Ciclovia: Baltimore Cycles into the Future

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Biking wins. It’s stylish — Bill Cunningham, beloved 80-year-old fashion photographer at The New York Times shoots from his cycle, his sartorial subjects frequently snappy dressers on bikes themselves. It’s environmentally sound and free of charge — thanks to The Atlantic, we know that bike commuting is on the rise in Baltimore, and around the country. It’s rock ‘n’ roll. And globally adored. In Baltimore-native David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, we learned that many international cities — Buenos Aires, Istanbul, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Manila, New York — are quite bicycle-friendly. And better enjoyed (and more closely observed) on two wheels, the breeze in your hair.

Unfortunately, biking’s still dangerous, even when you’re coasting in the designated bike lane. Earlier this year, 20-year-old Nathan Krasnopoler was struck on University Parkway — he later died. We were glad to read at least that police in Anne Arundel County have recently begun cracking down more strictly on motorists who threaten cyclists’ safety. (We hope to see more much-needed safety lanes painted for cyclists in years to come, as well as stronger laws to protect them.)

But did you know? Biking’s also very Roland Park. R.P. boasts the oldest, safest, and most picturesque biking paths in the city, and has four years running hosted Ciclovia, a bike movement that began in Bogota, Colombia, where the majority of citizens do not own cars and instead cycle to work. (See video on our homepage.)

Yesterday’s local Ciclovia brought several hundred cyclists–kids and adults–and walkers and runners, too, many with gleeful dogs on leashes, everybody moving together along the southbound side of Roland Avenue, between Cold Spring and Northern Parkway, which was officially closed to motorists between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Easy tunes were provided by Mambo Combo and Teachers for Sale, the latter consisting of actual instructors from area schools. (Teachers drew a healthy crowd of listeners, who may or may not have exercised beyond swaying their hips.) Cute how both bands stationed their gigs in front of the library. Another charmer: Joe’s Bikes was on hand filling tires free of charge.

Neighborhood volunteer Maria Salvato told us she saw more training wheels in motion this year than in years past. She said the only overall snag involved some frustration by drivers trying to reach a lacrosse clinic at Roland Park Country School, and having to make a long detour. “We cost 50 drivers 20 minutes each,” Salvato said. “I do wish they’d been able to U-turn.”

Here’s hoping nobody’s too put out by the very cool event, and that Ciclovia rolls many years to come. May those cyclists-in-training continue to teach our town to share the road and aim to save the planet.

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  1. By now, ciclovias are part of our community’s fabric. But keep an eye out for a new citywide ciclovia program for Baltimore called BMore Streets for People, coming to a neighborhood near you in 2012.

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