Thursday, May 21 2009 @ 12:50 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
A Ramble Through Baltimore
by Greg Hinchliffe
[Author Greg Hinchliffe is chair of Baltimore’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, and has been writing and marking the routes for the Tour dem Parks ride since 2003. He lives and cycles in Baltimore City.]
In the spring of 2003, the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee of Baltimore had a problem: the brand new Gwynns Falls Trail was not being used to its potential. The city, the Trust for Public Land, and many others had put a great deal of time, money, and effort into building the trail, but the cyclists weren’t there, either because they were unaware that the trail existed, or they were reluctant to use it, wary of urban cycling in general.
To Penny Troutner, owner of Light Street Cycles and then chair of the committee, the answer was obvious: host an organized ride through the city, passing by or through most of its major parks and trails, thereby not only showcasing the parks themselves, but reassuring local riders that it could be safe and pleasant to cycle within the city limits. This was no small order. Back in the days before the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, before we had a full-time bike-ped planner, in a city that hadn’t installed a bike lane or much of any kind of bike accommodation in the previous 20 years, Baltimore did not exactly have a
reputation as a Bike-Friendly Community.
Nonetheless, those of us who lived and cycled in the city knew that there was some good riding and wanted to show it off with a ride. Any money raised by the event would go right back to the parks, through donations to citizen support groups. Thus the Tour dem Parks was born. Or Tour du Parks, as it was known for its first few years, to the considerable chagrin of the more linguistically talented members of the committee, who insisted it should either be Tour du Park or Tour des Parks. After years of haggling, we decided to embrace our inner Baltimoron and go with Tour dem Parks, as in “How ‘bout dem Oreos?” (You know,
the baseball team?) It seemed only natural to throw in “Hon” at the end. So . . . Tour dem Parks, Hon! John Waters legendary Baltimore filmmaker of “Pink Flamingos” fame) would be proud.