Ducks in the "Trolley Lane"

From the Chair of the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee:

Dear Col. Foxx:

At the risk of becoming a pest, I write to ask for your help in resolving a problem which has been plaquing Baltimore bicyclists recently.

The "Trolley Lane" along Pratt and Light Streets around Harborplace is under design now to become a bicycle facility as part of phase two of the Jones Falls Trail. Area cyclists excitedly look forward to its completion when, in combination with the Gwynns Falls Trail and the beautiful new Westshore Park, it will provide a safe and scenic cycling route to and through the Inner Harbor. I appreciate the effort your department is putting into making this a quality facility.

In the meantime, the "Trolley Lane" serves as the de-facto bike route around the harbor, as it has ever since it was built, and especially since the "Trolley" tourist service for which it was created ceased operation. It is not a perfect bike facility, but offers cyclists some refuge from the heavy, high-speed traffic downtown. We have always had to dodge the occasional taxicab or delivery truck which ignores all the "Do Not Enter" and "No Stopping" signs and parks in the space, but for the last several months there has been one particularly obstructive presence: the "Ride the Ducks" amphibious tourist service almost always has one of their enormous vehicles parked in the "Trolley Lane" right at the Pratt/Light intersection at a point where it is very difficult for a cyclist to get around it.

During the construction of Westshore Park, we hoped that the obstruction would be a tempory one, only lasting as long as the bus loading lane along Light Street was blocked by construction, but this has not proved to be the case. The drivers insist that they have a permit to park there, although no one can produce a copy of it. Some drivers say the permit was issued by the Baltimore Development Corporation (can they do that?); others insist the Mayor himself granted the permission.

I am not merely complaining; I would like to offer a solution: Westshore Park. Not only is the existing bus loading lane along Light Street available again, but the park itself contains a brand new bus loading area within it. Both areas have sufficient curb-cuts to allow the Ducks to load from the rear. If necessary, perhaps a spot or two could be reserved for them, as one apparently is for the double decker tour bus?

I realize that this problem will be solved once the "Trolley Lane" is officially converted to the Jones Falls Trail, but that could be years away, and in the meantime, bicyclists are being forced into the road to get around these vehicles. The drivers are most unco-operative and won't move even for the police. Last spring the Kinetic Sculpture Race ground to halt for about 15 minutes until a policeman convinced a Duck operator to move.

The Ducks have several other options to load and unload, but bicyclists only have the Trolley Lane: Pratt Street is too dangerous and the Promenade is off limits. I would greatly appreciate it you or someone in your department could sort this out and provide some relief. I would hate to have a bicyclist hurt or killed while we are waiting for the Jones Falls Trail to be completed.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

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