Archive for the 'Parking' Category

New Artistic Bike Racks on Market Place

In a joint effort spearheaded by Downtown Partnership of Baltimore with assistance from Station North Arts and Entertainment District, two new bike racks have been installed at Market Place in Downtown Baltimore.

The bike racks, one symbolizing a crab, and one a cityscape, are part of a larger city-wide initiative to promote and create more biking opportunities downtown.

“Station North is thrilled that the Downtown Partnership has chosen to have two of the bike rack designs from our Bike Rack Project fabricated and installed Downtown,” says David Bielenberg, Executive Director, Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. “Funding only allowed us to have a handful built and installed in the arts district.  Now two more of the outstanding designs will become actual bike racks – works of art that also serve a purpose.”
The red crab bike rack was designed by Rod Rodriguez and the purple cityscape was designed by Allisa Jones. Both designs were fabricated by Steven Rumbaugh.

“It was fantastic to hear the city wanted to use our bike rack designs for Downtown,” says Alissa Jones, a freelance graphic designer and professor at Stevenson University. “We are so excited to see them installed.”

With these two racks on Market Place, there are now 14 bike racks in this two blocks stretch, not counting the tree guards, signs and railings.

99 Racks on the Street!

As DOT moves forward with installing more racks across the city in 2011, I did an inventory of how many bike racks were put in the street in 2010.  99 bike racks!  (You could almost put it to a tune)

That’s not a bad number for Baltimore.  It’s not Chicago’s 1000+ racks in a year, but we’re making progress.  Some places that got racks last year were:

  • Jack’s Bistro in Canton
  • The Helping Up Mission
  • Sly Fox Pub
  • Waverley Ace Hardware
  • City Neighbors Charter School
  • Kromer Hall
  • Ottobar
  • and the Walter’s Art Gallery

So far, we’ve verified another 35 racks to hit the streets within the next couple months!  Thanks everyone for the requests!  Keep ‘em coming!

DOT Offers Free Bike Racks

After a brief suspension, the Department of Transportation is again offering free bike racks to interested property owners.   The bike rack program was rejunvenated after updating the existing inventory of DOT racks and receiving a generous donation of racks from the Department of Recreation and Parks. 

Big thanks go to Anne Draddy & Charlie Murphy at Rec & Parks and Nelson Jackson at DOT for making this happen!

Bike racks can be installed on hard surfaces, preferably concrete sidewalks.  Under some circumstances, racks may be installed in brick surfaces.  A site evaluation will needed to determine if installation is feasible.  Each rack can park at least 2 bikes and 3 or 4 if you’re ambitious.  Racks are powder coated for weather resistance and limit dings to bikes.

The type of racks being offered are DOT’s standard “Downtown” rack and the “Hitch” Rack  (See below).

If you want a rack or know a good spot for one, send me an email at nate.evans@baltimorecity.gov

"Downtown" Rack

"Hitch" Rack

Student vs. Alum Bike Locking Styles

Last week, I had the privlege of returning to my alma mater to assist seniors in mock interviews.  The interviews turned out to be more like career counselling, which was even better.  When I moved back to the area years ago, I was within earshot of the high school.  Sometimes in late summer, we can hear the marching band practicing on the fields.

Naturally, I rode my bike the event (same as my polling place) and locked up to the bike rack in front of the school.  To my surprise, there was already another bike chained to the rack.  One glance at the bike, I knew this person never had a bike stolen and still had much to learn.  I locked my bike the same way when I was a student here.

It’s all good though – hey, they rode their bike to school!!!  Sure beats the cheese wagon or clogging up Ebenezer Road with cars. 

Just a couple differences in the locking styles:
1.  Clearly, the rack is no good; out-dated and not powder coated and the slates make it near impossible to get a 2″ tire in there.  While I used the outside of the rack, the student just pulled up and put the front tire against the rack.
2. While I used the preferred 3 Point locking method and cable through the front tire, the student locked only the front tire to the rack.  (One quick release away from someone else getting a free bike).  The only thing a thief is getting off my bike is the bell.
3. It’s going to take a serious theif that knows their way around a Kryptonite lock to work my bike loose.  The student used a chain with a padlock.  It would take a sharp pair of scissors to get through that lock. 

I’m not saying I’m the best at locking a bike up.  If I was, I would have brought it inside.

The only institutions that really teach proper bike locking techniques are the School of Hard Knocks and the University of Life.

Artscape Weekend, Pt 1

Artscape is B’more’s Mardi Gras.  As a B’more lifer, that’s how I describe it.   The largest free arts festival in the nation has represented the artistian community of the mid-Atlantic for more that a quarter century.  The past two years, it has recognized the Baltimore bike culture.

Mark Counselman is a local bike activist who spent many years in Chicago.  There he was active in the cycling community and learned the tricks of trade.  When bike parking at Artscape was announced last year, Mark stepped up and applied the skills he learned in Chi’town.  In 2009, Artscape’s bike parking hosted about 700 participants.  It was PACKED!  This year, Mark worked with BOPA to expand the bike parking INTO Maryland Avenue.  Big thanks go out to Mark for helping supply area cyclists with a place to park during Artscape. 

As started under former Mayor Sheila Dixon’s Friday Ride, it’s been an tradition to take a bike ride through Artscape before it opened.  Seven of us started out from City Hall, through the JFA parking lot and almost out to Fallsway when ride faithful Gary was hit head-on by a motorist making a wide right into the parking lot.  Gary and the motorist were fine, but Gary’s rim was history.  The police responded and filled out a report in a very professional manner.  When the officer asked, “Why would you ride bikes in the city?”  the answers were plentiful: 

“Because we live here” 

“It’s fun” 

“I love it.” 

“Baltimore’s a great place to ride”

Besides, you can’t bike through Artscape in a car.

BICYCLES AT ARTSCAPE

After a very successful introductory year, Bike Parking at this weekend’s Artscape is back and bigger than before.  We are adding 10 bike racks, which will accommodate 50-70 additional bikes.  Park your bike at Maryland Ave. at Mt. Royal Ave. and receive a souvenir button as a thank you for their green efforts.

(but wait, there’s more)

Local frame builders Chris Bishop, John Hollands, Tommy Nash, and Tom Palermo will at Baltimore Bicycle Works to show off their artisan hand-crafted bicycle frames and provide a brazing demonstration at 3pm on Saturday, July 17th.

Come out and enjoy America’s largest free arts festival, park your bike, thank the bike parking volunteers & support Baltimore’s bicycle industry!

Morgan Stanley Bike Parking

A few weeks ago, I was riding back from a meeting and passed by this wonderful site.  So many bikes, unfortunately, such little space for bike parking.  The new Morgan Stanley building in Harbor East was in the final stages of construction when this picture was taken.  I’m not sure if there is additional bike parking now available but it is next to ample vehicular parking as covered by Baltimore Brew.

This picture speaks volumes about bike commuters in Baltimore:

It really doesn’t matter what kind of bike you ride.  Here the BMXs almost outnumber the road bikes.  Even O’s pitcher Jeremy Guthrie rides a BMX to the Yard.

If there’s something solid to lock to, cyclists are going to use it as a rack.  A League of American Bicyclists survey question asks:  How many bike racks are in your community?  If we count all the official racks, sign posts, parking meters and tree guards, we would have a million bike racks easy.

Bike Lids in Canton

If you’re biking through Canton but want to take the Harbor Connector to Tide Point, you now have a safe place to lock your bike.  Seven new bike lids were installed in Canton Waterfront Park!  Bike lids are a great way to store your bike for longer term parking.  The lid completely covers the bike protecting it from the elements and vandalism.  Cyclists use their own lock to secure the lid shut.  There is no charge for using the bike lids with more coming to the Harbor Connector stop at the Frederick Myers Museum near Jackson Wharf.

Thanks go to DOT’s Barry Robinson, Nelson Jackson and Terry Chenoweth for getting the lids in place!

Zipcar comes to B’more

It might seem counterproductive to help Baltimore go car-free by providing….cars.  In the big picture, it makes sense.  Cars are only used 10% of the time with the other 90% of the time taking up parking spaces.  Since users only need cars 10% of the time, why not just share. 

So what does this have to do with bikes?  The new Zipcar spaces on Lexington St in front of City Hall have bike racks on the signposts.  The current parking spots for Zipcar can be a hike from most residential areas, but not a bad bike ride.  This is just another way how bikes are being incorportated into the city’s transportation system.

Penn Station Bike Parking

The past few weeks I’ve received many suggestions for expanded bike parking at Penn Station.  Two years ago, Amtrak announced the removal of the existing bike parking at Penn Station, which was then located beneath the canopy adjacent to the main entrance.  The decision for the removal was based on new Department of Homeland Security regulations the prohibited bicycle parking within close proximity to train station.

Recognizing the bike parking’s removal would create a serious issue for area commuters, Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) took the lead in addressing the situation.  Along with the Parking Authority of Baltimore City (PABC) and Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT), MTA purchased and installed new bike racks on city property managed by DOT & the Parking Authority.  The result was additional, higher quality racks that didn’t scratch bikes and under closer surveillance, although not directly protected from the elements.  These racks were installed in September of 2008.

Given the room for additional bikes and projection for an increase in bike traffic, I figured no new racks would be needed for at least 4-5 years.  To help direct users to the bike racks in the garage, DOT installed signs adjacent to the main bike parking.  Still, the demand percised.  I checked it out for myself and here’s what I found:  30 bikes, 4 scooters & 1 carcass at the main parking!  Another 9 bikes were at the garage parking!  I was fairly stunned. Before the original racks were removed, parking averaged 20 bikes with 2 permanent carcasses.  Could biking to Penn Station become this much more popular in less than 2 years?