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Issues with City Paper’s “Bike Issue”

April 26th, 2011 | Categories: Programs | 2 comments

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:

Growing Pains
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.

  • ata

    outcry is part of advocacy and demanding our public employees do their job properly and treat citizens equally under the law is part of advocacy. As you point out, only crying out is missing opportunities, but not crying out perpetuates the status quo. Nate, I love you, but we cant all drop everything we are doing everytime a city employee is about to make a decision that impacts our ability to use the public right-of-way. That is why we pay you (and we should have 12 of you), that is why we call our elected officials WHEN WE CAN and demand that they instruct the cities employees to make the right of ways useable, thats why we call 311, thats why the MBPAC was formed, thats why we join groups like LAB and OLC/Bike MD. I agree we can and should do more, but not crying out was unconscionable. And no the BCPD wasnt misquoted, I was told the exact same thing re: Kranspooler by no less than 3 different officers, including the K Brown quoted in the article. I understand misquotes happen, and its good to give BCPD the benefit when info is lacking, but info isnt lacking, and the behavior of our supposed liason (“loaning” an unregisterd handgun to a politically connected businessman for 20 years) is not exactly making me want to extend any more benefits of doubt.

  • Nate Evans

    Thanks for the support! I have no problem handling things in-house, but really I am pretty far down on the ladder…like pretty much the bottom. Whether in the public or private sector, directives come from the top and employees are expected to follow orders. Directives are supported through policy, budgets and focused publicity; none of which I control. To ensure beneficial directives (like biking) are issued, citizens need to make their preferences made known directly.

    I appreciate BikeMD’s Ambassador program. LAB and BikeMD do great things for biking on the state and national level, but don’t assume someone else is representing bicyclist interests for you, especially at the local level.



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