Posts Categorized in 'Infrastructure'
A host of new bike infrastructure is popping up in (outer) West Baltimore. The planned bike route connecting the Gwynns Falls Trail at Winans Way to the Edmondson Avenue bike lanes is complete. Using pre-existing traffic calming along Briarclift Road and Greenwich Avenue, this bike route includes sharrows and wayfinding signs to create a bike boulevard through Hunting Ridge, West Hills and Westgate
Wayfinding signs (this one along the Gwynns Falls Trail) indicate distances to the Inner Harbor, Edmondson Village and Ellicott City.
Contributed by Nate Evans
When the average American goes on vacation, it’s usually to get away from the everyday routine of work, life and everything else. If the trend were true, you’d find me on the NASCAR circuit kicking back in the parking lots outside a rented RV, whooopin’ it up. (Not me.) Taking pictures on vacation is more than just the usual scenic shots and happy family times. With a series of suppressed eye rolls, my wife has become accustomed to me stopping to look at different bike infrastructure no matter where we’re travelling. Typically, what I see in other places can be applied to Baltimore.
This recent trip was no different….
Phase 4 of the Jones Falls Trail from Woodberry to Cylburn Arbortem is the latest section of the trail to be constructed. Phase 4 continues where Phase 3 (through Druid Hill Park) ends at Clipper Mill. While still under construction, this section of the Jones Falls Trail offers a quiet, woodland ride in the heart of the city.
From Clipper Park Road, turn left onto Clipper Road and continue north past some very old houses. At Druid Park Drive, continue north along the right side of the road. (There should be some “Except Bicycles’ signs beneath the “Do Not Enter” signs)
After crossing W Cold Spring Lane, windup the ADA compliant ramp to continue on the trail. Features like this make it easy for those in wheelchairs or with strollers and offer challenges for those on mountain or trials bikes.The Jones Falls Trail continues toward Cylburn through the woods with retaining walls and embankments. If you are looking for some fun obstacles to ride, best hit this now before any railings are put in.
Baltimore County recently installed bike lanes on Seven Courts Drive in Perry Hall. What was once a 4 lane speedway through a residential area with elementary school and senior center, traffic speeds have greatly reduced thanks to a road diet. North of Seven Oaks Elementary, additional roadway space that was once used for illegal curbside passing, is now a bike lane with full time parking (above).
Like any other jurisdiction new to installing bike lanes, Baltimore County also has a minor fix needed. Instead of dropping the bike lane with bikes and cars merging before Joppa Road, this bike lane diverts sharply into the curb.
Recently a group of community residents adopted the mini traffic circle at 32nd Street & Guilford Avenue, moving some of the stones in the center of the circle, adding soil, and planting a community garden. While the circle isn’t that much to look at right now, it’s a vast improvement on the initial installation and it should look even better when the plants start flowering, creating something beautiful and colorful where there was previously just gray stone and raising the center of the circle so that it is more visible to drivers approaching the intersection.
Mini traffic circles have been used in jurisdictions around the country for a few decades, with Seattle having the most extensive program. When properly designed and installed they can reduce the frequency and severity of crashes, reduce delay for motorists and bicycles, and maintain safety for pedestrians. In Baltimore and other cities four-way stop signs have been installed at the community’s request in many locations where the traffic volume doesn’t justify stopping every vehicle. Eventually drivers and bicyclists begin ignoring the stop signs and rolling through, creating additional safety challenges. Instead a well-designed circle forces vehicles to slow down by preventing them from driving straight through, but doesn’t make them stop if there isn’t any conflicting traffic.
Three mini traffic circles were placed along Guilford Avenue as part of the Bike Boulevard installation (at 32nd, 24th, & 22nd), and they have made it more convenient for bicyclists (who don’t have to unnecessarily stop at the intersection), but the circles haven’t been a complete success. Built without any greenspace, signage, or reflective material in the circle, they have been hard to see and unattractive. Additionally, they were built a bit small, not forcing drivers to slow down enough to guarantee that drivers would stop for all pedestrians and were a little confusing for folks not familiar with them. Some community residents expressed their frustration and/or artistic side by putting a variety of objects in the center of the circle at 32nd Street, including a toilet, phone books, and a living room set.
The new planting should help address some of the aesthetic and safety concerns at 32nd, by making the circle more visible and attractive. The guerilla gardeners appear to have picked hardy, native plants that will provide some color and height throughout the year, flowering in a variety of colors. Since the circle wasn’t designed with soil in it, the gardeners stacked the blocks removed from the center in a circle to support several inches of new soil. Not all of the circle was planted and the unplanted portion of the circle should allow fire trucks and other large vehicles to safely navigate the intersection, even when making a left turn around the circle and having to drive on part of the circle.
Hopefully, the residents around 32nd & Guilford will continue to maintain this improvement and other community groups will adopt the circles at 22nd & 24th, setting a precedent for future mini-circles in Baltimore.
Following up to the April 17th public meeting, the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee made a final recommendation for which projects the county should pursue this year. The committee was asked to pick which projects should be priority projects and then rank them, which included:
1) Feasibility Study and Preliminary Design for the North Point Heritage Trail
2) On Street Road Improvements in Catonsville area, including a linkages between UMBC, Arbutus, Catonsville, and Patapsco Valley Park
3) Towson Bike Loop “Spokes” (Putty Hill, Pennsylvania & Chesapeake Avenues, Kenilworth Drive)
4) Bike Lanes on Dundalk Avenue
While the Cromwell Valley Trail was popular during the public meeting, this project was not selected because there is not enough support from the immediate community. To fund these projects, Baltimore County will be preparing the grant applications, which are due June 5.
Contributed by Nate Evans
The new trails at Fairland Regional Park is another gem in Maryland’s single track system. A short drive down 95, Fairland is a relatively slender, stream valley park surrounded by suburbs, quarries and a golf course. To develop a series of sustainable trails on this former quarry site, MORE first established a good working relationship with Montgomery County and the Maryland National Capital Parks & Planning Commission. With a grant from REI, MORE, led by trail boss Austin Steo, put in over a thousand hours of volunteer work to create the system. MORE held a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday to officially open 8 miles of new trail. These new trails represent just another phase in the developing system at Fairland. Several new trails provide more challenging features like boardwalk skinnies, up and overs and log lines. One section of trail features a series of rollers which allows riders to pump their way along a hillside as if riding a rollercoaster! Don’t let these features discourage you from riding here. All the trails are well-graded with no real challenging climbs and easy alternatives around the more challenging obstacles.
Future plans for Fairland include a mountain bike skills park; like Rockburn but more for mountain bikes. The old slag piles from the quarry will be the basis for future gravity lines. One of the new trails connects to a residential area allowing the immediate communities to take advantage of the park. These connector trails can also be extended north into adjacent parklands. If you have an mtb trip planned to Rockburn or Patapsco, add some time and hit Fairland while you’re at it.
The Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) held an open meeting to hear what projects the public was interested in supporting. Hosted by the Department of Planning, PBAC listened to suggestions for bicycle and pedestrian projects across the county to be considered for selection by the committee.
Projects recommended by the public included:
1. The Northeast Trail – This trail has been included in the Overlea and Perry Hall community plans, which would extend along the utility corridor, Lillian Holt Drive and Perry Hall Boulevard from the city line to Silver Spring Road. This project was endorsed by Carroll Pupa of Lindover and Doris Polling of Overlea.
2. The North Point Heritage Greenway Trail – Included in the 2007 North Point Communty Plan, this trail would utilize abandoned railbed connecting communities, parks, Todd’s Inheritance, a senior community and veteran’s housing at Fort Howard. This project was supported by Fran Taylor of North Point and Wink Hastings of the National Park Service
3. Catonsville Trails – No community in Baltimore County has done more to promote trail development than Catonsville. Building trails from the Trolley lines has been a community-led effort that would benefit from more county support. Complementing the trail system with an on-street bike network would make Catonsville the most bikeable community in the county. These projects were supported by Maureen Becker, Charlie Murphy and others in attendance.
4. Towson Bike Loop “Spokes” – Building on the proposed Towson Bike Loop, which should be constructed this year, the “Spokes” would fill in and expand the Towson bike network by creating or expanding bike lanes on Kenilworth Avenue, Putty Hill Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, Chesapeake Avenue, Fairmount Avenue, Washington Avenue, Joppa Road, Stevenson Lane, Burke Road, Cromwell Bridge Road and Osler Drive. This project was proposed by Lysh Lorber, co-chair of the 5th District PBAC.
6. On-street bike routes for Rodgers Forge, Seven Courts Drive and Putty Hill Avenue were suggested by 5th District members.
7. Extending Baltimore City bike lanes into the county was recommended by Nate Evans on Dundalk Avenue, Greenspring Avenue to Quarry Lake, Frederick Avenue to Catonsville and Gwynn Oak Avenue to Woodlawn.
8. Gwynns Falls Trail to Patpasco Trail connection was suggested by Franklintown Association President Jack Lattimore. This trail will extend through Woodlawn to Patapsco Valley State Park
9. Cromwell Valley Trail – No other project received more support than the Cromwell Valley Trail. This proposed trail would connect Loch Raven High School, Cromwell Valley Park and Loch Raven Drive. Lysh Lorber provided a cost estimate and scope for a feasibility study to make the trail a reality.
Councilmen Tom Quirk and David Marks were present to thank the public for their suggestions and to encourage the committee to select multiple projects. Councilman Quirk would like more of these projects in his district to connect University of Maryland, Baltimore County with the adjacent community as well as open up mountain bike access to Patapsco. Quirk even commented that he biked from Catonsville to Annapolis and back this past weekend.
All these projects will have limited county funding for studies, design or construction. Baltimore County intends to apply for Recreation Trails funding, Transportation Alternatives funding and MDOT Bikeways funding to move these projects forward. PBAC will make a final selection of projects at next week’s meeting on Tuesday, April 23rd, 4pm in Room 104 of the Jefferson Building (105 W Chesapeake Avenue, Towson)
New East Coast Greenway signs delineate the route through Baltimore on its way from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. The ECG Convention takes place in Baltimore on April 26th and 27th at the World Trade Center. Special thanks to Andy Hamilton (Mid-Atlantic coordinator) and Greg Hinchliffe (ECG Maryland Committee) for posting the signs!