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      Due to rainy weather, I may have to cancel tomorrow's Loch Raven - Gunpowder Ride.  Check website after 8am Friday to see if ride has been cancelled.  If I cancel ride, I may reschedule for Friday, May 13.

Apr-02-16 08:10 pm
Computer stops Working when I turn Light on
Category: Technical

      I have a Cateye Urban Wireless Computer that works OK until I turn on my Nightrider headlight.  I was puzzled why the computer  works OK on trails and stops working on roads. (I use a front light for visibility, even in daylight). Anyhow a helpful person at BBW said that lights interfere with the older wireless computers.  He said that newer wireless computers have a special feature to work near lights.  He suggested that one solution might be to move the light and computer further apart on my handlebars.  I took his advice, moved them far apart, and the wireless computer seems to be working OK. I just did a short test ride.  However, having the light and wireless computer on each respective drop isn't as convenient as having them in the center of my handlebars.  Having them near the drops interferes a bit with my riding positions.  Does anyone have any ideas for getting the wireless computer to work without putting it so far away from my front light.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Mar-18-16 09:33 pm
Three Foot Passing Law Passed Committee w/Amendment; Call your delegates today
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

    HB 214, the safe passing law, has passed the House and will be heard by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee shortly. The companion Senate Bill is SB 1123.  Please contact your state senator and let them know that you support SB 1123; which requires motorists attempting to pass a cyclist to SLOW DOWN AND MOVE OVER, in order not to endanger the cyclist or anyone else,  To find your state senator, go to Bob Wagner's Posting that accesses the Legislative Contacts.  If possible email your state senator over the weekend and call  Monday morning when they return to Annapolis.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Mar-17-16 12:20 pm
Three Foot Passing Law Passed Committee w/Amendment; Call your delegates today
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

     HB 214 the three foot safe passing law, with an Amendment, has passed the House Environment and Transportation Committee and is going to the House of Delegates floor TODAY.  This Bill mandates that if the driver cannot give three feet then they have to SLOW DOWN to not interfere with or endanger the cyclist or anyone else on the road.  While this change doesn't give us everything we want, THIS IS AN IMPROVEMENT.  Please Call(best) or email your delegates today.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Mar-03-16 02:33 pm
Cycle Track Causes Confusion
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

     I too would like to see an engineering evaluation of the Roland Ave Cycle Track.  On my bike rides, I sometimes  pass this section of Roland Ave, and have to select the least bad choice - road or Cycle Track.  Usually I opt for the road, though without the bikelane cars now have to change lanes to safely pass.  One problem I find when I use the Cycle Track,  as Janet and others have mentioned, is its narrowness - 2' buffer and 4' riding area.  The City Bicycle Master Plan calls for a 6' riding area and a 2 - 3' buffer.  And to make matters worse , the parking lane is only 7' wide.  Parked cars shy away from the traffic lane and encroach on the buffer - narrowing the Cycle Track to just 5' or even 4'.  And I also encounter delivery trucks that are over 8' wide.  Since they won't fit in the 7' parking lane, trucks also intrude into the buffer.  Consequently I encounter a Cycle Track, some of which is only 4 -5' wide from parked cars/trucks to curb, without any door zone buffer.  Riding my bicycle in this substandard width facility is like driving my car in half a lane, as I had to do in the blizzard.

      Unfortunately the City promised the Roland Park Improvement Association a riding area with a separation barrier from moving traffic.  The fact that the community wants to also retain parking and the City  insists on retaining two traffic lanes - and much of the street is only 34' wide in each direction - didn't stop the City from saying NO to the Association's request.  So after marking two 10'6" travel lanes (minimum width required by state law), there's only 13' feet remaining for a combined parking lane and Cycle Track.
And to make matters worse, this section of Roland Ave has many intersections, as Ellen Hochman mentioned, requiring the Cycle Track to continually switch from the curb to the traditional bikelane position.  Sound confusing???? And has anyone thought of prohibiting parking on certain days to allow street sweeping, so the  Track can be cleaned of glass, leaves, and sticks? 

       Now that the City has put in the Cycle Track, they should evaluate its safety and see whether children will  start using the Track to bike to school, which is the reason why the Improvement Association said they want it.  For legal purposes,  the City has defined the Cycle Track as a Bikepath rather than a bikelane; thereby allowing cyclists the option of using the roadway.  Now the City needs to let the public know that cyclists may use the roadway, so law abiding cyclists aren't harassed.  With spring approaching, I say let's objectively evaluate the Cycle Track with the new Charles Street buffered bikelane along JHU campus - and see what works better.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Feb-02-16 10:34 pm
Cycle Track Causes Confusion
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

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

Dec-17-15 04:09 pm
Cycle Track Causes Confusion
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

      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

Jun-02-15 02:55 pm
Ride Highlights
Category: Social
Forum: Ride Reports

Six cyclists participated in this scenic 38 mile ride that links Loch Raven Resevoir with Gunpowder St Pk.  Thanks to our group of intrepid riders and a helpful construction crew, we were able to cross the Jericho Covered Bridge that is being completely reconstructed. We enjoyed the ambiance of Palmissano's and having lunch by the stream across from  historic Jerusaleum Mill.  The scenery was definitely worth the climbs. Wanting extra mileage, Carol Russell rode the 12 miles roundtrip to the ride start. Ride was great way to start the weekend.

May-26-15 11:54 pm
Bicycle Touring
Category: Technical
Forum: Riding Style

    Taking advantage of last Saturday's perfect weather, I did an overnight bicycle trip from the East Frederick Arts District to historic Harper's Ferry.  I left Frederick by Ballenger Creek Pike.  After passing thru  new residences and schools, Ballenger Creek Pike becomes rural with mountains in background, before reaching Point of Rocks.  I then took the shady C & O Canal to Brunswick, a former railroad town that still has a nice  Museum.  I continued via road to HF, savoring the view of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers surrounded by mountains.  After lounging around HF, I returned to Sandy Hook, Md and stayed at the Hostel, where I met a large group of road cyclists who had biked from DC and N Va.  There were also several hikers who had started hiking the appalachian trail (AT) in early March at Springer Mtn GA and were approaching the midpoint of their 6 month journey to Mt Katadin. They had some interesting adventures.  Loretta, the hostel manager, and her assistant prepared a delicious dinner for $8.  After dinner some people hung out at the campfire, though the evening was chilly.  And the hostel had just been renovated.
    Sunday morning I headed into W VA and biked 12 miles to the Farmer's Market in friendly Shepherdstown.  Then I took a combination of road and Canal back to
HF and retraced my route to East Frederick. Sunday's longer mileage was 57, but the riding was easy. Great overnight low cost trip, without having to carry much gear.  Perhaps other BBC members will think about joining me next year.
Jeffrey H. Marks

May-21-15 10:50 pm
City Planning to Convert Roland Ave's Bikelanes to narrow One Way Cycle Tracks
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

At the Roland Ave Improvement Association Meeting, Baltimore City Transportation Director William Johnson described converting Roland's bikelanes into one way Cycle Tracks, between parked cars and the curb, on each side of Roland. What unpleasantly surprised Barry Childress and me was that each one way Cycle Track would only be 6' wide - a 4' bikelane and a two foot buffer for passengers to alight from parked cars.  Federal Guidelines, where parked cars are the buffer, call for an 8' minimum width.  The current design not only provides insufficent room for cyclists  to pass other cyclists but also too little space to avoid the door zone of parked cars.  MDOT's yellow brochure, " Safe Bicycling in Maryland ", on page 16 instructs cyclists to ride at least 4' away from parked cars, so one doesn't get hit if someone opens their door. A conventional bikelane allows the cyclist to move out of the door zone where necessary.  A one way 6' Cycle Track doesn't. Riding 4' from parked cars and 1' from the curb in a 6' space leaves only 1' for the cyclist..  At a time when I was just starting to understand Cycle Tracks, removing the bikelane on a key bicycle commuter route to shoehorn Cycle Tracks  rekindles my skepticism that the City will build Cycle Tracks where there's no room or they aren't suitable.

    Commuters prefer Roland Ave because it's more of a neighborhood street and ends at Lake Ave, making it less attractive to motorists than say Charles St that provides access to the Beltway.  Unlike Falls Rd south of Coldspring, Roland has a passing lane, allowing motorists to pass bicyclists without encroaching into oncoming traffic.

WILL CYCLISTS BE REQUIRED TO USE THE CYCLE TRACKS?

     Md is one of 8 states that require cyclists, with limited exceptions, to use a bikelane. Use of a bikepath in MD is optional.  (All surroundings states - PA, DE, DC, and VA - don't require cyclists to use either a bikelane or bikepath).  I talked to Bicycle Director Caitlin Doolin at the meeting, and she said that one way out of this dilemma would be to call the Cycle Track a Bikepath rather than a Bikelane. Caitlin said that NY City just changed their terminology of Cycle Tracks,  to avoid mandatory use. I also conferred with LAB Legal and Policy Specialit Ken McLeod.  Ken sent me Md's Title 21 Vehicle Laws - Rules of the Road 21-101 Definitions:
    " Bicycle Path" means any travelway designed and designated by signing or signing and marking for bicycle use, located within its own right-of-way or in a shared right-of-way and PHYSICALLY SEPARATED FROM MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC BY BERM, SHOULDER, OR OTHER SIMILAR DEVICE.  Ken indicated that it appears the definition of "bicycle path" in MD likely encompasses a cycletrack that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic.  While it appears the City will tolerate cyclists using the roadway, they prefer we use the Cycle Track.  Our challenge as part of the traffic calming project is to persuade the City to put sharrows on the roadway to alert motorists that we have the option of using the roadway.
Jeffrey H. Marks

     

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