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What? Remove a buff new bike lane in Baltimore?

June 20th, 2011 | Categories: Infrastructure, People | 8 comments


Uber bike planner Nate Evans and I took a spin down N. Monroe Street’s freshly striped bike lane the other day, which connects Mondawmin mall/metro station to North Avenue. Around lunchtime, there were few cars using this neighborhood artery.  In fact, a couple of happy teens on modified BMX rigs cruised down the gentle slope, taking up most of the street.  Evidently they hadn’t yet noticed the sweet bike lane (or they just didn’t want to ride with Nate and me).  To make way for this important and safe bike route, a lane for the cars was removed.   Apparently the driving community is not so stoked about the shrinkage and wants the bike component removed.   Bummer for the neighborhood!

With that new bike lane, more and more local folks might realize biking is a safe alternate to getting in that car or waiting for the bus.  If the city shows that it respects their neighborhood by providing them a safe and environmental way to enjoy it, then citizens are likely to respond in kind by respecting the rights of cyclists throughout the whole city, as well as their neighborhood.


  • CB

    Did you happen to take any pictures of the new bike lane configuration?

  • Mark

    that is one beautiful bike lane.

  • Patrick McMahon

    The Mondawmin area has had a particularly high number of bicycle injury crashes and developing a complete bike network around there is an important step in solving the problem. I hope the City will hold the line, so to speak.

  • Jessica

    I drive Monroe Street from Mondawmin to Washington Blvd each Friday morning – there is no need for 2 SB auto lanes (at least not on Friday mornings).  I won’t bike it the other 4 days because I fear the random stray bullet and opt for a longer circuitous route.  I tend to agree with the author that the bike lane may be a means to begin educating those in the neighborhood about safe biking and alternatives to a car or bus.

    Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, I’d say the kids aren’t in the bike lane because there are no signs or symbols indicating that it is actually a bike lane!

  • Nate Evans

    Sorry Patrick – this bike lane is scheduled to be removed in September

  • Minnesnowtan

    I am very pro bicycling, and having safer, more bicycle friendly streets is important to me. But why should bicycle friendliness be antagonistic towards cars?

    Badly designed infrastructure
    What do bicycle friendly cities have in common? Cities like Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota. 
    1) The cities were laid out on a grid system.  A grid system provides alternate routes for main thoroughfares. 
      Baltimore lacks alternate routes. Edmondson Avenue is a classic case of bottleneck. But rather than look for a way to build a parallel route, it has been decided to jam more vehicles through the area, including a train. High densities of heavy vehicles is the opposite of safe for bicyclists.

    2) Imagination and willingness to use it. The Washington Avenue bridge in Minneapolis connects two parts of the University of Minnesota campus. There is the typical four lanes with heavy car and truck traffic plus some rather inadequate sidewalks not far away. But there is an upper level which is not only a pedestrian deck with bike lanes, but it has a covered shelter in the center of the bridge extending most of the bridge’s length. In case you are wondering how new this bridge is, my description would fit it back in the 1970s if not before.

    The Minneapolis Greenway is an urban rails-to-trails that extends for miles in a straight east-west line in a busy part of town. It is more than a bike/pedestrian/rollerblade path, it has commercial viability. One of the major bicycle shops has the Greenway as its address.

    To say that Baltimore’s road infrastructure was “designed” makes me lose faith in civil engineers and city planners. Alternative routes to major roads, reducing the clogging of the arterials requires bypasses. Yes, the beginnings of a grid system. Slow traffic pollutes our air, frustrates our motorists and creates a negative atmosphere. Baltimore’s streets are little different than they were almost 100 years ago. It is time to make some bypasses and eliminate the bottlenecks. Once that has happened, bike lanes will be much easier to implement.

    The question is, do the people here have the imagination and the will to plan and change their city for the better?

  • Bruce

    In my nearly 15 years of being in Baltimore, the greatest progress toward safe cycling has been in the form of paint. The sidewalks along Northern Parkway (near the JFX) are blocked and overgrown. Jones Falls Road, a major cycling route is still a narrow 2 lane shoulderless road. 

    The Jones Falls Trail and the Gwynns Falls Trail are good starts, but we need a system for errand running and commutes. And once we get there, for safely parking our bikes. We need guarded or covered parking at malls and downtown. If I ride downtown for visiting a government agency can I bring the bike inside? Where can it be safely parked?

    Bike lanes? What good is getting somewhere if you can’t conduct business once you arrive because of bicycle prejudice?

  • Bruce

    The kids aren’t in the bike lane because their parents didn’t teach them to use it. Kids, heck, I see “adults” riding the wrong way on major roads, making left turns on red and even going the wrong way in the Roland Ave bike lanes.  Incredible.



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