Baltimore City is finally getting serious about supporting cyclists: As the Baltimore Sun reports, in the next few months the city will see its first bike sharing program (Charm City Bikeshare), the installation of 500 new bike racks, and a whole bunch of new bike infrastructure programs.
One of the biggest game-changers could be the plan to install several miles worth of cycle tracks along Maryland Avenue and other major Mt. Vernon streets. (You can check out the proposed map below the jump.) Cycle tracks are different from regular old bike lanes in that there’s an actual physical buffer between parked cars and the bike lane. That means that cars can’t double park/swerve/otherwise intrude on bike lane space. An excellent idea, right?
But as anyone who’s driven through Mt. Vernon during rush hour could tell you, traffic there can get pretty miserable. And because it’s not really possible to widen the roads, one travel lane will be turned into a parking lane, while the space between the curb and the parked cars will become the cycle tracks.
The DOT did a study and found that “with minor adjustments… these roadways will operate normally,” even with the reduced lanes for traffic. There will also not be any real loss of parking spaces. I find that a little hard to wrap my head around, but then again I’m not a transportation expert.
In the end, though, a Baltimore that’s safer for bikers is better for us all. I’m sure there are lots of Baltimoreans out there who are like me, in that they’d be happy to bike around town, if only the cars weren’t so terrifying. Cycle tracks would make that a much more attractive prospect. And who knows? Maybe after a week of sitting in terrible Mt. Vernon traffic jams, some of those car commuters will realize that biking is a cheaper, more fun, and often quicker option.
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