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Jones Falls Trail Is For Everyone

January 11th, 2013 | Categories: Infrastructure | 4 comments

Jones Falls Trail crossing at Gay StreetContributed by John McDonald

I’ve been watching the recent addition of signs and ramps that are the Jones Falls Trail (JFT) between Pratt and the Fallsway cycletrack; the route wasn’t clear to me before.

There will be criticism from serious cyclists when they realize that the trail is “just” signs directing us to ride on the sidewalk. I think those criticisms will be misguided. Yes, we could all come up with a better design if we had infinite money to spend, but I think it will be pretty cool that someone in Mt. Washington could ride with their kids to the Science Center and never have to ride in the street (with the exception of a couple quiet blocks in Clipper Mill). The sidewalks on the west side of Fallsway are wide and get little pedestrian traffic, so treating the sidewalk there as a multi-use path really shouldn’t be a problem for a slow, family-type cyclist; the same is true for Mt. Royal, St. Paul and Lanvale. Market Place could be a crowded mess, but it’s not very long.

I think the key is that the sidewalk sections of the JFT will be for people who are more comfortable sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians than they are sharing the road with cars; in other words, most people. For the rest of us, instead of condemning the JFT, we can ride in the street on the Fallsway going north to the cycletrack, then take Guilford and Lafayette instead of Mt. Royal and St. Paul. Going southbound, anti-sidewalkists could take Lanvale and then Guilford/South.

I think it’s kind of ridiculous that the people who are most adamant that car drivers should share the road with us and give us plenty of room and not be upset when their cars have to slow down and wait until it’s safe to pass, also get angry when they have to share a multi-use path (like the Inner Harbor section of the JFT) with pedestrians.

  • Dukiebiddle

    Hey, I’m all for sharing MUPs with pedestrians.  What I’m not all for is sharing a narrow high density sidewalk with 100s of pedestrians who are all walking on the wrong side of the path, such as one experiences around the Power Plant, but I can deal with that, and I think the overwhelming majority of cyclists have begrudgingly accepted that poor design.  What I cannot be begrudgingly accepting of is sharing the MUP with antique and trinket vendors who set up their market stands right on the MUP, so that the MUP becomes a pedestrian meandering zone, and cyclists become a dangerous addition to the mix, as one experiences on weekend  morning on the portion of the trail in front of the Aquarium.  Riding is such a scenario is akin to riding a bicycle through a shopping mall or farmers market.  I’m also not all for sharing the pathway with the poles to traffic signals THAT ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATHWAY, such as still exist around the Harbor pavilions or with poles to streetlights THAT ARE ALSO STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATHWAY, such as still exist  on the Jones Falls Trail portion adjacent to Mount Royal Avenue.

    It isn’t a matter of not wanting to share with pedestrians.  I’m actually a huge fan of MUPs.  It’s a matter of both design and execution.  Frankly, I resent the implication that anyone who may be critical of the trail is only being selfish and doesn’t want to share the pathway with pedestrians. 

  • John McDonald

    I agree 100% that the poles in the middle of the path are annoying, and it seems like it should be easy and relatively cheap to move them three or four feet in or out.  I’m hoping that will be one of the finishing touches on the JFT once the city finally, finally finishes it.

    There are other obvious flaws in the details of the JFT; what I was trying to defend was the general idea of using wide, lightly travelled sidewalks, like those along the lower Fallsway, as a cheap MUP suitable for casual cyclists.

  • Arcturian1

    yes, 100% on the poles in the middle of the path- absolutely incomprehensible the design in front of the harborplace pavilion, with the streetlight poles in the middle. 

  • Jed Weeks

    I don’t think cyclists resent sharing a MUP. I think they resent losing a dedicated cycletrack with minor flaws for a MUP with major ones.



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