, stay tuned….and Happy Easter!
The Baltimore Police Department will begin production of two videos within the coming weeks focused on bike safety. One video will be used to train police officers on cyclist interaction, safety and accident reporting. The other video will be a public service announcement to air locally informing motorists of their legal obligations in regards to sharing the road with bikes.
The police department is asking for volunteer cyclists to ‘act’ in both these videos. Volunteers are asked to simply ride a bike for the videos. No speaking is required and filming should only take an hour or two.
If you’re interested, please send me an email at email@example.com
Last May, the Department of Transportation released the city’s first bike map which highlighted bikeable routes, rules of the road, securing your bike and using the bus racks. 12,000 maps were printed on high-gloss paper for slight weather-resistance and provided free to the public from DOT’s Planning Division and local bike shops. Baltimore’s Bike Map is now being used as a template for other bike maps across Maryland and the U.S.
Over the past week, with more people out riding, requests for more maps has increased. Today, the last of the first printing were given away! 12,000 maps in 12 months!
So, what’s next?
- The Spanish version of the bike map is going through some final edits and will be available online when complete.
- If you don’t have a bike map, you can download a pdf copy here. (The previously dead link has been restored)
- Given the changes in Baltimore’s bike infrastructure, both existing and proposed, the 2nd version of the map will include revised routes.
- Route comments from the public are highly encouraged online at the ROUTE MAP tab at the top of the blog.
- There is no anticipated print date for the 2nd version. (It’s still a little early in the process)
Thanks to everyone who helped get the bike maps out to area cyclists! Special thanks to Victor Miranda, Paula Simon & Toole Design Group for putting together such a great bike map!
Another gorgeous spring day and what made it even better was that I cashed in a furlough! Out of the office and on a field trip to the zoo, where I saw more kids foolishly “riding” the Bicycle bike racks at the main entrance.
This has been a busy week for bike news in Maryland:
First, the Maryland General Assembly closed out its 2011 legislative session with a major win for ALL road users, not just cyclists and pedestrians. Motorists who take a life while driving may now be face criminal negligence charges. This misdemeanor charge, which carries a 3 year imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, closes a gap in the legal system between negligent driving and felony automotive manslaughter. While this helps provide a greater sense of justice, it does nothing for reducing these types of accidents before they happen. No price can be put a price on a human life!
In similar news, charges were filed against the driver who struck Nathan Krasnopoler while he was riding in the W. University Pkwy bike lane. The driver faces negligent driving and failure to yield right-of-way to a bicyclist in a designated bike lane. Nathan is not expected to recover from injuries sustained in the collision.
In much lighter news, Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie went for a bike ride while in New York City to face the Yankees. Guthrie was at the MLB Fan Cave when he spied a bike and had to take it for a spin over to Union Square. Guthrie is known to bike to Camden Yards for his commute and has promoted Bike to Work Day in recent years. In the story by Thomas Boorstien, Guthrie compares NYC traffic to B’more and gives us a glimpse to his riding style:
“It’s not as crazy,” Guthrie said of the Baltimore traffic. “For the most part, I’m on sidewalks or bike paths where I am. It’s downtown — they’ve done a nice job with the Inner Harbor. So I don’t run across too many cars. Right here, it’s all cars, trucks and taxis driving around.“
Yesterday’s absolutely gorgeous weather brought out the bike traffic that we know is increasing in Baltimore. Yeah, but how do we know for sure? We know because we count ‘em!
As part of the National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation Project, the 2nd bike counts of 2011 take place Tuesday, May 10th, Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th. We’ll need more BIKE TRAFFIC VERIFIERS than ever to confirm cyclists on the city’s expanding bike network. We’ll be counting bikes at the usual:
- Falls & Maryland
- Guilford & Mt. Royal
- Aliceanna & Boston
- Frederick & The Gwynns Falls Trail
With new locations at
- Fleet & President
- Frederick & Athol
- St. Paul & Centre
- Keswick & Wyman Park
- & the bike racks at Penn Station
The new locations are based on suggestions from Baltimore’s bike community (that means ‘you’)!
So click the BIKE COUNTS SIGN-UP page at the top of the blog and I’ll put together the schedule for everyone. Bike traffic verifiers EARN TEN (10) POINTS in the Bike Month Challenge EVERY TIME YOU COUNT! (Pictures encouraged, of course)
As the 2010 Census results remind us that Baltimore’s population decline has not ended, some better news can be found in local numbers. One major car dealership also moved from the city to the suburbs and another closed its doors.
In 2000, there were only two bike shops in Baltimore. Since then four additional bike shops and one bike co-op have opened. With the four new bike shops, approximately 25 new jobs were created. This month, another bike store opens, with another later this year. In addition to creating jobs, these shops have offered community events including free bike rides and the revival of the Charm City Cyclocross.
In addition to bike retailers & mechanics, Baltimore is also home of several handcrafted bicycle manufacturers.
In January, a report was released indicating that more jobs were created per million dollars spent with bicycle projects than reconstruction or resurfacing projects. Since the Bicycle Master Plan was adopted in 2006, 77 miles of bike lanes and facilities (and over 300 bike racks) have been added to city streets, all for less than $1 million dollars. That’s a serious return on investment considering local bike traffic has increased over 200% since 2000 and 35% within the last year. If vehicular traffic increased that much, would we celebrate it?
Bike culture and the economics thereof are thrieving in Baltimore. The numbers prove it!
Thanks to Sam Greenspan at WYPR for the report!
Follow Elly Blue’s series “How Bicycling Will Save The Economy” on Grist.org
I’d like to thank Dan, Vanessa & the crew for having me on the show Tuesday. Live radio can be interesting, especially when you’re behind the mic, fielding calls and emails from a world of people that are passionate about getting more bikes off the road.
In between the live chaos, we had a chance to chat about how easy it would be for Dan to ride his bike to work. (He did ask the question “What would it take to bike commute?” on the air, but the answer did no justice) While he didn’t tell me what part of town he lived, here are a few reasons why Dan should try riding:
- WYPR’s studio is on the 2200 block of Charles St. Sure, cyclists either love or hate Charles St, but there will be (and pretty much is already) a bike boulevard 3 blocks over on Guilford and heavily biked Maryland Ave out the back door. Take 22nd west and 23rd east to get the studio no problem.
- Dan can bring his bike inside. There was room for Fern & I to park our bikes just inside the front lobby
- WYPR HAS A SHOWER!!!! The shower’s in a private unisex bathroom so anyone can use. If that isn’t reason enough, I don’t know what is.
- Dan’s on the radio so people can’t see what he’s wearing, or if he’s sweating from the ride or wet from the rain. He could be wearing pink fluffy bunny pajamas on the air and no one would be the wiser. An avid cyclist, Rod Daniels of WBAL wears lycra biking shorts while on the air during the summer. We just can’t see his full attire when he’s sitting behind the desk.
- No Dan wasn’t wearing pajamas on Tuesday. He was respectfully dressed in jeans, button down, tie & jacket. He could leave a set of ties and jackets at the office (and maybe a few shirts) and just wear the jeans and t-shirt on his ride in.
- Take a spin on a Saturday morning when there isn’t as much traffic. I can help plan your route and guide your ride. Get some friends to join us and make biking the social thing that it is. Try it, you just might like it! You might even be tempted to register for Bike To Work Day or Bike Month
So what’dya say? Wanna go for a bike ride? It’s not just for yuppies ya know.
Thanks to WYPR for the bikesposure and for being a bike-friendly studio!