Cycling Super Hero Ken checks in with a report on the Baltimore Cycling Master Plan. Big thanks to him and Paul for attending and getting the details. See the previous entry for links to the plan and how to comment. Comments need to be in by February 2nd.
With the trails too wet to ride, the usual Wednesday night ride was a tempting ride into Columbia for some Mexican food and good beer at Frisco Burrito TM, but I had serious business to take care of this night. The City of Baltimore was unveiling the Master Bicycle Plan in a public meeting. As I was almost ran over again earlier in the day, some impatient motorist deciding to try to drive around a bus at the last moment, in the intersection right in front of where the meeting was to be held, I felt it was worth the time to attend.
As anyone who has worked with politicians knows, numbers count, so I swung by Paulís apartment in Fells Point to assemble the troops. We were a bit early, so we cranked a couple of blocks over to Patterson Park for a couple of laps. The climb on the back side of the park always hurts and tonight was no different. It doesnít look like it should hurt like that.
Time was getting tight, so we bombed down Lombard Street, and with a minimum of wrong turns arrived with a few minutes to spare. Of course there was only one bike rack out front, and since this was a bike related meeting it was full up. Luckily Paul and I both brought locks, so we commandeered a parking meeting and all was well. After running the gauntlet of nonprofit literature handouts we reviewed the four large size maps of the proposed official bike routes for Baltimore. The first showed the routes suggested for immediate implementation, about 130 miles. The second showed all of the proposed bike routes. Some routes have serious issues to be overcome before they can be installed. The third was a blow up of Downtown because there are mostly problem routes downtown and I forget what the fourth was, so it could not have been that different. Paul found a seat, but I decided to stand in the back.
There were the obligatory speeches from the heads of several departments then it was down to business. The main points from the City were that they are committed to make Baltimore a bike friendly City and that with the master plan adopted the City can be held accountable for the implementation of the plan. Most of the presentation was given by the Cityís bicycle commuting consultant. The consultantís main points were that Baltimore is not now even remotely bike friendly, but that there are Cities that are worse. There are challenges due to the layout of the streets in the City. They did try to select direct routes and low traffic routes. Where there was a high traffic direct route, they selected the direct route rather than send bikers all over the place to go a few blocks. Training of law enforcement on the laws about biking is a must as there is currently no training on this issue. And finally that a mix of treatments were selected to designate bike routes including signing alone. I still have no idea what riding on a signed bike route gets you.
There were several periods for comments from the audience. The comments ran the gambit from the accusation that the layout was prejudice and biased to suggestions to time lights for bikes so that people can get through an intersection if they enter it legally. There were several suggestions on routes that were left out of the plan and several comments that sections of the routes look convoluted. Most of the comments were addressed, the few that were outstanding were noted so that they could be addressed in the final revision of the plan. With the admonishment that public comments were due no later than February 2nd ringing in our ears Paul and I headed back out to the street to try to grab some more miles before heading home. We decided to crank out to Fort McHenry and back. I disconnected my lock from the bike stack, but Paul had to curse at his for about 20 minutes. Luckily some guy leaving the meeting late had a leatherman we were able to beat Paulís lock into submission with, or out bikes would still be attached to that meter. It was a beautiful night for a ride, so the trek to the fort and back was the perfect cap for the evening.