Tracking preferred bike routes in southeast Baltimore has been a challenge. Scheduled bike counts at President & Aliceanna, President & Fleet and occasionally at President & Fawn/Eastern did not reveal any higher than average traffic numbers indicating a preferred route entering downtown from Fells Point, Canton or points east. Online and in-person surveys also did not assist which corridor was preferred. Bank and Gough Streets proved good ‘bike boulevard’ routes, but only for through bike traffic heading to Butcher’s Hill or Highlandtown.
The advent of Strava has shed light on this mystery! Strava is generally used by more seasoned riders who like to track their riding statistics. Seasoned riders tend to be the 1%ers, brave and fearless cyclists. By reviewing Strava’s Race Shape heat map, a good base for where people are riding emerges. Given that premise, the below map illustrates that Fleet Street (in dark blue) is used more as a bike route well into Canton, than Aliceanna Street or Eastern Avenue. Even as Aliceanna Street is marked as a bike route, along with Fait Avenue, there’s more bike traffic on Fleet and President Streets.
With Fleet Street being the preferred east/west bike route from the Inner Harbor through Fells Point and into Canton, a few options are available for improved bicycle infrastructure.
Option #1 – of course, would to do nothing and add sharrows to the existing lane configuration.
Option #2 - With approximately 42′ of roadway space from curb to curb, adding a bike lane in one direction (likely eastbound) with a shared lane (westbound) would slightly improve bicycle level of comfort. Adding an inverse lane configuration with a westbound bike lane on Aliceanna or Eastern would be practical.
Option #3 - To centralize bicycle traffic along the Fleet Street corridor, providing more adequate bicycle facilities would be necessary. To provide two bike lanes along this length, removing on-street parking along one side of the street would be necessary.
Option #4 - If a row of on-street parking was removed to truly increase bicycle level of comfort, providing a bi-directional buffered bike lane would really do the trick. The buffer could be treated with bollards, landscaping or (like other Baltimore bike improvements) furniture and sculptures. Displaced parking could be accommodated at Canton Crossing or Eastpoint Mall where bikeshare stations or an enhanced transit hub could be established.