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May-15-15 04:45 pm
City Considering Converting Roland Ave's Bikelanes to One Way Cycle Tracks
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

Baltimore is repaving Roland Ave and seeking community input on whether to replace the traditional bikelane with a one way Cycle Track, located between the parked cars and the curb, on each side of Roland.  The Roland Park Civic Association will be holding a public meeting at 7 pm Thursday, May 21 at Roland Park Elem, 5207 Roland Ave. The meeting will discuss the best method of accommodating bicyclists. 

       Cycle Tracks are designed for slower speeds and work best when a lot of cyclists use them.  The Tracks would have cyclists use the crosswalks at Northern Pkwy and Cold Spring Lane.

       Commuters and faster cyclists need to be represented at the meeting. Roland Ave was the City's first Bikeway and has been in use for over 35 years.  With the exception of Tom Palermo's death by a drunk driver 3 times over the limit, Roland Ave has served the needs of bicycle commuters. I talked with about 8 cyclists today, Bike to Work Day, and they all favored retaining conventional bikelanes, rather than a Cycle Track.  Unlike other arterials, like Falls Rd and Charles Street, Roland ends at Lake Ave; giving the road a local feel.

       Several questions need to be asked:

1) Are there any parallel secondary streets which can be improved for children and casual cyclists?

2)  Ask parents:  Will converting the conventional bikelanes to one way Cycle Tracks result in them allowing their children to bike to school? If so, will schools be prepared for the influx of bikes?  Will schools keep textbooks, computers, and other items kids must transport to a manageable level, so they can safely bike?  Will private schools allow students to bike?  Are their any dress code issues that may preclude students from biking to school?

3) What traffic calming measures, street markings, and motorist education is planned so turning and cross street traffic pay extra attention and look for cyclists where they don't expect to see them?

4) Will there be a separate signal phase for cyclists, who are now at the right of right turning traffic, to cross Cold Spring Lane and Northern Pkwy ?

       We should sensitize the community to the different levels of cyclists. When one is commuting 10 miles to work, travel time is important.  Also people ride to get exercise.  Restricting a cyclist who normally rides at 16 mph, and even 25+ on downhills, to the 10 - 11 mile design speed is unfair.  Because Roland Ave ends at Lake Ave; Roland is  a local road and more comfortable for cyclists
than streets like Charles and Falls Rd that go out to and access the Beltway.  People should accept that faster cyclists and long distance commuters will often need to use the travel lanes, especially on downhills.
'
     Again, your input is needed at the May 21st Meeting.  Questions, call or email Jeffrey Marks at 410-358-1321; jeffreym715@yahoo.com.

     I agree with Ed Hopkins that the Baltimore City Bicycle Master Plan is fair in allowing the best type of bikeway - whether it be a conventional bikelane or a separated Cycle Track - to be determined on an individual basis - rather than making separated Cycle Tracks the default bikeway, as Bikemore proposed.  Also, one way  Traditional Bikelanes can be improved is by buffering them on each side with painted hatch marks. Buffering would make the bikelane safer and more visible. Currently, many bikelanes are too narrow and placed in the door zone.  Also eliminating parking near intersections and providing a "mixing zone" for right turning traffic to cross the bikelane prior to the intersection and enter a pocket lane next to the curb would reduce right hooks.

    Now that a reasonable compromise has been reached on the Master Plan, we turn our attention to working together to improve bicycling.  I attended Bike Maryland's Symposium and met with Legislative assistants of the 41st District to fully support Bike Maryland's Agenda.  My talking points included supporting legislation (HB 588/SB 547) to improve safety by closing a loophole in the 3' Passing Law that  allows motorists to pass closer when the roadway is narrow, instead of waiting until it's safe to pass.  I also supported the demonstration two way Cycle Track on Maryland Ave that will link Charles Village with Universities and the Inner Harbor.

    In the afternoon Bill Schultesis from Toole Design spoke about Cycle Tracks. He felt that properly designed Cycle Tracks would attract more riders and improve safety, especially for less experienced riders. However, Bill recognized that there are different levels of cyclists and indicated that Cycle Tracks are designed for slower riders and that faster riders should NOT be pressured into using Cycle Tracks.  Bill showed a slide of a Cycle Track along with a Sharrow in the middle of the traffic lane for faster riders.  Bill also said that it's vital that cyclists respect and be careful around pedestrians.  He pointed out that cyclists killed two pedestrians in NY City, causing a backlash against NY's bicycle program.  Bill said he wants pedestrians to be our allies.  With that thought in mind, I resolve to carefully control my speed on Bike Paths and Cycle Tracks (or else use the traffic lanes; where children may abruptly alight from parked cars onto the Cycle Track.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Feb-20-15 01:23 pm
BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

I live in the City and support the Master plan that includes Cycle Tracks, but as Charlie says, I have a problem with Bikemore's Amendment that makes Tracks the default accommodation on not only high speed but also low speed (25 mph) arterials. I too would have liked for Bikemore and Bike Maryland to have approached the BBC and to discuss the Amendment with us. Our Pres had three conversations with the Director of Bike Maryland (BM), and BM never mentioned the Master Plan or the Amendment. Let this be a learning experience for everyone.  (Incidentally, I strongly support Bike Maryland.  The new director  works hard, is knowledgable, and has his hands full with the legislative session, and working with the new Governor and legislature to not only get improvements but also to keep from losing what we have. I also support Bikemore  being a lobbying and advocacy group for beginning cyclists and for promoting bike culture.)  I belong to both groups, as well as the BBC..

      There are different levels of cyclists.  When I grew up the debate was over bikepaths vs wide curblanes vs bikelanes. Generally speaking Begineers and slower cyclists wanted bikepaths, and more experienced and faster cyclists preferred wide curblanes, with conventional bikelanes being a middle ground. Maryland Law made Bikepaths
optional, and bikelanes with limited exceptions were mandatory. Now Cycle Tracks, that are a hybrid of bikepaths and conventional bikelanes, have come into the picture.  Bikemore points to Cycle Tracks in countries like Germany and Denmark, where half the population cycles.  After being destroyed in WWII, many European Cities rebuilt with cyclists in mind and made cycle tracks part of the new infrastructure.  In the U.S we have to fit Tracks into our existing street grid and residents desire for on street parking. In the City people get upset when they lose parking.

      It's natural for different cycling groups, and cyclists within the BBC, to have different preferences; and for experienced cyclists to want to retain wide curblanes and conventional and buffered bikelanes (Painted buffer - not a physical barrier).  Bikemore also has a right to lobby for their constituents who want more emphasis on separate facilities.  Representing all cyclists Bike Maryland should consider the preferences of all its member clubs and if they are divided take no position.  The "gold standard" would be for the clubs to hear each other's positions and try to reach a middle ground.  Negotiations often require an honest broker, as REI did between mountain bikers and the Sierra Club to reach a compromise on cycling on trails/fireroads in the Marin Headlands, CA  and our national forests.

       The BBC should encourage members to read the Master Plan and the Bikemore Amendment and become part of the process. This is our civic duty.  To comment you may email City Bicycle Coordinator at caitlin.doolin@baltimorecity.gov through Thursday, Feb 26.

Feb-19-15 08:37 pm
BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

     Like Charlie Murphy I'm glad to see the BBC become involved in the Bicycle Master Plan.  This comprehensive 94 page Plan is quite informative and makes good reading on these cold, icy days when we can't bike.  Bikemore, with three of its members on the Steering Committe (Chris Merriam, Jed Weeks, and Greg Hinchliff) had a major role in deveoping the Plan.  If you read the Plan, you will see that it's very comprehensive and flexible in the ranges of ways to accommodate bicyclists.  And yes Charlie Cycle Tracks are definitely included.  I'm looking forward to riding the Maryland Ave Track and seeing how it works. Will the Track attract more riders, and will it be safe?  But Charlie, without  experience riding Cycle Tracks and trying this Track when completed, how can you say that Tracks are always the best way to accommodate bicyclists?

      The Master Plan under "Best Practices" states that " Bicycle Lanes are the most universally preferred type of bicycle facility and should be given priority when they can be accommodated on roadways". The Plan  talks about enhancing the bikelane through green paint to improve visibility. And the Plan also illustrates a "Buffered BikeLane" which is a bikelane with an additional painted separation (not a physical barrier) on either side of the bikelane to buffer from car doors and the traffic lane.  I'm in favor of both enhancements.  One problem, as Charlie mentions, is that bikelanes are too narrow and in the door zone.  I would support buffering or widening the bikelane to give cyclists more room. 

       Since Cycle Tracks are already in the Plan and three will be built shortly, I don't see why the Bikemore Amendment that makes Cycle Tracks the default bikeway on arterials where traffic moves over 25 mph is needed.  I'm also concerned that this Amendment may pressure the City into building Cycle Tracks where they aren't the best accommodation.  The City needs to work with the hand they are dealt. Baltimore has an existing street grid with residential, apartment, and commercial driveways.  City residents and businesses depend upon on  street parking.  According to the Master Plan, Cycle Tracks require a lot of space: One Way 6' plus a 2-3 foot painted buffer between parked cars: total 8 - 9'.  Two way: 10' plus a 2 -3' buffer between parked cars: total 10 - 13'.  What happens if the City doesn't have that much space and shoehorns in the Track?  Or if the neighborhood doesn't want to sacrifice parking to make cyclists visible at intersections and driveways?  Unlike being able to leave a conventional bikelane when it's unsafe, the wall of parked cars/vans prohibits cyclists from leaving the Cycle Track. Incidentally I feel that the St Paul bikelane is too narrow and sharrows would have been better.  But when I'm going fast downhill, on a conventional bikelane I merge with cars to avoid problems with car doors, buses, and right turns.  Were it not for the poorly designed bikelane, I would have the freedom to decide whether to ride on the right or lefthand side.

    I'm retired but used to commute 14 miles roundtrip from my home in NW Baltimore City to the State Office Building.  I've lived in the City for 35 years and continue to  bike to Hampden, the Inner Harbor, etc. Some of my recreational rides include the City. I care about people who use their bicycles for transportation.  However, I feel that EDUCATION is the key, along with being conspicuous - wear bright colors or a bright vest and use powerful front and rear rechargeable lights, even in daytime, to help motorists see you.  Be predictable and ride where safe. Stay out of the door zone. Wear a helmet.  Don't drink and bike. Pay attention.  I would like to see Bikemore offer an instructional ride series, similar to what the BBC does.  While Bike Tracks, where feasible, may provide comfort for beginner cyclists and may be helpful where well used, they certainly aren't a total solution. Cyclists still need to learn how to ride safely on the road. I encourage you to comment on the Master Plan through Feb 20.  After that date you may still comment by emailing the City Bicycle Coordinator directly: caitlin.doolin@baltimorecity.gov. 

Feb-18-15 09:17 pm
BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

I commend Ed Hopkins for taking the time to research the Master Plan and see what Bikemore is objecting to.  The Plan follows best practices in providing for conventional bikelanes. The Plan already includes Cycle Tracks.  The 25 mph traffic speed, for which Bikemore wants to amend the Plan to have a separation barrier as the default position, seems  arbitrary to me.  Colliding with or getting run over can be fatal, regardless of the motor vehicle's speed.  While everyone remembers the most recent fatality (Tom Palermo), the other two fatalities (John Yates and Nathan Krasnopolar) were right hooks from turning vehicles moving well under 25 mph. Allowing parking up to each respective intersection was a contributing factor in both crashes.  Also John Yates was incorrectly riding too far right in the narrow parking lane instead of using the travel lane.

      Please look at the images Ed Hopkins provided that give readers a better picture of what Cycle Tracks look like.  At the end of the Jan 28 Master Plan Meeting, I asked Caitlin Doolin, the City Bicycle Coordinator, what type of separation barrier would the City use - poles or parked cars?  Ms Doolin said that since neighborhoods and busineses need parking, the barrier will usually be parked cars.  This concerns me.  The parked cars and vans will likely hide the cyclist, leaving little reaction time to avoid collisons with turning traffic at intersections.  Residents may not want to sacrifice parking to make the Cycle Track safe.  I'm not opposed to Cycle Tracks.  I just want to first see if they work and are safe before "betting the farm" on them.  I'm looking forward to seeing the demonstration Maryland Ave Track.
        I feel the Plan, especially with the Bikemore Amendment mandating Cycle Tracks, relies too much on inflexible facilities and too little on teaching cyclists and motorists to share the road, along with even handed law enforcement.  And speaking of facilities, the conventional bikelanes would be better if they were wider and/or outside the door zone.

Feb-18-15 10:27 am
BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

Again,Barry the BBC isn't opposing Cycle Tracks that are prominently included in the Master Plan.  The club is only opposing the Bikemore Amendment that would mandate Cycle Tracks.  I talked to Barry, and we mutually agree that one problem is that bikelanes are too narrow and have been placed in the door zone of parked cars.  Barry and I both agree that conventional bikelanes would be safer if they were wider and made more conspicuous or buffered by hatch marks on either side.  Both of us are concerned about Cycle Tracks being squeezed between the door zone of parked cars and the curb.  One can leave a bikelane in places were the lane is unsafe, but with the physical barrier, a cyclist may not leave a Cycle Track. While Cycle Tracks protect against rear end collisons, their weakness is that Tracks put cyclists in a position where motorists don't expect them and may increase collisons with cross and turning traffic.  If a lot of cyclists use the Track, Denmark comes to mind, then motorists will learn to look for cyclists.  However, if only a few cyclists use the Track, then motorists may not look for cyclists.  This is one reason I want the City to proceed slowly and see where Tracks would increase the number of cyclists and construct Tracks in those areas where they would be safe.
 
     Last but not least, the Plan is very weak on calming traffic, education, and police enforcement.  Motorists have the wrong idea that it's normal to drive 10 - 15 mph over the speed limit.  Cyclists have the misconception that they don't need to obey traffic laws or must always ride on the righthand edge or in the door zone of parked cars.  Police feel it's not their job to enforce traffic laws and traffic safety and only stop people, whether it be motorists or bicyclists, who do the most flagrant violations.  This attitude needs to change.  When I grew up in the 60's and 70's, it was normal to bicycle on the roads.  Last but not least, cyclists do what we can control.  Ride predictably, pay attention, obey traffic laws, and be conspicuous. To make up for our small size, wear bright colors (or a bright vest) and use powerful front and rear lights.  The Master Plan should be designed for all cyclists.  Please click on the Plan and Comment!

Feb-15-15 02:00 pm
BBC Board Votes to Support Baltimore City Bicycle Master Plan without Bikemore Amendment
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

     I support Baltimore's Bicycle Master Plan and like the Plan's flexibility in having a range of ways to accommodate bicyclists. The Plan includes Bicycle Boulevards like Guilford Ave,giving bicyclists priority on certain residential and secondary streets, Bike Trails like Gwynns and Jones Falls Trail, Cycle Tracks (soon to be build Maryland Ave, Guilford Ave & Roland Ave Tracks) buffered bikelanes (painted hatch marks to keep bikelanes out of door zone of parked cars and provide add'l separation from traffic lane), and yes conventional bikelanes.  I like all these facilities and want the City to have a balanced Plan that considers the needs of all levels of cyclists and different street configurations.  I would like for the City to have the flexibility to see works best in different situations. I'm not opposed to Bike Tracks.  I just want to be conservative and see if they work, or if they work better in some types of streets than others, before making them the Master Plan's centerpiece.  At first glance it may seem nice to have a barrier, like parked cars, between cyclists and traffic lanes; but how about intersections and driveways, right and left turning traffic, etc?  Calling these facilities "PROTECTED" bikelanes sounds to me like calling a ship   unsinkable. 

       Asking cyclists to accept the Bikemore Amendment that makes Cycle Tracks the City's default position on virtually all arterials, and not having ridden on Cycle Tracks, is asking a lot. While I haven't cycled in Washington, DC; I've bicycled extensively during the last two summers in west coast bicycle friendly cities including Palo Alto and Silicon Valley, CA ; Seattle, WA, Victoria, BC; Vancouver, BC; and #1 Portland, OR.  In each City I rode on residential streets improved for cyclists w/ sharrows, gradual humps, & responsive signals, bicycle boulevards, bikepaths paralleling freeway, and yes wide curblanes and conventional bikelanes.  I liked all these facilities. In Portland I was comfortable and found I could make better time on arterial streets with conventional bikelanes, but separate paths were more fun on weekdays.  I didn't come across any streets with Cycle Tracks, but that doesn't mean there weren't any.  And I understand cities are starting to build them.  Again, I'm not opposed. JUST SHOW ME THEY WORK.  Cycle Tracks are already included in the Plan, and I don't see any reason to amend the Plan to give Cycle Tracks priority over other ways of accommodating cyclists, incl conventional and buffered bikelanes.  For this reason, I oppose the Bikemore Amendment that would limit the City's flexibility.  Rather than being mandated on arterials,  Cycle Tracks should have the opportunity to be considered along with conventional and buffered bikelanes, etc. Cycle Tracks should be required to compete on their merits with other facilities, rather than being mandated by the Bikemore Amendment.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Feb-14-15 10:31 am
BBC Board Votes to Support Baltimore City Bicycle Master Plan without Bikemore Amendment
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

      The BBC Board has voted to support the 2015 Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan without the restrictive Bikemore Amendment that would make separated Cycle Tracks the cornerstone of the Plan.  The Master Plan allows the City the flexibility on the best way to accommodate bicyclists.  The Bikemore Amendment would limit that flexibility by making a Cycle Track the default position on all arterials, even when the posted speed is only 25 MPH.  Cycle Tracks would be one or two way and located between parked cars and the curb.  While this may sound good at first glance, what about intersections and driveways?  Cyclists would be located to the right of parked cars and  where turning traffic doesn't expect them.  Also passengers exiting parked cars and buses, plus deliveries, would have to cross the Cycle Track to reach the curb. Let's preserve Vehicular Style Cycling and the option for the City to accommodate cyclists on arterials with Wide Curblanes and conventional AASHTO bikelanes. For further details read the other Posts by BBC Pres Ed Cahill and Ed Hopkins.  For complete details click on the advocacy section. 
       Your comments are urgently needed.  Ed Hopkins post has a direct link to the Master Plan. (Take care NOT to use Janet Goldstein's post that incorrectly links you to Bikemore's website).  The BBC Board encourages you to comment in favor of the Plan and to oppose the restrictive Bikemore Amendment.  The comment period may end as soon as Friday, Feb 20.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Feb-06-15 11:00 pm
Bikemore is Advocating Separate Paths instead of Proper Bikelanes
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

I'm having difficulty getting a direct link to Comment on the Master Plan.  Your comment should go to the City, rather than Bikemore.  Right now the easiest way to comment is to search for the Plan under : Transportation/Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan 2015.  Once you access the Plan just go to Comments on the front page.  Unless you wish, you don't need to get into the 94 page plan.  Thanks for your patience and your help.

Jeffrey

Feb-06-15 03:11 pm
Bikemore is Advocating Separate Paths instead of Proper Bikelanes
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

            Bikemore has contacted the City requesting a key change to the 2015 Bicycle Master Plan. This change that Bikemore is proposing would replace the standard location of a bikelane (between parked cars and traffic lane) to between parked cars and curb.  On arterial streets, even when the speed limit is only 25 mph, Bikemore wants the City to modify its Year 2015 Bicycle Master Plan's default  position to change the standard bikelane design;  where a physical barrier (i.e - parked cars) separates the traffic lanes from the bikelane.

        Most of Bikemore's members are under 35 and haven't seen the hazards of putting a bikepath into a developed area with many cross streets, driveways, pedestrians exiting cars onto the sidewalk, etc. Bikemore's members have missed all the research and advocacy work cyclists did over the last 35 years to develop guidelines for Bikelanes and vehicular style cycling.  A few cities are experimenting with Cycle Tracks and have done extensive work in developing a few miles.  That's OK - Baltimore will have a Cycle Track on Md Ave soon, and I'm interested in seeing how it works.  But placing the bikeway between parked cars and the curb, as a Cycle Track does, should be the exception, not the rule.  It's dangerous to exchange the conventional bikelane for a Cycle Track, as the Master Plan's default position.

  Let the City know that you favor retaining Standard Bikelanes that are located between parked cars and the traffic lanes.  Standard Bikelanes should be the default position, including  arterials, in the Master Plan.  To access the Master Plan and comment, click on the Year 2015 Bicycle Master Plan Comments Search.  Since the two week comment period ends on February 11, please act quickly.  It's important that the City  hear from experienced cyclists who prefer vehicular style cycling, in developing a balanced and safe Plan.

Jeffrey H. Marks
     

 

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