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Roland Ave Cycle Track

Roland Ave Cycle Track

      Opening the Roland Ave Cycle Track should wait until spring; when people's minds are not distracted by the holidays, more cyclists are out, and a major educational campaign can be undertaken to instruct motorists where to park and to yield to cyclists.  Opening the Cycle Track prematurely without education, proper signage and pavement makings, clarification on right of way, etc causes confusion AND ENDANGERS CYCLISTS.

      The Roland Park Community is divided over whether to retain the conventional bikelane or to convert to a one way Cycle Track between parked cars and the curb.  Families with small children are the biggest supporters of the Cycle Track.  Other residents don't like  losing the bike lane that serves as a buffer between parked and moving cars.  Also, having passengers exit onto the Cycle Track makes many people uncomfortable.  Merchants like Eddie's are strongly opposed to the Cycle Track, since it impedes shoppers loading groceries and causes conflicts with cyclists.

      The tight dimensions of many sections of Roland Ave also work against the Cycle Track.  Some sections of the Track would only have 6' between parked cars and the newly raised curb.  The narrow width would leave only a 2' buffer area and a 4' bikelane; requiring cyclists to ride in the passenger door zone.  The yellow MDOT Pamphlet, "Safe Bicycling in Maryland", advises cyclists to ride 4' from parked cars, in order to avoid the risk of being hit by a car door. Also, the narrow dimensions of the Track would make it difficult or impossible to safely pass slower cyclists - say a child going 5 mph. Additionally Cycle Tracks require special engineering to slow down traffic crossing the Cycle Track; and to make it clear that the cyclist has the right of way.

     Since the Cycle Track has a physical barrier - parked cars - between cyclists and the traffic lane;  Maryland Law appears to consider the facility a bikepath
rather than a bikelane.  The City indicated at public meetings that cyclists would have the option of using the roadway. Cyclists wanting exercise, commuters, and when going fast on downhill sections should consider using the roadway.  Personally, I would have prefered a "buffered bikelane", like the well designed one on Charles Street along JHU,

Jeffrey H. Marks

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

Yeah, what Jeffrey said.

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

Mr Marks raises valid points concerning the Roland Ave cycle track. They have been carefully studied and vetted by the community. Our decision, and that of the City, is to build the cycle track as designed. If, after some trial period, the community wishes to reassess the cycle track and possible change its design, I am sure we will do so.

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

mike mcquestion wrote:

Mr Marks raises valid points concerning the Roland Ave cycle track. They have been carefully studied and vetted by the community. Our decision, and that of the City, is to build the cycle track as designed. If, after some trial period, the community wishes to reassess the cycle track and possible change its design, I am sure we will do so.

I would question whether this situation indeed has been fully 'vetted by the community' as suggested.  The community meeting that I went to earlier this year at the Rolan Park Elementary/Middle school seemed to be a cheerleading session invoked for and by supporters of the program with little opportunity for true discussion or dissenting opinion from the audience.   

As this cycle track is now set to open, it seems that this matter was never fully resolved as suggested by recent media reports describing this situation as being far from 'vetted by the community' and as "a civil war going on in Roland Park." 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryla … story.html
https://www.baltimorebrew.com/2015/11/0 … cle-track/

Should the community wish to reassess the cycle track at some point in the future, it remains to be seen how 'open to possible design change' designers and planners will be given their 'track' record during its implementation.

Edited by: Steve Feldman - Dec-20-15 08:52 am

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

Before our January blizzard blanketed Baltimore and the Roland Ave Cycle Track, I did an independent analysis of the Cycle Track.  I sent my observations to Baltimore DOT (director and project manager) Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton, and Baltimore Brew web site.  I also sent a short, one paragraph version to the Baltimore Sun (it was not published).  I now realize that I referred to it as a bicycle lane not by the technical term "Cycle Track." 

During my analysis using an Excel spreadsheet (which was not sent with the letter), I documented the Cycle Track position as it switches from side to side of the parked cars. Spreadsheet is attached here for your reference.   
Roland-Ave-Bike-Lane.xlsx


Sharing my letter with the forum here..
-------------------------------
Bicycle rider safety should be the number one objective of a bicycle lane.  But the newly painted bike lanes between Cold Spring Avenue and Northern Parkway have discarded safety in favor of "artistic" lines on the road. 

As a frequent bicycle rider who pedaled across the US a few years ago and as a member of the local bicycle club, I have a strong interest in bicycle safety.  This past weekend I studied the new bike lanes which extend only 1.2 miles and I observed at least 15 direction changes in each the northbound and southbound lanes.  A bicycle rider needs to pay attention to the surroundings, but how can that be accomplished when the person is expected to watch for:

• cars that might cross paths with the direction of travel in the bike lane
• car doors that might open at any moment from either the driver's side or the passenger side - depending on which side of the parked cars the bike lane is painted
• pedestrians shopping in the 5100 block, across from the library, who traverse the bike lane
• students at Roland Park Elementary and Middle Schools who might dash across the bike lane
• patrons of the Roland Park public library going to or from the parked cars
• adults standing in the bike lane while placing or removing a child in a car seat
• debris in the roadway (glass, tree limbs, large garbage bags caught on a sign board in the buffer zone)
• other road hazards, including the storm drain at Longwood (southbound) and the storm drain in front of Roland Park public schools (northbound)
• unpainted transitions in the bike lane
• sections of road on which the bike lane isn't painted and the direction of travel is impeded by parked vehicles

The bike rider is expected to look over the shoulder for on-coming traffic while at the same time swerving around obstacles in the road.

In addition, some of the narrow sandwich board signs with arrows pointing to the parking and bike lanes were positioned half way up a block of parked cars which obscured the information for the drivers approaching the parking segment.  Other sign boards were lying useless, flat on the ground - either knocked over by the wind or some other force.

The segments of the bike lane that are between the parked cars and the sidewalk are exposed to additional safety hazards including the presence of wet and slippery leaves at this time of year.  We have already had frigid temperatures here in Baltimore and the patches of ice that we dread when driving a car are just as hazardous to bikers.  With snow in our forecast, who is responsible for clearing the bike lane so bike commuters can get to work?   It is likely that those snow or ice covered sections of  bike lane will be abandoned and riders will bike in a straight path in the cleared roadway on the traffic side of parked cars.  This puts bikers in the recently narrowed motor-vehicle lanes which were squeezed to create the approximately six feet of bike lane.  With narrowed lanes of traffic, there is even less room for moving cars to pass bikers.  Also, there is less space and higher risk for individuals to open or close the door of a parked car and to walk to or from the door of a parked car.

And what about the improperly parked cars?  I observed 21 parked cars with tires encroaching in the buffer zone which was created to provide a reduced hazard when passengers open car doors.  And on my second investigative trip on Roland Ave, every one of the 15 cars parked between Cold Spring and Upland (northbound) were in violation of keeping the buffer zone clear.  In segments of the street where there were no lines painted to indicate parking and bike lanes, cars were parked close to the curb and therefore obstructed the line of travel for those in the curb-side bike lane just preceding this stretch of the road.

I've heard that those who complained about these newly painted lines were told that "you'll get used to it."  Well for safety purposes, it should be a safe design from the start.  What happens where newcomers arrive in the area?  Do we excuse their actions because they didn't have adequate time to be trained for a poorly conceived design? 

A lot of paint was used to implement the new bike lane and corresponding parking lane and buffer zone as well as zones defined by a series of diagonal lines. What is the plan to ensure that that lines are maintained so that they are clearly visible - even in low light?  By the way, what is the significance of the diagonal lines?  They certainly don't communicate an area of no-parking.  I observed multiple parked cars in them.  If the zig-zags were eliminated, a potential benefit is that maintenance of the painted lines would be simplified with corresponding cost reductions.

Conclusion:  The slalom course of the newly implemented Roland Ave bike lanes creates an extremely high risk, hazardous environment for bicycle riders, pedestrians,  and motor vehicle drivers. 

What is the plan to provide a truly safe environment for all people who travel on Roland Ave?  All the people means motor vehicle operators including bus drivers, bicycle riders, pedestrians accessing shopping areas, bus riders stepping off the curb to access a bus, library patrons, and students from Roland Park public elementary and middle schools?

Ellen Hochman

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

We are well beyond the snow event, what is the current status of the cycle track: clear and useable, or dangerous?
Ellen's report is very scary.  Are the cycle track implementers and supporters still pleased?

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

Speaking strictly for myself, and not on behalf of the BBC: that so-called "cycle track" on Roland Avenue is dangerous. I won't use it; it's safer to take my chances in the right lane -- if at all.

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

ROLAND AVE CYCLE TRACK

     The Cycle Track has many shortcomings and is very confusing.  Residents with small children felt that putting cyclists between parked cars and the curb would make it safer for their children to bike to school.  However, as Ellen Hochman pointed out, Roland Ave with 13 -15 intersections in this 1.2 mile stretch, doesn't lend itself to squeezing cyclists between the parked cars and the curb.  First there's insufficent room.  Although the City Bicycle Master Plan calls for a width of 8 - 9' for a one way Cycle Track - where parked cars are the separation barrier - the majority of the Track is only 6' wide, putting the cyclist in the door zone.  The second shortcoming is the many intersections and the need to preserve parking.  Cyclists are safer at intersections where they are near the traffic flow, away from the curb.  A proper Cycle Track has a "Mixing Zone" , where right turning traffic merges to the RIGHT of through cyclists prior to the intersection.  Roland Ave doesn't do this.  Instead,  Cyclists abruptly move from the curb to close to the traffic lane.  Where  there are several intersections/driveways in a short distance (i.e - near Le Petite Louise), the bikeway stays to the LEFT of parked cars rather than continually moving to/from the curb. This design is the least bad of several choices.  However, the need to constantly shift the cyclist from near the curb to close to the traffic lane is very confusing.  The third shortcoming is leaves, branches, glass, and now snow and ice.  These hazards tend to pile up near the curb, and unlike a conventional or buffered bikelane there's no easy way to leave a Cycle Track to avoid these hazards - or to make a lefthand turn.

        Only the cheer leaders for the Cycle Track came to public meetings.  However, once the Track opened and people were told to park 6' from the curb, there was tremendous controversy.  Drivers now had to open their car doors directly into  traffic.  Drivers removing children from car seats are now in the Cycle Track, instead of the sidewalk.  Eddie's and the pharmacy strenuously objected, but to no avail.

       Several club members turned out in the summer meeting to oppose the Cycle Track.  But the City had made up its mind.  The one thing that we were able to accomplish was for the City to agree to legally designate this one way Cycle Track as a BIKEPATH, with its physical separation barrier of parked cars, rather than a BIKELANE, making cyclist use OPTIONAL. Sound confusing???  Just like a business or nonprofit may have a common and a legal name (i.e - League of American Bicyclists vs League of American Wheelmen), the same goes for a bicycle facility. 

       We recall how cyclists vigorously fought for the right to the road and to be treated like vehicles.  We resisted efforts to require us to use bikepaths - especially paths that parallel a road with many intersections.  Federal Guidelines were drawn up for proper design of Bikelanes. While I'm glad that there are new cyclists, they lack experience and education.  There's more to cycling than clicking on Mapquest.  Cycle Tracks are a hot item.  Bikemore is one of the leading proponents.  Cycle Tracks, to be done correctly, require more space, complex engineering, parking restrictions, increased maintenance and sweeping/plowing, and a lot of cyclist and motorist education. Roads with mixed traffic like Roland Ave don't lend themselves to a Cycle Track. We don't live in Denmark where half the people bike. Cyclists need to ride where they can be easily seen by traffic entering the roadway and making right and lefthand turns.  There needs to be greater thought, so good cycling routes like Roland Ave aren't ruined by Cycle Tracks.

Jeffrey H. Marks

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

I'll admit, there's a little too much written here for me to want to read it all. (no offense meant to any posters)

I'll just say that there's nothing good or bad about the changes on Roland that are surprising to me.
Seems about what I expected.

Mostly, I don't see how bikers, drivers or residents can form any opinion yet. It's barely been implemented, and I bet most riders aren't using it because of winter weather rather than poor design. I think the answer will be in how we use it when we finally do use it.

-Bob

bobwag@gmail.com
4130 on 28's @ 15
http://randoramble.wordpress.com/

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Re: Roland Ave Cycle Track

On NextDoor at the moment, there's an unusually active discussion (condemnation, really) of the ridiculous and dangerous excuse for bike lanes on Roland Ave. Now that noncyclists in nice neighborhoods are concerned, perhaps something will be done about this situation.

DISCLAIMER: I'm speaking here as one cyclist, not as a representative of the BBC. Anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a fight.

Edited by: Janet Goldstein - Feb-25-16 05:32 am

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