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13 posts :: Page 1 of 2
By: Likes:
  (Read 18949 times)  

Let's talk about 33rd street, I can tell you block by block, everywhere that the bike lanes can potentially kill someone.

I'll start at Charles.
The bike lane runs for about a block, then suddenly right turning cars at Saint Paul have to cut across the bike lane to turn, this always makes for an awkward situation.
Whats worse, is the lanes that are going straight are not clearly defined, so you sometimes have three lanes that are trying to go straight, which is made even more dangerous by the fact that there are usually parked cars in the right lane, so three lanes(four if you count the bike lane) are trying to merge down to one lane. This is a problem that exist at alot of baltimore city intersections, lanes that aren't clearly defined, cars don't know which lanes turns, and which go straight.

What you end up with for the next couple of blocks is intermittent parked cars, so you have people that are trying to pass on the right(where bikes are riding) at speeds around 40mph.

There is no left turn at Greenmount, so there is always a line of cars backed up waiting to make U-turns at the next block. At this point there are also several bus stops, I'm not sure why the bus needs to stop at every block, but it does, and this combo effectively brings traffic to a hault.

Then you get a bit of a break, and from about Ellerslie ave to Loch Raven cars can usually get up to about 40mph, which sucks for cyclists, because at this point you are riding up hill, and getting buzzed by car after car.

So you continue towards Hillen Road and 33rd st, which is one of the stupidest god damn intersections in all of Baltimore City, especially for cars. City traffic planners, what the hell were you thinking?
The fun part, when the light turns green, the traffic that wants to continue straight, has to cross over the bike lane, (which is in between two car lanes) It gets better, If you want to continue in the bike lane, you have to cross infront of right turning traffic a second time(or I should say they have to cross infront of you, the cyclist). It's hard to explain you just have to ride it.

If you follow the bike lane around, you get dumped onto Hardford Rd, onto a bridge with no shoulder where speeds exceed 40, even 50mph sometimes. This is where I turn into the quiet maze of oneway streets known as Lauraville.

If you choose to follow the designated bike route to Morgan State, you have to ride through the woods up a deserted stretch of unlit access road, that is littered with debris, logs, washouts, glass, not so scary for me, but I wouldn't let my girlfriend ride through there.

And the thing that I haven't mentioned is how awkward the 33rd st bike lanes are. Cars don't know what to do around them, I've seen people try to squeeze through them, like it were a regular lane, motorcycles and scooters use it as a passing lane.

So what is my point, I don't think I have one, but it takes alot more than some arrows on the road to make is safe for cyclists. In my opinion, 33rd st is a death trap.

By: Likes:
   

Thanks for your comments and they have been forwarded to the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee. I'll agree that 33rd St is not one of the City's most desirable bike facilities but personally I make a distinction between uncomfortable and unsafe and at this point in time I personally feel that 33rd St is uncomfortable to ride but not necessarily unsafe (which depends as much on the actions of bicyclists as it does the action of drivers.)

One aspect of the 33rd St design is to encourage bicyclists to act as drivers of vehicles (which they legally are) and to enforce to drivers of motor vehicles that bicyclists are legitimate road users. So in the case of turning traffic across the bikeway, turning motorists are supposed to yield to bicyclists and bicyclists are supposed to yield to turning traffic per the standard rules of the road. This methodology has been shown (elsewhere) to be safer then sidewalk riding which per my observations on 33rd St is a significant problem. So one step toward safety is to get cyclists off the sidewalk (up to 21 times the safety risk) then next step is how do we train everyone to handle turning traffic (early next year we should be seeing a safety campaign.)

There also has been some talk in the bicycling community on the best placement of sharrows should they be in the right hand tire track as they currently are on 33rd St or should they be placed in the center of the road. If anyone has any thoughts on this please chime in.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
By: Likes:
   

I'll admit that I'm not a fan of bike lanes, at least not when they appear and disappear like on 33rd st. I believe that poor traffic planning is what causes the the cars to drive dangerously, which causes dangerous situations for everyone, car, bike and pedestrian.

I have to say that it's getting better out there, I haven't had anything thrown at me in a long time. This website is a great resource, although unfortunately I often only come here to vent my frustrations.

As far as sharrows go, my initial reation as a cyclist is to think that they're good, and necessary, because they give motorists the heads up that there may be bikes present. But really drivers should always be alert and ready for anything in the lane, like cars, bikes, joggers, horses, buggies. So I'd have to say that they are not necessary. I do get a reassured sort of feeling when I see a "share the road" sign, because it serves as a reminder to both bikes and cars that were all on this merry go round together.

By: Likes:
   

Thanks dcannon for your comments and you are welcome to come here and vent as often as you need (which hopefully will be less and less.)

IMHO Baltimore is always going to be a mixed bag of good stuff and stuff that is junk and that goes for bike facilities as well as other things. The trick is to encourage more high quality stuff for bicyclists and that unfortunately at this time can only happen where practical and feasible. The process of trying to open the envelope on what constitutes practical and feasible is a slow one and one we are working on to improve.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
By: Likes:
   

Arrow Arrow Hey, guess what, the city installed directional arrows above the lanes at 33rd and St. Paul Arrow Arrow Arrows!

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I agree that 33rd Street is one of the major weak points in a bike plan for Baltimore. If one could get from Johns Hopkins/Jones Falls trail to Lake Montabello (plus the underused, but nice trail in Herring Run Park that could one day be extended to Highlandtown), it would be much easier to bike in the city.

Here's my question: why can't we get rid of the parked cars on 33rd and put in a bike lane? Many of those houses are empty, all businesses on that stretch have parking lots, and given that you can't park there during the weekday rush hours they're fairly useless for residential parking. Has anyone proposed this, and who is the major point of resistance? None of the houses on that stretch are particularly nice, and I suspect that many of them are rentals. There's plenty of parking on the side streets, given the number of empty houses nearby, and taking action now would encourage those properties to be developed for car-free households. I'm sure Hopkins students would love to live on a street with a real bike lane that allowed them to go to school or Lake Montabello without risking their life.

I live in Ednor Gardens and would like to be able to bike to the train station, but the lack of bike lanes on 33rd or any other parallel street (I'd also support turning 32nd street into a bike street) deterrs me from biking more.

Martin

By: Likes:
   

[I got this response from someone on the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee:]

My advice is forget 33rd Street … (when going east) west of Greeenmount use 32nd Street, cross Old York Road and cut thru the Giant Parking lot… go one or 2two blocks north to 34th and turn east. When you get to Hillen Road , you can go left and then turn right into the “service entrance” to Montebello . It’s a lovely ride.


> Here's my question: why can't we get rid of the parked cars on 33rd

Trying to get rid of parking spaces in Baltimore is a masochistic form of suicide. I’m hoping for the day when there are few enough of cars that it won’t be an issue, but until then, it won't happen.


> Many of those houses are empty, all businesses on that stretch have parking lots, and given that you can't park there during the weekday rush hours they're fairly useless for residential parking.

Doesn’t matter, trying to get rid of parking spaces in Baltimore is a masochistic form of suicide.


> Has anyone proposed this, and who is the major point of resistance?

Citizens will go wild and demand your head. This is also a masochistic form a political suicide.


> None of the houses on that stretch are particularly nice, and I suspect that many of them are rentals.

No comment.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
By: Likes:
   

So if the Mayor's Office is suggesting that we ride on different streets, then why aren't the bike lanes painted on that street? I usually take the route described, but it would be even better if it were officially marked so cars on those streets were used to bikes. There are a few street crossings (particularly crossing Loch Raven/Alameda/Hillen) that are fairly dangerous unless you cross at the light on 33rd.

I'm sure that it's tough to remove parking spots, but I suspect that if they're removed with the aim of putting in real bike lines it might be easier to gain support. If there's anything else I can do on this front, I'd be happy to help.

By: Likes:
   

The Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee is not part of the Mayor's Office. We are not apart of the process as much as we would like to see but that is slowly changing, after all thinking about bicyclists is something new here. The Collegetown bike route was the first major effort by the City for bike accommodations and the amount of detail that went into that is totally mind boggling. With comments like yours we can encourage the City to reexamine that route.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
By: Likes:
   

33rd street can be a little hairy. I actually find the approach to Hillen Rd to be the safest because it's down hill and riders can maintain a higher speed. A good alternative running from Greenmount Ave to Hillen Rd is a combination of 34th street, cutting through the YMCA to Ednor. From there pick up Lakeside to Hillen. Both 34th and Lakeside are two-way streets and low traffic and safe so you can ride them in both directions. This echos the response from someone in the mayor's office. And, they're right. It is a nice ride and basically car free.

I'd like to see B'more adopt a route plan similar to Portland, OR. They have main routes with painted lanes. Side streets like 34th and Lakeside have bike dots (like small markers) embedded in the streets to identify those streets as bikeable routes.

13 posts :: Page 1 of 2
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