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BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

It recently came to my attention that BBC is opposing establishing protected bikeways in Baltimore City. Wow. . . what a way to decrease membership.  The number of young people commuting by bike in Baltimore continues to grow.  Young families are staying in the city, seeking places to ride bikes with their kids.  And as we've recently seen, bike lanes provide little protection. 

I personally support protected bikeways.  By increasing the number of cyclists, we make the roads safer for all of us.  Protected bikeways provide a way for new riders to feel safe riding on City streets.  I've led BBC rides for new riders and often they are leary of even riding the loop road at UMBC, which has a rumble strip between the car lane and the bike lane. 

BBC needs to get with the program and support cycling initiatives that encourage everyone to ride, not just those clad in lycra out for a weekend spin in the country. 

I hope BBC will be more accommodating to all riders not just recreational riders with curly handlebars.  If not, I will have to rethink being a part of this group. 

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

Hi Kim

The BBC executive board has voted to support the Baltimore City Bike Master Plan as it stands, without the amendment proposed by Bike More.

The Master plan has bike tracks as an integral part of it.  The Master Plan includes the wonderful Maryland Avenue Cycle Track.  The BBC board is NOT against bike tracks.

Everyone in the BBC should read the Bike Master Plan or at least look at the power point summary of it. And if they care about these issues--as they should--should submit a comment on the bike master plan while the comment period is open.  The plan, the power point summary of it and the place to submit comments on it is here: 

2015 Baltimore City Master PlanOffical Link to 2015 Master PlanOfficial Link

The issue between Bike More and the BBC is whether the default Bike lane—on roads where the speed is over 25mph—should be the bike lane or the bike track. Or as I see it, the issue is whether to proceed towards bike tracks in a slow, conservative way (BBC board) or in a more speedy (radical?) way (Bike More.)

For those interested, the Bike More group's suggested amendments are to be found here: 

Bikemore's Suggested Changes

I found Jeffry’s "humble" defense of the conservative approach quite moving:

In my humble opinion,  the current Bicycle Master Plan is balanced and includes improving secondary streets for bicyclists.  The Plan also includes Cycle Tracks.  And yes the plan includes conventional bikelanes for experienced cyclists.  Let's see how the Cycle Tracks do before replacing all the bikelanes with Tracks. This is a work in progress, and I want to give the City flexibility to determine what works best,   While Cycle Tracks can offer inexperienced cyclists some comfort, what happens when the Cycle Track ends?  Cyclists need education.  The BBC spring cycling instructional series is a good opportunity for beginners to learn how to ride safely on the road... 

I can’t tell, really can’t tell, whether you misunderstand the BBC’s position or genuinely believe that a more conservative approach to bike tracks is the same as being against them.

(If anyone on the BBC board disagrees with my interpretation of their position, please correct me on this.)

Ed Hopkins

Ed Hopkins

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

Hi All
I am pasting in letters from Bike MD and Bikemore on their support for Cycle Tracks. The BBC supports the 2015 Bicycle Master Plan.
Here is the letter from Nate Evans, Executive Director of Bike MD:

As an experienced road cyclist, I can appreciate your concerns over advanced bicycle infrastructure.  While cycletracks are an advanced infrastructure, they certainly are not new; only new to Baltimore.  One advantage to Baltimore's slower pace of implementing bicycle infrastructure is that other U.S. cities have completed all the experimentation for us.  The development of cycletracks, buffered bike lanes, bike boulevards and associated facilities have proven to increase roadway safety for all users thus increase the number of cyclists which in turn, further improves cyclist safety.  Cycletracks have also been proven to increase property values and business revenues in neighborhoods where they are installed. 

As you reference both AASHTO and NACTO design guides in your questions, both manuals provide your answers.  While AASHTO is on the verge of approving cycletracks and buffered bike lanes, NACTO's Urban Bikeway Design Guide has thoroughly investigated their application and success.  Please follow this link to review how cycletracks are applied and where they have been proven successful.

Engineering design manuals can not convey how bike lanes feel to the cyclist.  The only way to truly know how a cycletrack feels is to ride one.  I would recommend riding around Washington, DC where they have key cycletracks on Pennsylvania Avenue, 15th Street NW and L Street. In Baltimore, cycletracks are coming to Roland Avenue, Maryland Avenue and Cathedral Street from Charles Village to the Inner Harbor.  The new bike plan also recommends cycletracks for Pratt Street, Fulton Avenue and North Avenue.

These advanced facilities are developed to create safe cycling conditions for those interested in cycling, but concerned for their safety. The added protection and separation from traffic provides those conditions for more to experience the joy of cycling, not just for recreation but for transportation.  For those with the confidence to legally ride in Baltimore's existing conditions, I do not foresee a prohibition of vehicular cycling to be enforced, even as state law requires use of bike lanes.

The new bicycle master plans allows for flexibility in which type of bike facility will be applied on select streets.  Bikemore's recommendations promotes the application of separated bike facilities on arterials.  As this recommendation will certainly improve cyclists' safety and increase the number of cyclists, Bike Maryland supports this amendment.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact the Bikemore representatives copied on this email:  Greg Hiinchliffe, Jed Weeks and Liz Gordon.


This is a letter from Joe Lynagh President of the Board of Directors for BikeMD:

I am very unclear why BBC would oppose - what I would view as -  ‘state of the art’ in infrastructure planning and safe cycling design. I would like to understand the opposition better, perhaps you could elaborate on the thoughts behind your questions?
Is your opposition centered around the comment “However, Cycle Tracks are new and a departure from the Bike lanes we have seen over the last 35 years.”? As Nate notes, the design is simply new to Baltimore. Further as both a recreational and commuting cyclist, my observation would be that the bike lanes we have seen over the last 35 years are simply inadequate, offer no protections to the rider and are routinely disregarded by drivers.

Is your opposition centered around the comment “We wish to preserve the opportunity for more experienced cyclists to use parallel roads (i.e - St Paul/Charles Street) or the traffic lanes of Cycle Track streets; especially when good parallel roads aren't nearby.”? Thus is the concern that cyclists would somehow be restricted to bicycle only corridors when traveling in population dense areas? As both a driver and commuter in Baltimore, such an outcome sounds like Nirvana to me; watching cyclists grind up the edge of the parking lanes on Calvert Street is absolutely scary; likewise cruising down the protected bike lanes of Guilford Avenue is relaxing and enjoyable. EXPANDING such a network should be the focus of cycling advocates.

Fundamentally, I would hope that cycling advocates generally support ANY attempt to improve the safety and accessibility of bicycling. As noted in the chain, research has shown that bicycling safety improves as the number and frequency of riders on the road increases; such an outcome modifies the expectations and mindset of the driving public; therefore we should be supportive of any responsible change which promotes such an outcome.

Happy to chat further.

The following letter is from Jed Weeks:

We respect your right to oppose Bikemore's recommendations to improve bicycle safety on Baltimore City's arterial corridors.

We maintain that there is ample evidence that protected bicycle facilities increase ridership, particularly ridership for transportation and ridership in the Age 8 to 80 category we are designing and advocating for.

I'm disappointed Bikemore only found out about this opposition through our statewide partner, especially as you have the contact information for both our executive director and myself. 

I also encourage you to read through the full recommendations (as I saw from your email you had not seen the full text), which has been available at our website since release, as well as on all of our social media channels, and in hardcopy form at the Bike Master Plan meeting.

Yes, we aim to reduce the city's ability to place insufficient and dangerous facilities, like sharrows, on arterial roads. Yes, we ask that the default facility treatment be a protected facility when traffic speeds are dangerously fast and there is ample road width for protected facilities. No, we do not ask the city build protected facilities when there isn't sufficient or safe space.

I understand our work will never please 100% of bicycle riders, but we will stand behind this decision and ask BBC members to think of the vulnerable populations in our city that must use bicycles for transportation and desire protected facilities.

Jed Weeks
Bikemore Board President

I hope these letters help club members in deciding their opinions about the Master Plan and Bikemore's amendment.

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

Hi All

Once again: the BBC is not against any kind of bike lane. We agree that BikeMD andBikemore are much knowledgeable on the best type of bike lane for Baltimore and defer to their expertise. Where we disagree is on a requirement that Cycle Tracks be the default based on a certain speed. We believe that the requirement ties the hands of planners in determining the best type of bike lane for a given street.

It also has the potential to be counter-productive. It does not take too much imagination for the following scenario from the City: "since we don't the funds to build Cycle Tracks and since we have to do so under the requirements of the Master Plan, then we cannot build any bike lanes at all".

Now if there is a political agenda that BikeMD and Bikemore are know about and the rest of do not where funding for Cycle Tracks is not going to happen unless it is required by some explicit criteria, they need to let the BBC know about it. But I see nothing in the above letters saying anything of the sort. Cycle Tracks are already being built. So what is the need for the Bikemore Amendment?


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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted


You say: "It recently came to my attention that BBC is opposing establishing protected bikeways in Baltimore City."

How did this "come to your attention"?  What is the source for your erroneous belief that the BBC board is opposed to Bike Traks?  Did you get email from some person or some group that said the BBC was opposed to Bike Traks?

or did you just misread the discussion in the Forums?



Ed Hopkins

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

I apologize to all in that I have been having computer issues off and on for a while now (not to mention being busy) so I have not been on top of this issue the way I would like.

My first thought is much like when the city purposed 4 round-a-bouts in the city, the common enlightened response was "It looks too much like a solution looking for a problem." - The BBC position on cycle tracks is not much different.

I'll note if opposition to some infrastructure is being considered, let's think about door zone bike lanes, which is made worse by state law for mandatory use. We need to get rid of the law or door zone bike lanes. 4' next to parked cars should be a no go zone for any cyclists traveling 12 mph or grater.

I bring this up because this is what happens when bike lanes are stressed over sharrows (stress for one type of facility over the other) ... Lets get back to "best engineering practices", OK?     


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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

Again,Barry the BBC isn't opposing Cycle Tracks that are prominently included in the Master Plan.  The club is only opposing the Bikemore Amendment that would mandate Cycle Tracks.  I talked to Barry, and we mutually agree that one problem is that bikelanes are too narrow and have been placed in the door zone of parked cars.  Barry and I both agree that conventional bikelanes would be safer if they were wider and made more conspicuous or buffered by hatch marks on either side.  Both of us are concerned about Cycle Tracks being squeezed between the door zone of parked cars and the curb.  One can leave a bikelane in places were the lane is unsafe, but with the physical barrier, a cyclist may not leave a Cycle Track. While Cycle Tracks protect against rear end collisons, their weakness is that Tracks put cyclists in a position where motorists don't expect them and may increase collisons with cross and turning traffic.  If a lot of cyclists use the Track, Denmark comes to mind, then motorists will learn to look for cyclists.  However, if only a few cyclists use the Track, then motorists may not look for cyclists.  This is one reason I want the City to proceed slowly and see where Tracks would increase the number of cyclists and construct Tracks in those areas where they would be safe.
     Last but not least, the Plan is very weak on calming traffic, education, and police enforcement.  Motorists have the wrong idea that it's normal to drive 10 - 15 mph over the speed limit.  Cyclists have the misconception that they don't need to obey traffic laws or must always ride on the righthand edge or in the door zone of parked cars.  Police feel it's not their job to enforce traffic laws and traffic safety and only stop people, whether it be motorists or bicyclists, who do the most flagrant violations.  This attitude needs to change.  When I grew up in the 60's and 70's, it was normal to bicycle on the roads.  Last but not least, cyclists do what we can control.  Ride predictably, pay attention, obey traffic laws, and be conspicuous. To make up for our small size, wear bright colors (or a bright vest) and use powerful front and rear lights.  The Master Plan should be designed for all cyclists.  Please click on the Plan and Comment!

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

Here are some images of cycle tracks where the barrier protecting the cyclist is a row of parked cars. See p. 23 in the Master Plan for a description of Cycle Tracks and the requirements governing them.  There are additional photos of cycle tracks with the discussion of Cycle Tracks in the Master Plan.

The Maryland Avenue/Cathedral Cycle Track will be, I think, a two way cycle track.  Again see p. 23.  (I live about 4 blocks from where this Track starts. I am eager to try it out as soon as it is in place.)

Ed Hopkins

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

BikeMore's amendment to the Bike Master Plan--what exactly are they objecting to?

I spent some time on this very cold day trying to connect Bike More's proposed amendment to the Master Plan itself. I had to read the Master Plan carefully to do this. It was a good exercise.

The gist of the proposed amendment is that facilities with some physical separation be the default preferred facility for streets with 85th percentile speeds above 25 miles per hour."

Now nowhere in the Master Plan is there any talk of the "default" preferred facility. As far as I can tell BikeMore is objecting to this section from page 20 in the master plan:

1. Bike Lanes
a. Bike Lanes
    DESCRIPTION –A bike lane is a dedicated lane for cyclists that is separate
from vehicular travel lanes. It is delineated with striping and pavement markings
on the roadway and with signage. Bike lanes typically are located to the right
side of vehicular travel lanes and run in the same direction as traffic. Bike lanes
typically do not have any physical separation from the vehicular travel lanes.
    Bike lanes are the most universally preferred type of bicycle facility and
should be given priority when they can be accommodated on roadways.

The Master Plan says that Bike lanes should be "given priority" when they can be.

Bike More disagrees with this and wants cycle tracks to be "given priority" or be the "default facility" in cases where the 85th percentile speeds are above 25 miles per hour. (This means in cases where the actual speed of the motorists is above 25 mph 85% of the time.)

Why this speed: "This is the suggested threshold because it is an approximation of the speed beyond which crashes between automobiles and bicyclists or pedestrians become dramatically more likely to result in death or grievous injury."

To see these numbers go to p. 64 of the Bike Master plan:

5. Neighborhood Slow Zones
Objective: Establish a Neighborhood Slow Zone pilot program by 2015, and make
this program available to communities by 2018.

The severity of accidents and risk of fatalities during traffic collisions greatly increase as
traffic speeds increase. The World Health Organization has shown that accident severity
dramatically increases when traffic speeds reach 30 km/h (18.6 m/h) or higher. Risk of
pedestrian fatality during traffic accidents remains at about 10% when travel speeds are
below 30 km/h (18.6 m/h), but soars to 85% at 50 km/h (31 m/h). Pedestrians struck by
motorists traveling at 25 m/h are at a 40% risk of fatality (WHO, 2008.)

For the arguments on both sides of this question, see other entries in the Advocacy Forum. 

Ed Hopkins

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Re: BBC Opposition of Protected Bikeways is Short-Sighted

I appreciate the time and effort that is being put into thinking about this very important issue.  I hope that BBC will work very closely with Bmore and Bike Maryland to coordinate advocacy work and find ways to reach consensus.  I believe that will strengthen all of the cycling community. 

In reference to this particular issue, I am inclined to lead more toward Bmore's position because they are more representative of those that bike in the City, using their bikes for commuting and transportation while BBC is a recreational club. 

Finally, I appreciate having this forum and the civil discussion on policy to further all of our thinking and the entire Baltimore area a great place to bike!

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