When I go out of town, I bring a bike whenever I can, just so I can go exploring if I have a little spare time. A bike is the ideal platform to get a quick feel of a new place. This past week, that place was Baltimore.
Here is the Inner Harbour at dawn.
The Inner Harbor is ringed by a multiuse trail, much in the same way as False Creek in Vancouver.
There are sections of this trail that are off limits to bikes during most of the day because of the high density of pedestrians. For part of this section, there is a segregated bike lane that parallels the path by the water.
Here is a sample of the wayfinding signage for bikes and pedestrians. I like the distance indicators, which are more useful than the bike route numbering system you see in Toronto.
Seeing my first on street bike lane.
If you think streetcar tracks are an issue, try them in combination with cobblestones, like here in Fells Point.
They use sharrows here too.
And look at this most excellent bike lane, painted in green but very narrow, especially with traffic.
Another view of the bike trail on E. Pratt St.
The bike rack at the Convention Center is a pretty good colour match to my bike.
Later in the week, I rode north away from the Harbor. In the immediate downtown area, I didn’t see any bike lanes, but eventually I came upon this contraflow lane.
This lead me to the start of the Jones Falls Trail, which at this point was a glorified sidewalk.
Dropped by to check out Baltimore Bike Works, which is an interesting small shop that is cooperatively owned like Urbane Cyclist.
Heading further along the trail.
Here the trail crosses the road and then there are switchbacks up a hill.
Digging the fall colours.
More signage at the top of the hill.
A left turn bike box, just like the ones just installed on Harbord at Shaw.
More fall colours, right near Johns Hopkins University.
Heading back south, I was having problems deciding which lane to take on the many multilane one way streets. I saw cyclists opting for both the right and the leftmost lanes.
You also need to keep an eye out for these very unfriendly grates. I saw at least one of them that was oriented the other way, which would be a deathtrap for cyclists.
One of the other reasons I wanted to bring a bike was to check out a Thursday night social ride that was listed on Facebook.
Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy that evening, but I rode up to the starting point anyway, just in case someone would show up. I was starting to curse my decision at the appointed hour, when one lonely, wet cyclist rode up Cheers, Andrew) Within a few minutes, we were joined by a few more hardy souls.
It was decided that we would do a short ride to a bar and then call it a night.
And we’re off. It is hard to tell in this picture, but the rider second from the right is on a marked bike lane.
We cut short the ride, and opted for a closer bar in Fell’s Point. It was fun to warm up and have a few drinks. It was the first time in a while that I had been out and about with a young enough crowd that some of them were carded.
At any rate, it was great to learn a little about the bike scene in Baltimore, which seems pretty lively. I was told that there was a Wednesday night ride that was faster. Also, they’ve rebranded their Critical Mass as the Baltimore Bike Party, and have managed to get more cyclists out this way. Note from this post that they sometimes have paid for police escort, and funded this through post ride beer sales. Pretty interesting way to run a ride.
We also shared common concerns about the lack of bike infrastructure. They assumed that we’re better off in Toronto, but from what I saw, the two cities are roughly on par. A quick glance at the official map shows a network that suffers from a lack of connectivity, and a notable lack of any bike lanes in the central area of downtown. We also swapped stories about cyclists getting hit or killed but still viewed as collateral damage.
All in all, the ride was a perfect way to cap off the week. It reinforced all our views that as cyclists, we share common concerns where ever we are.
Ride on Baltimore, and stay safe!