Monthly Archive for August, 2010

“Bike Bills” Update

Yesterday’s work session & vote on 3 of the bike bills went smoothly and with little debate.  Attending the Community Development Subcommittee meeting were Councilmembers Cole, Stokes, Kraft & bills sponsor Mary Pat Clarke.  Several members of Baltimore’s cycling community were present as well.

The 3 bills passed by the Community Development subcommitte include:

09-0175R Informational Hearing – Baltimore Police Department – Police and Cyclists
09-0430 Transit and Traffic – Bike Lanes
09-0431 City Streets – Bike-Safe Grates

09-0175R passed without debate with the official hearing being held sometime in October

09-0430 passed with one amendment citing not only the Manual for Uniform Traffic Contral Devices (MUTCD) for the creation of bike lanes, but also “other nationally recognized standards” which will include NACTO’s “Urban Bikeway Design Guide”.  There was limited debate on the amount of the fine set at $75, (an increase over the proposed $50 fine) whereas a Blocking and Obstructing Traffic fine carries $250.  While the cycling community does support a higher fine, the non-cycling community does not.  Also, Councilman Cole stated that police would more likely write a $75 ticket over a $250 ticket. 

09-0431 also passed without debate.

These bills will be presented to City Council on Monday, September 20th, 5 pm at City Hall.

For more coverage on these bills, visit Baltimore Brew

Baltimore Design Conversation #23 – PARKING

Join an open discussion on parking, cities and urban design with Greg Hinchliffe (Chairman, Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee), Shannon Sanders McDonald, author of “The Parking Garage” and Klaus Phillipse, AIA

Wednesday, September 1, 6-8 pm at The Windup Space, 12 W. North Avenue

Free conversation, cash bar, all are welcome!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Shannon speak to the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.  I never knew the subject of “parking” could be so interesting.  As Greg travels the world, he returns with stories on how other countries address bike parking.  Never a dull moment!

Bicycle Traffic Counts

When looking to include bike lanes in road projects, the #1 counter point I hear is: “There’s too much traffic there.”   The Department of Transportation knows how much vehicular traffic is on a given road because it is counted…literally.  That’s what we need to do with bicycle traffic.  Here’s your chance to help!

COUNT THOSE BIKES!  Do we have more people riding this year?  Is Baltimore becoming more bike friendly?  Putting the numbers to the general observation that, yes, more people are riding will quantify our progress.

Bicycle Traffic Verifiers are needed to help count the bikes on September 7th through 10th from 6:30 – 8:30 am and 4 – 6 pm at

  • Falls Rd & Maryland Avenue
  • Guilford Ave & Mt. Royal Ave
  • Frederick Ave & Gwynns Falls Trail
  • Aliceanna St & Boston St

Any time you can help out is greatly appreciated! Last year’s verifiers counted a daily average 250 BIKES per commute time! Let’s see if we’re doing any better this year.  We’ll compare counts taken last year from this same time to determine the increase.  As the bicycle network expands, so will our count locations.

Please click here to sign up.  I’ll provide more information this week to volunteers.

Bike Envy

Growing up in Middle River, my folks surprised my sister & I one Christmas with matching “his & her” bikes.  The old HUFFY Sante Fe was a decent kid’s bike with a southwest pattern & banana seat that I rode for many years.  I was grateful for the bike and put a ton of miles on it, pedaling throughout Hawthorne, into Aero Acres, out to Glenmar, around Martin Marietta and occasionally over to Middlesex & Essex.

A couple years later, my folks hooked by brother up with a HUFFY Pro Thunder.  They might as well bought him a Redline, or Ferrari.  This bike was sleek, all silver, padding on handlebars & frame and didn’t have a chain guard.  Needless to say, I was a bit envious. It wasn’t but another year or so until I purchased a Magna 10-speed so whatever.  But at the time, sure, a little jealous.

Fast forward to me as the dad with 2 boys of my own.  My older son took to biking early on and was soon turning heads as the 1st grader on the Mongoose from Target who was jumping ramps with the 5th graders.  My younger son was not a excited about biking.  We got him a tiny bike when he was 4, but didn’t show much interest.  For his 6th birthday, we got him a bigger bike that he would be able to ride thoughout elementary school.  Needless to say, our older son was not happy.  What’s a dad to do?  I’m not dropping serious coin on a bike he’ll outgrow pretty soon anyway.

Hibernating in the recesses of my parents garage lay the ProThunder.  It managed to survive several purgings, which is more than I can say for the Sante Fe.  Despite some minor rust, the ProThunder was in pretty good shape.  I used the last of last Christmas’ gift certificate from a local bike shop on new tires, tubes, pedals and a chain.   It’s a common misconception that I’m a bike mechanic.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I heavily rely on professional bike mechanics to do it right the first time and save myself a ton of frustration.  But some minor repairs?  Sure, I can do that.

After a good rubbing with steel wool, a lube and replacing the rusty and rotting parts, the ProThunder was in running order.  My older son was pretty happy with his upgrade as my younger son is taking nicely to his bike.

…and all is right with the world….

“Whatcha up to this weekend?”

There’s no shortage of bike-related stuff to do this weekend in B’more.

Tonight, Critical Mass rides from the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon at 7pm.

Tomorrow, the free Bike Swap Meet happens at The Hexagon from 12 to 5pm featuring demonstrations by members of Twenty20 Cycling, Baltimore Bike Works, Velocipede and a discussion of the politics of biking from members of Red Emmas Cafe and Books Co-Op. You can come out and buy, sell or swap your used parts and bikes – there are no vendor fees and no entrance fees – just an open donation container if you happen to have bucks left over after a great sale or buy.

Sunday, the weekly Bike Bmore rides from Fells Point at 9:00 am.

Monday, the Baltimore City Council’s Community Development Subcommittee will hold a work session & vote on THREE BIKE-RELATED BILLS!

09-0175R Informational Hearing – Baltimore Police Department – Police and Cyclists
09-0430 Transit and Traffic – Bike Lanes
09-0431 City Streets – Bike-Safe Grates

The work and voting sessions are open to the public on Monday, August 30th, 2:30 pm on the 4th Floor City Council Chambers in City Hall.

Everyone have a safe & enjoyable weekend!

Moonlight Madness Review

Taking a break at the Moorish Tower, Druid Hill (Another great photo by Tim Barnett)

Last night, a group of about 200 cyclists gathered at City Hall for this year’s Bob Moore Memorial Moonlight Madness Ride.  It didn’t take us long to get organized and we rolled out at 8:15 through the famous neon of 400 E. Baltimore St.  The cyclists’ presence was making a difference immediately.  Cheers came up from the local crowd as bike bells echoed.

No bike ride is complete without experiencing a car parking in the Pratt St bike lane.  I can guarentee the two offenders last night will think twice before parking there again.  Around the harbor and into Federal Hill, more cheers came up from the crowds along Cross St.  Continuing up Charles St, I was amazed (and proud) to see the fleet of cyclists “staying to the right and keeping it tight!” allowing vehicular traffic to pass on the left.

We took several breaks along the way for regroup and refresh: Fed Hill, Penn Station, Moorish Tower, & Dolphin St. 

25th St Bike Traffic (Photo by Anna Ricklin)

When I designed this route, I wanted to keep it short to encourage beginners, but also go where cyclists normally do not ride.  The highlight of the ride for me was interacting with the communities enjoying a cool summer night on the stoops of Madison Ave, Chase St and Broadway.  Kids came out to slap hands, pleasantries were exchanged and some awe was struck in the locals seeing the stream of blinking lights, hearing the swirl of freehubs as Baltimore’s bike community rolled through.  Even Baltimore’s finest seemed pleasantly surprised at the sight.

Given the recent bike news, this is what Baltimore needed, and not just the cyclists: A show of community that the streets can be safe for cyclists, pedestrians and residents alike.  This ride also showed the cyclists can share the road responsibly with cars and minimally affect traffic.

A repeated comment I heard last night: “We need to do this more often!”  Let’s plan on it.

Did you ride last night or see the ride?  What did ya think?

Growing Pains

Last week wasn’t the best week to be a cyclist in Baltimore, but this week is already proving to be better with the help of the media. With some good old fashion press and Web 2.0, Baltimore cyclists have jumped into an honest conversation about local riding conditions. While most of the feedback was negative in nature, it really helped me do my job better.

Thanks to Liam Quigley & Baltimore Brew for giving a rider’s perspective on bike routes in central Baltimore. The comments on the article were incredibly helpful and pointed out a life lesson that I learned 12 years ago when I had the chance fulfill a life-long dream and hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

People from all walks of life and corners of the earth come to Georgia each spring to put one foot in front of the other until you summit Katahdin. A common theme on the trail is “Hike Your Own Hike!” What that means is that in those 2,168 miles, no two people are going to walk the trail in the same way.

So it is with biking – no two cyclists are going to ride the same way which definitely makes my job a little challenging at times. (Some like Charles, others Calvert, most like Guilford but many have their doubts.) There are even folks that did my job for me. The other week, a bike lane appeared around the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon.

THANKS GUERRILLA BIKE LANE! (Click the picture for the video)

Bike Planner Wanted!!!

Let there be no doubt that I love my job!  Given the workload and sometimes overwhelming challenge of adapting Baltimore to bikes, it tends to be too much for just one person.  Well, no longer!  The Department of Transportation has an opening for a part-time bicycle planner on a contractual basis.  The position will allow for 20 hours of work per week without benefits.

The qualified applicant will:

  1. have a basic civil engineering background, specifically signing & marking plans
  2. have experience with CAD (preferably MicroStation) and ArcGIS
  3. be an advanced (“pioneer”) cyclist and have a firm grasp of safe cycling practices
  4. be able to represent the City of Baltimore and Department of Transportation in a professional and responsible manner
  5. have a strong work ethic & be a fast learner!

Duties will include

1.  Performing feasibility studies for bicycle infrastructure including but not limited to evaluating pavement conditions, vehicular traffic data, active transportation traffic data and existing roadway design while providing support and assistance to engineering staff.

2. Preparing engineering plans, specifications and cost estimates of on-road bicycle facilities.  Reviewing constructions documents for bicycle accommodations.

3. Coordinating the expansion of bike parking across the city, designing bike parking facilities when necessary

4. Working with governmental and community groups to maximize bicycle facility potential

5. Utilizing GIS database to identify areas of improvement within the bicycle network and updating facilites as they are installed.

If this sounds like you, please send your resume and references to Nate Evans at

Strange Days for Bikes in B’more

Your eyes do not deceive you! New Madison Avenue bike lane (Photo by Tim Barnett)

The past few days in Baltimore have had its ups and downs.  I could go off on a philosophical soliloquy which would include Native American fables, Taoism and the teachings of Jesus.  I’ll keep it simple: Like The Dude says, “Strikes and gutters!”

As good and bad as all these are, they do not compare to the pain Joshua Blackwell’s family is feeling.  12 year old Joshua lost his life yesterday in a bike collision with a vehicle at Lyndhurst Avenue & Windsor Mill Road.

Thoughts & prayers with Joshua’s family & friends!

Speedy recovery Michael!  (May those who took your bike realize too late it was a fixie)

FOLLOWUP:  I received word that the Madison Ave bike lanes will be replaced with straighter lines!

Have You Seen This Bike?

Our friend Michael Byrne got tackled at 20th and Charles last night and had his bike stolen.  Please keep an eye out for:

Blue Falcon, Fixed, Silver riser bars w/ red oury grips (pictured here)

If you see it on Craigslist, in pawnshops, or around town, call Michael at 503.715.7148

BE CAREFUL IN THIS AREA  – I have now heard 3 stories of cyclists getting jumped here