by Patrick McMahon
This past Saturday, I had a glimpse into a new role for bicycling in Baltimore. I was part of a 9-mile bike ride led by Odette Ramos, a candidate for City Council, through the 12th District. The ride showed how effective a casual bike ride is for getting around the City and connecting with its residents. Along the way we had several stops to talk about Odette’s experience, various community issues, and the existence of or need for bicycling facilities. The impending hurricane kept all but the most committed folks from attending, but even with storm clouds overhead we had a great ride and accomplished a lot, talking while we rode about what we saw and issues at stake in this year’s elections.
The ride started and ended in Collington Square Park, taking Preston Street, Caroline, and McElderry through the area around EBDI and the Johns Hopkins campus, stopping at the corner of Fayette & Broadway. The group then went down Broadway to Gough, Central, and Lombard to arrive in Albemarle Square. The next step was north on President, Fallsway, and Guilford to the Greenmount West neighborhood. The group continued on Lanvale, Charles, 25th, Huntington, 27th, and St. Paul to the Village Learning Place in Charles Village. Finally we returned to Collington Square via Guilford and Biddle. At each stop along the way we talked about local issues. In Greenmount West this included the new City Arts building, the future home to the Baltimore Design School in the Lebow building, the potential for transit-oriented development, and how vacant properties are now being put to good use through the receivership process.
Over the course of two hours we had the chance to ride along the new green bike lanes on President Street, the contraflow lane on Lanvale Street, the future Guilford Avenue Bike Boulevard, portions of the Southeast Baltimore Bike Plan, and many more sharrows and bike lanes. At the same time, we also saw and photographed the license plates of two vehicles blocking the bike lanes on Central Avenue and discussed misplaced sharrows along Fallsway and Guilford.
Maybe most importantly, the ride was a direct effort to engage the cycling community. Rarely does the cycling community get this level of attention from a politician in Baltimore and it’s great to see that kind of thinking from a new political candidate. We need to highlight to our elected officials that bicycling is a strategy for improving health, affordability, mobility, and creating community. By being supportive of cycling, candidates can show their support for a more sustainable future, and we need to make sure we support those types of candidates and continue to push our elected officials about our needs and desires for a more bikeable Baltimore. For all of the wonderful work that Nate does, it is the elected officials that have the authority to make sure things get done and funded.
I hope we will see more of these types of rides around the City, by other elected officials and as a part of the City’s process to improve the bikeability of our City’s streets by getting out on the streets, seeing the conditions on the ground and interacting with cyclists, pedestrians, and other community members.
Patrick McMahon is a transportation and community development planner, a resident of the Abell neighborhood, a long-time bike commuter, a member of the Baltimore City Commission on Sustainability, and the transportation chair for the Greater Baltimore Group of the Sierra Club.
A local project on passing distances between cars and bikes is starting up. The study will look at passing distances on roads with and without bike lanes in Baltimore, and the results will be used to inform future bike lane construction.
2-3 participants are needed who want to videotape their daily bike commutes and measure the vehicle passing distance of their own rides. Ideally, participants would bike commute at least 2x week, be comfortable on a computer (to analyze their video data), and be able to participate for at least a month. There is no payment for joining the project, and the findings are only going to be used to inform the city of Baltimore.
Please contact Dave Love (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or are interested in helping.
In related news, DOT still needs volunteers to count bikes Sept 13th -15th at all locations! Sign up online here
As you may know, Hurricane Irene is heading our way. Tomorrow’s trail work day has been cancelled.
As a reminder, DPW rangers are citing mountain bikers $60 citations on unapproved single track trails. Given the amount of rain, give Loch Raven and all trails some time to recover before riding.
West Baltimore’s bicycle infrastructure continues to expand with new bike lanes on Edmondson Ave. Between Cooks Lane and the county line, a full 5′ bike lane is the first section of a proposed route connecting the Gwynns Falls Trail to Catonsville.
Another section, the Winans Way sidepath, is due for construction within the coming weeks. The sidepath utilizes existing pavement to designate a two-way multi-use path separated from vehicular travel lanes by a double-sided barrier. An opening in the guardrail at Winans Way and Franklintown Rd will provide access from the sidepath to the Gwynns Falls Trail.
Baltimore County is also planning on extending the bike lanes from the city line westward.
Last week, Baltimore learned it won two grants from the Federal Highway Administration. Under the Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program, the Charm City Circulator was awarded $1.6 million to developed the “Star Spangled” route between the Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry. The same program also awarded $1.7 million to develop bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure in West Baltimore.
Dubbed “Reconnecting West Baltimore,” this project features the West Baltimore Bicycle & Pedestrian Loop: an off-road, multi-use trail which circles the “Highway To Nowhere” between Fulton Avenue and Stricker St. Other improvements with this grant include developing bicycle boulevards and additional bike lanes connecting the communities to schools, markets, parks and transit stations.
The candidate bicycle boulevards include:
- Stricker St (from Pratt St to Harlem Park),
- Hollins St (from MLK Blvd to Stricker),
- W. Lexington St (from MLK to Stricker St)
- Carrollton Ave (Lafayette Park to Hollins Market)
Additional bike lanes are being evaluated for Pratt & Lombard Sts from Stricker to Frederick which connects to the Gwynns Falls Trail. A bike route connecting Harlem Park to Lafayette Park is also being evaluated.
As this project is in the preliminary stages, community meetings will be planned. The Department of Transportation is excited about this project as the city’s bicycle network expands westward.
Last week, DOT continued installing bike racks around the city at these locations:
- Liam Flynn’s Ale House on North Avenue
City Arts Apartments on Oliver
Too Good To Be Thru Consignment on Charles
Theatre Project On W Preston
Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen on Fort Ave
In my (almost) 3 years of using MTA’s bike racks on buses, never once has there been 2 bikes on the racks. Yesterday, that changed. Evaluating the Lexington Market area for bike racks late in the day, I pedalled over to Camden Yards to catch my ride home. Seconds after I pulled up, a 2nd cyclist pulled up behind me. We got talking about how much easier it is to bike around town since (more often than not) you get to pass cars sitting in traffic. When the bus came, we both loaded our rides onto our next ride.
I’ve been seeing more bikes on buses this year: around town, even in the ‘burbs and Ocean City. A good trend indeed! While the current racks, which hold 2 bikes, satisifies the demand, how long will it take before 3 or more bikes need that extra transit lift?
As part of the National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation Project, the 3rd bike counts of 2011 take place Tuesday, September 13th, Wednesday, September 14th and Thursday, Septemeber 15th. BIKE TRAFFIC VERIFIERS are needed to confirm cyclists on the city’s expanding bike network. Bicycle commuter traffic will be counted as the same locations at the May 2011 bicycle counts:
- Falls & Maryland
- Guilford & Mt. Royal
- Aliceanna & Boston
- Frederick & The Gwynns Falls Trail
- Fleet & President
- Frederick & Athol
- St. Paul & Centre
- Keswick & Wyman Park
- & the bike racks at Penn Station
Click the BIKE COUNTS SIGN-UP page at the top of the blog to sign up. A confirmation email will follow along with a final verification of time and location for your counts.
The Argonne Drive Bridge over the Herring Run recently opened with a new section of bike lanes to go with it. The bike lanes extend from Harford Rd to the Workforce Technology Center at Morgan State University.