Biking in Baltimore: Where are the bike lanes and who uses them?

Written by on January 23, 2013 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

A Class II, marked bike lane on Conkling St. Photo by Erik Zygmont

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Last week, the Baltimore Department of Transportation conducted its tri-annual Bike Count, a tally of the number of cyclists crossing major intersections around the city.

The department takes a count every January, May, and September.

For the count, volunteers stand at designated intersections and count cyclists, noting the direction they come from, the direction they are going, their gender, and whether they are wearing a helmet.

Baltimore Guide reporter Danielle Sweeney participated in the winter count, monitoring the intersection of Aliceanna, Boston, and Van Lill St.—the intersection by Captain James Landing and Sip and Bite—from 4-6 p.m. on a cold, rainy Thursday.

The other intersections being counted were Pratt and Market streets; Falls Rd. and Maryland Ave.; Guilford and Mount Royal avenues; and Keswick Rd. and Wyman Park Dr.

The Guide spoke to Nate Evans, Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner for DOT, for more information on the Bike Count and on biking in Baltimore.

Why does the city count at Aliceanna and Boston streets?

Evans: Many cyclists from Canton to Harbor East/Downtown use Boston and Aliceanna or Fleet streets. We’ve been counting there for a few years now. Aliceanna has been a designated Class III bicycle route, and it’s important to see if the designation is encouraging people to bike. This location is also a “pinch point” for the Southeast Bike Network.

What is a Class III bicycle route?

Per national standards, all bike facilities are classified I, II or III.  Class I is an off-street path, like most sections of the Jones Falls or Gwynns Falls Trail.  Class II is a marked bike lane—like on Caroline, Highland, Conkling or President streets.  Class III is a route designated as a bike route but without bike lanes.  “Sharrows”—the white, shared-lane markings on the road—and way-finding signs guide cyclists along Aliceanna, which is part of a bike route that extends from the Inner Harbor to Brewer’s Hill via Fait Ave.

What is the Southeast Bike Network?

The Southeast Bike Network was developed in 2010 to cover the city between the harbor, Baltimore St. and Haven St.

What do you mean by a pinch point?

A pinch point is a location where the roads come together.  With the angle of the harbor and Boston St., cyclists coming from Canton to downtown take either  Aliceanna, Fleet or Eastern.  Counting at Aliceanna and Boston helps us get an idea for the amount of bike traffic passing through the area.

What does the city use the Bike Count data for?

We use the data to track the increase in bike commuters and see if facility improvements are working.  More bike traffic means they’re working; no real change means we’ll need to look at improvements.

Has bike traffic increased at the Aliceanna and Boston intersection?

There’s been a steady increase at Aliceanna and Boston.  I’ve had local cyclists tell me they ride on the promenade in this area because they feel safer.  (This section of the waterfront promenade is currently off limits to cyclists).

Will Canton Crossing, the new shopping development, bring any bike-related improvements to Boston St. or Canton?

Canton Crossing will not bring bike improvements to Boston Street or Canton, but the Red Line will. Bike lanes are planned as part of the Red Line improvements to Boston Street.  The MTA and DOT have been working with the Canton community in planning those improvements.

What specifics can you tell us?

With Boston Street being completely redesigned with the Red Line, plans are still in the preliminary engineering phase, but bike lanes will be added from Hudson St. to Conkling St. Extending the bike lanes further east or west will require more review.

by Danielle Sweeney

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