Monthly Archive for September, 2010

“Cities for Cycling” Preview

What should you expect at this week’s “CITIES FOR CYCLING” events?

Check out the STREETFILMS coverage of C4C in Boston!

Don’t forget to RSVP on SOCIALIZR

September 2010 Bike Count Results

First, I’d like to thank the many bicycle traffic verifiers that stepped up and helped collect this data!  So many people signed up that I was able to match up 2 people per location and time in most cases.  This not only helped get more accurate numbers, but helped build the bike community of Baltimore.

OK, the numbers:

1. Overall, 1354 bikes were counted over a 4 day period between September 7th and September 10th!

2. The highest bike count occurred at Falls Rd & Maryland Ave where 82 bikes rode by on Wednesday, Sept. 8th between 6:30 and 8:30 am.

3. During the same week in 2009, counts showed an average 250 cyclists a day.  In 2010, 339 cyclists a day were counted!  That’s a 35.6% INCREASE!

In addition to the numbers, I got to hear some cool stories from those counting.  Tiffany James told me a lady rode by her shouting “I’m being counted!”  Brian Laird also indicated that several cyclists acknowledged his efforts in the counts.  I also had quite a few folks upset that we weren’t counting in their area.  Not to worry, as the bike network expands, so will our count locations.  If you have a spot that could use some counts, just comment below.  Extending the morning counts to 9am was also recommended as many cyclists were observed after 8:30.

We’re going to perform bike counts again in January.  Yes, January.   If we’re seeing an increase during the fair weather, let’s set the baseline for the foul weather. 

Thanks again for everyone that helped out and made this increase in bike traffic verifiable!

Cycling in China

Today’s blog comes from Renee Samuels, who works with Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood & Economic Development.  Renee has been helping me promote cycling in Baltimore by setting up bike tours & presentations. 

When I traveled to China in early September, I jumped at the chance to see Shanghai at night, by bicycle. I have never enjoyed a guided tour as much as I have by bicycle!

First, it’s so fast for getting around. You see everything around you up close (including pink scooters). You’ll get off the main roads, travel the side alleys and still manage to work off all the extra calories you’ve taken in eating the local food. We only had full days in the city, and limited touring time, Elizabeth and I wanted to make the most of it. Everyone bikes in Shanghai. It’s eye opening.

I’ve never seen so many bicycles on the road nor amenities for cyclists. Real parking. Real biking lanes. Roadside bicycle repairs. And no helmets to mess up your hair.  Babies and children on the backs of bikes. Or, in between their parents legs on the scooter. People rode side saddle on the backs of bikes and scooters too.


In Shanghai, we used China Cycle Tours for a 3:00 pm. to 10:00 pm night tour. This gave me enough time to go fabric shopping at the cloth market in the morning and let the humidity and heat cool off. Plus, Shanghai is beautiful at night. We went through Wen Mia, the only Confucian temple in Shanghai; Xintandi which is a former Jewish settlement and now eight acre shopping center (think the small streets of Prague); the Dong Tai Road Antique Market, and the Bund.

The Bund makes NYC’s skyline look like a nightlight.

It’s remarkable simply the way a city of 20 million moves people around the area. Traffic would be completely gridlocked if everyone on bicycle, electric scooter, e-bike or mass transit decided they should have a car and drive. There are totally separate and protected bike lines all over the city. There is bicycle parking everywhere. And, I mean everywhere you look. Scooters, cars, bikes and pedestrians truly share the road. What I found most enlightening is that bicycles are an absolutely common form of transportation and way to move cargo.

The best part though? My new bicycle parka! I became obsessed with getting one of these after seeing them in a photo there. It covers both you and the bike and has holes and cuffs to keep our hands dry over the handle bars. It has little clips to attach to the bike to prevent it from riding / blowing up in your face.. I actually kind of want it to rain so I can wear it out now that I’m back home in Baltimore:).

Critical Mass Review

CM rolling up Charles St

Last night, 50 or so cyclists took to the streets of Baltimore for a relatively peaceful ride.  I have avoided Critical Mass in the past as it took on a confrontation tone with motorists.  Those who generally organize the event went so far as to release flyers to help improve the ride’s image stressing “keeping it tight” and “ride like grandma.”   OK, so I’ll give it another shot.

The normal starting place of the Washington Monument was unavailable due to the Book Festival. So we meet a couple blocks north at Charles and Read where the street was still closed for the event.  Even before the ride started, hecklers from both sides of the deraileur started up.  Riding up Charles St. was fairly peaceful and cars were allowed to pass the group.  The highlight of my evening occured when a young, male driver in a BMW “had” to run a red light without yielding the right of way to the bike that was in front of him. I was riding that bike! 

From there, we went up Falls Rd to the switchbacks and up around Druid Lake.  The ride went by the Keswick, Sission, Wyman Park intersection where it appears I need to go measure the bike box.  (It doesn’t appear to be as big as it should be.  If anyone can get out there before Monday and do a quick measure between the bike stop bar and the vehicular stop bar, I would appreciate it.)  We continued around Hopkins over 33rd to St. Paul where the group ditched my wife and I at 32nd St.   So much for the “mass” part. 

I think its going to be awhile before I participate in another Critical Mass ride, although I do have another ride in the works:  B’more Spooky Halloween Ride, Saturday October 30th!  Same rules as the Moonlight Madness Ride

“Bike Bills” Update (and then some)

Last night the Baltimore City Council moved forward on 3 of the “Bike Bills”:

  • 09-0175R   Informational Hearing – Baltimore Police Department – Police & Cyclists PASSED.   This clears the way for the official hearing between the police department & area cyclists.  This event should take place in October and will be advertised when scheduled.
  • 09-0430  Transit & Traffic – Bike Lanes PASSED 2nd READER!  Amendments to the fine imposed ($75) for parking in a bike lane and definition of a bike lane were added during committee.  Barring any further amendments, this bill will be voted on for passage during the next Council meeting
  • 09-0431  City Streets – Bike-Safe Grates PASSED 2nd READER!  Barring any further amendments, this bill will be voted on for passage during the next Council meeting

Tonight, the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meets in the city’s Planning Department (8th Floor, 417 E. Fayette St.) at 6pm for the September meeting.  All are welscome to attend!

Tomorrow, September 22nd (Carfree Day) Bikestravaganza: Off the Chainring Tour comes to Baltimore for 2 gigs!   Elly Blue and Joe Biel bring an interactive, multimedia traveling roadshow bike summit with bikes, movies, zines, books, debate, and problem solving.

From 1pm – 2pm Rangos Building (855 North Wolfe St), Room 490 on the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus

From 6pm – 8pm at The Windup Space, 12 W North Ave ($3-10 sliding scale at the door)

Reflections on Chattanooga

As much as I would have liked to have blogged from Chattanooga, it just wasn’t possible.  If ever you get a chance to attend ProWalk ProBike, you’ll find that it packed with good stuff!   I could go on about all the rich education I picked up in conferences, but I’ll stick to the city.  (Besides, who wants to see pix of lecturers etc.)

The Riverwalk along the Tennessee River

I took one mobile workshop in Chattanooga which gave a good overview of some of the things they’re doing to make biking easier.  I noticed several comparisons to B’more as they’re most notable path runs along the waterfront and a moderately industrial town with little to no population after working hours. (Jane Jacobs would not be proud.)  The Riverwalk is a gorgeous promenade along the Tennessee River some 13 miles from downtown to Bluff View and into upstream residential areas.  Well engineered switchbacks and glass bridges connected the Aquarium to the Art Museum and even a wastewater treatment facility.

Chattanooga capitalized on its PWPB status by having numerous vendors descend on the city and install their products to showcase in the field.   Automated counters, green bike lanes and textured bike lanes were shown off, but only in short segments and conveniently close to the convention center.  I was impressed with two features that would be useful in Baltimore.

Looking down the Walnut St. Bridge

The Walnut Street Bridge is a truss bridge originally used for vehicular traffic but converted to pedestrian use 10 years ago.  The bridge spans the Tennessee linking downtown to parks and commerce on the north shore.  I couldn’t help but think of the CSX Bridge over the Middle Branch (or any pedestrian bridge spanning the Jones Falls Valley)

The other cool feature was an activated alert to vehicular traffic that bikes were present in the Cherokee Blvd tunnel.  Cyclists rode by, hit the signal which was at the curb and continued pedalling thru the 100′ long tunnel.  This would be incredibly useful on the Hanover St bridge!

Then there was this other sign, not unique (quite standard in the MUTCD) but still useful

Save A Limb Bike Ride & Festival



The SAVE A LIMB BIKE RIDE & FESTIVAL comes to Oregon Ridge Park, Sunday October 17th!  A 6, 15, 30 mile or metric century ride takes you though Maryland’s countryside while raising funds for someone with limb or joint deformity!

Register online and visit   

Going Carfree in Baltimore

Baltimore’s DOT is fortunate to have Mark Brown as a transportation planner.  Mark’s dedication to creating a more vibrant and livable city goes beyond the 9-5.  He recently went car-free and now he’s blogging about his experiences at   What pushed him to this decision?  Here’s what he says…..

I’m not a typical bicyclist. I used to scowl at those sweaty heathens in traffic and think, “Who the hell do they think they are?”. I grew up in the back of a station wagon in the NJ suburbs. I drove my car a mile to work everyday and laughed as I saw bicyclists caught in a downpour, my fingers comfortably gliding along a curvy steering wheel, the other hand exploring the radio dial, catching radio waves as they traveled hundreds of miles directly to my car. I was a god.

I no longer have a car. It’s not because I’m trying to save the world, or had an epiphany that my 4 minute commute was contributing to congestion, polluting our air and water, or causing the downfall of civilization. It was because my car, just out of warranty, needed a new water pump. $450 gone. Handing the cash over to the mechanic, I felt betrayed. Defeated. And angry. I also felt hungry because the repair took 4 hours. I could have gone to a junk yard, bought a pump and tried to put it in myself, but it would have taken a lot of time which I didn’t have. And I don’t know how to use a wrench. The $450 I spent was also not increasing the value of the car – in fact, the car was losing value every single day. Over time, the cumulative money spent on maintenance, gas and insurance didn’t justify the benefit I derived from driving. That’s right. It was all about me.

So I sold the car. Nate was nice enough to give me a bike the day after I sold it. It was an easier lifestyle change than I thought – mostly because I live and work in the city.  For all of you drivers on the fence, this is what it took:

  • A bike. Don’t let those speedsters with the skinny tires intimidate you. Any bike will do, though I don’t recommend the tiny ones designed for 5 year olds. I tried those kind. They’re way too slow. You don’t need to spend more than $100 to get started.
  • An outdoorsy backpack. This is important, as it will carry your life. Change of clothes, books, water, food, house pets, 4th of July fireworks, small livestock, and the occasional baby. I’m kidding about the babies. ($30-$50)
  • Lights. On your bike. Blinking brightly. ($30)
  • Helmet. I think I look cool in mine. Eventually I want to trade it in for a replica of Luke Skywalker’s helmet that he wore on the moon of Endor on those forest speed bikes. ($30)
  • T shirts. I tried biking in my work shirts at first. The women in my office pointed out I was sweating like an animal when I arrived every morning. Try not to bike in your work clothes.
  • Weather proof outerwear.
  • Courage. Riding in traffic can be intimidating at first. Riding in traffic on streets which were only designed for cars (we have plenty) is worse.

So try ditching the car for awhile. It’s good for you.


ProWalk ProBike is a conference for bicycle & pedestrian planners, engineers, advocates where we trade ideas & stories for making America better through active transportation.  At today’s lunch session, it was announced that Baltimore was named a BRONZE LEVEL BICYCLE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY by the League of American Bicyclists!

After two Honorable Mention awards, Baltimore joins the ranks of Philadelphia, Washington DC & Charlotte as a bronze level bike friendly community.  To put it in perspective, Portland is plantinum, San Francisco & Seattle are gold, and Chicago & Arlington, VA are silver.

We still have a long way to go, but as a community of cyclists, we can become even more bike friendly!  Thanks to everyone who helped bring this award to B’more!

Bike Baltimore FORUMS

There’s been buzz around DOT Planning about putting some forums up on this blog.  Yesterday, talking with Penny Troutner & Penn Wilbert about the need for forums, DOT’s marketing coordinator Paul Day made it so.

At the top of the page, we’ve added a FORUMS tab!  There, you can comment on Infrastructure, Policy, Community and Events.   I’ll be blogging from the ProWalk ProBike Conference next week, but the conversations can keep on rolling!

See you all next week!