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You haven’t signed it? They need 1000 signatures! Don’t you want cycling in Baltimore? Sign it! Get everyone you know to sign it! Do it!

We, the undersigned, support the Baltimore City Council in passing legislation that will make Baltimore a safer place for bicyclists. These bills and resolutions not only promote Baltimore as a bicycle-friendly, sustainable community, but make it a better place to live. Encouraging cycling, whether as transportation or recreation, improves the health of citizens and the environment while decreasing traffic congestion, fossil fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

We fully support the following:

* 09-0429 – Required Parking for Bicycles for Employees & New Construction
* 09-0430 – Transit and Traffic – Bike Lanes ($50 fine for parking/stopping in bike lanes)
* 09-0431 – Bike-Safe Grates for all city construction projects
* 09-0433 – Street and Transportation Projects – Complete Streets in all transportation construction projects
* 09-0175R %u2013 Informational Hearing %u2013 Baltimore Police Department (Conduct a hearing between area cyclists and the BPD to address concerns and improve public safety)
* 09-0176R %u2013 Cyclists%u2019 Bill of Rights
* 09-0177R %u2013 B%u2019more Streets for People, establishing several %u201Ccyclovias%u201D annually

More information can be found on the City Council’s website: http://www.baltimorecitycouncil.com

Check it out here.

Wyman Park Drive, after it crosses Sisson Street by Stieff Silver and goes toward the Jones Falls Trail and Druid Hill Park is being resurfaced right now.  While it will be awesome when it’s finished, you might want to find another way home tonight.  Sorry for the lack of pictures.


Some kind-hearted folks are organizing a ride from Baltimore to Annapolis to honor fallen cyclist Larry Bensky.

This is a ride from Baltimore to Annapolis to memorialize Larry Bensky, who as you all know was killed this past Tuesday while riding on Butler Rd. We’re doing this on Monday as it is the last day of the current legislative session and a great and somber opportunity to get bill 461 passed into law. House bill 461 requires motorists to give cyclists three feet when passing. Some say that it can’t be enforced but they’re missing the point. The point is to draw attention to the rights of cyclists and to move one inch, or three feet, towards a better, more civil society. So join us.

Respond to the event on Facebook here.

I can’t make it, since my child is about to be born any day (literally) now.  But if any readers/contributors do and would like to share reflections, stories and photos, please drop us a line.

More information about yesterday’s crash that killed one cyclist and left another seriously injured:

Baltimore County police have identified an Owings Mills man who was fatally struck by a car while riding his bicycle Tuesday afternoon near Butler and Falls roads.

Lawrence Bensky, 42, of the first block of Quarterhouse Court was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the initial police investigation, Faith Frenzel, 64, of the 1900 block of Gravel Road in Hampstead was driving her 2001 Toyota Echo westbound on Butler Road about 4:30 p.m. when she struck Bensky’s pedacycle on the shoulder of the road. The pedacycle became lodged in the front of the car before colliding with Joel Alan Wyman, who was also riding a pedaycle, sending both victims off the road, police said.

Wyman, 45, of the 2200 block of Harmony Woods Road in Owings Mills was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was in serious condition.

Police were preparing charges against Frenzel, pending the completion of their investigation.

More.

Yes, you read correctly. She hit them on the shoulder of the road. And the police are preparing charges.  I wonder if any will stick?

From The Baltimore Sun:

A car struck two cyclists, killing one, Tuesday afternoon in Baltimore County.

Police said a sedan vehicle struck an adult male on a bike near Butler and Falls roads around 4:30 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other cyclist was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and their condition is unknown, police said. Police did not have additional information on the victims.

The driver of the car was not injured, police said. Police are still investigating.

(More.)

The comment section, of course, is full of, “I share the road, but not THIS road,” and, “THESE CYCLISTS have a death wish,” crap.  But there are also cyclists, drivers, and people without their heads in….the sand sticking up for all of us.

More, at Baltimore Spokes, also.

....shouldn't we always?

Aside from a few new bike lanes here or there as part of Operation Orange Cone, there hasn’t been anything new to bike on in Baltimore for quite some time.  Even the new shared bike and bus lanes downtown need some refreshing.  One small victory was gained in the deep mid-winter on the central bikeway of Baltimore.  Baltimore City Public School System had closed the parking lot of the Guilford Ave cut-through due to conflict between cyclists and pedestrians with extended gate arms and chains.

A compromise was reached by the Department of Transportation adding signage to direct cyclists to the parking lot and yiedling right-of-way to pedestrians; nothing more than is asked in the regular course of travel by cyclists in all parts of the city…and world.   By adding 3 simple signs, the dream of the Guilford Avenue Bicycle Boulevard lives on.

Quite a few more signs for bicycles will spring up over the course of the spring, summer & fall taking B’more to the next level of bicycle existence.  No, it’s not Portland, Amsterdam, Copenhagen or even New York City.  It’s Baltimore.  Not only will the Park Heights and Southeast Bike Networks become reality, but construction on 3 trail sections will begin and an existing trail will be recognized.

Until the summer construction season, keep on riding, shake the remaining cold and yield to pedestrians.  There are many events coming this summer that need assistance of experienced cyclists.  Let’s get more of B’more outta cars and onto bikes!!!

As Bartles & James used to say, “Thank you for your support.”


Via The Baltimore Sun:

The family of a bicyclist who was killed last year in a collision with a truck on Maryland Avenue has filed a wrongful death suit against the driver and his employer.

On Aug. 4, John R. “Jack” Yates, 67, was riding his bike south on Maryland Avenue behind a truck when he got caught in the vehicle’s rear wheels as it turned right on Lafayette Avenue, police said at the time. He died at the scene.

The civil suit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court on behalf of Yates’ wife, son and daughter, seeks $5 million in compensatory damages for negligence by driver Michael Dale Chandler of Severn and Potts & Callahan Inc. The demolition, excavation and equipment rental company is located on Lafayette Avenue.

Baltimore police investigators determined that Yates was at fault because he was riding in the parking lanes and tried to pass the truck. No charges were filed against Chandler.

But Steven D. Silverman, the attorney representing Yates’ family, said that the driver and his company were negligent because a surveillance video shows he turned right without signaling.

Also, “he took a right turn without making sure it was clear and free of traffic — cyclists or pedestrians,” he said.

The lawyer also argued that Yates was not negligent because statutes governing bicyclists require them to stay with the flow of traffic, as far to the right as possible.

“That’s exactly what Mr. Yates did,” he said.

More here, and, I’m sure, terrible comments from all the jerks in the state.

Have I just been living under a rock, or is this the first time it’s been made public that it was Potts & Callahan’s driver who was driving the truck?

I’m glad that Mr. Yates’ family is sticking to it, since it seems like the Police gave up.


[Pardon the terrible camera-phone picture.]
After last night’s rain and this morning’s wind, there’s stuff all over Baltimore’s streets and paths, waiting to get in your way on your ride to/from work/school.  I was dodging sticks and wet clumps of gravel this morning, when I happened upon this big mess on the Jones Falls Trail, just South of the 28th and 29th Street[s] bridges.  If I were not already late for work and had a saw/ax on me, I might have contributed to getting it out of the way.

I also saw an open box of Trek bike frames near the Streetcar Museum’s shed.  Bizarre.  They looked new?

Also, in a score for cyclists, a piece of my apartment building’s slate roof was on the walkway when I left this morning.  It was large enough, sharp enough and came from high enough that it would probably have killed you if it landed on your head.  In a Nutcase-esque helmet, though, I don’t know.  Maybe not.  Though, damn.  It’s scary to think of what a piece of slate the size of a small pizza could do, from the top of 4 1/2 stories.

Anyway, I made it to the Maryland Avenue bridge, two blocks from my office this morning, before the rain started.  I heard these bangs and thought, “What the @#$% is that?”  It was huge rain drops hitting my hardshell helmet.  In the two blocks in which I sped to work, I got completely drenched.  But on my entire ride up to that point, the very very wet roads and paths didn’t affect my sandal-clad feet, as my excellent fenders kept me very dry.  I’m wearing wet jeans and wet flannel now at work on my lunchbreak, though.  Not very comfortable.

It was a good ride.  With the wind that woke me up two hours before my alarm, I almost took the bus.  But with how nice it’s going to be this afternoon, I’d have felt like a schmuck standing on Charles Street and watching everyone else have all the fun.  To boot, the rain window during rush hour probably beckoned more folks than just me who were teetering on whether to ride or not in that wind.  Until the end, the skies were dry, if very cloudy.

And the wind: a moderate headwind for my entire ride, with some scary gusts.  I had to pedal downhill.  But it was good.  I need the exercise.  My bike was drenched, so I carried up the 14 flights to my office.  That hurt more than I want to admit.  My big ass is very out of shape.


If you’re a big fan like me (or a moderate fan) of Planet Bike’s great bike accessories and advocacy, you probably have one of their lights on your bike.  Their popular LIGHT FINDER for this year is up.  I have the new Blaze 2 Watt and the Blaze 1 Watt.  They’re freakin awesome.  But the Alias?  Wow.  When Baby comes to ElRo and I, we might have to score one of these for whatever cargo bike we adopt.


There’s a great post at Bike Radar about how to survive a bike crash, since we will all have one eventually. Before the safety dogs go nuts, think about this: How many people do you know who have never ever ever been in a car accident? How many people do you know who have never ever ever fallen down walking or running? I’m thirty and have been car-free for four years. And I’ve been in exactly five car accidents, one o of which I caused and one of which (not the one I caused) totaled my car. Sure, I know people who have been in fewer accidents, but I know people who have been in more, also, even people younger than I am.

I don’t know if everyone is going to crash on their bike, though.  There are people who ride way more than I do who haven’t crashed as adults.  Last winter, I went down on some ice on January (just a bruise and scratch in the paint of my downtube and a lot of thankfulness that there were no cars and that only one person saw me) and infamously went down in April (from which my hands are still busted up).  I know Mr. Zack had a (literally) scrape with the wall on the Jones Falls Trail switchback at Stieff, but he didn’t go down — just got rock-wall-rash on his arm.  Certainly, there are veritable bike heroes in Baltimore like Barry, who have been in some crashes.  But in a cases like this, I chalk it up to just plain high mileage.  I don’t know anyone who rides their bike more than folks like Barry and Greater Brown Bear.  In other cases, I’m sure, crashes get caused by people riding drunk, on dark streets sans lights, by not paying attention, easily-prevented equipment failure, etc.

Sometimes, as happened to me (with my little 8 mile commute) and as happens with high-mileage folks (certainly not including myself in that category), cars and infrastructure might eventually get you.  But will it get all of us, as cars are getting more used to seeing us and when the infrastructure for cycling in Baltimore gets better every single day?

I wouldn’t want to tell someone whose interested in cycling but afraid to take the plunge, “Dude, you’ll crash one day.  A pot hole, car door, ice, gravel, drunk guy — it’s gonna happen.”  But I wouldn’t want to outright lie, either.

Terrible news, from the Mailbox:

I passed a terrible sight this morning from the bus: a biker rider down in the middle of Eutaw St, just north of Druid Hill, around 8:45. I didn’t want to look too closely, but it looked like a white man with gray and brown hair, no helmet. He wasn’t moving. People were just starting towards him and I heard sirens a few minutes later. It upset me and I hope to hear some followup on what happened and whether he pulled through. Please post something publicly if you want, but could you also shoot me an email if you hear anything?

Does anyone have any info?

I don’t know how I feel about this video. On one hand, I’d want to do the same thing but with my U-lock. Had I caught the person who stole my bike three years ago, I might have lost my temper, too.  On the other, it seems like assault since they don’t turn him in but just vent; it’s all after the crime (theft) has been stopped — maybe?

On both hands, is he just going to do it again?  Did they accomplish nothing but venting (for which they might have a right I guess), or did they scare this guy out of trying to steal bikes (and maybe getting that drill in his forehead) in the future?

gywflls1009
This story showed up last Saturday, and kinda details what those of us that ride Gwynns Falls on a regular basis already know: the cops are gone. And, as it turns out, the trail naturalist and the other dedicated trail administrator are also being cut. So, instead of the 5, 7, or 8 cops (depending on who you ask) assigned to the trail (not at the same time, of course) there are two, which the city feels is justified because of the low rate of crime on the trail (when there were 5, 7, or 8 cops working). And trail maintenance will be kept up to current standards by regular Parks and Rec workers and inmates, according to a tepid, not-really-reassuring rebuttal to the Sun story by Parks and Rec administrator Wanda S. Durden. (I don’t know how the rash of kid gangs jumping bikers at the CSX bridge and Edmondson Ave. overpass figures into that. Nate Evans assures me the incidents are in his database.)

Maybe my getting ruffled here is an overreaction. The City promises to keep the trail safe and clean, right? But, honestly, the city was just barely keeping up on those things anyhow, and it’s hard to imagine a stretched Parks and Rec is going to somehow unstretch itself for a new assignment. I suppose the thing to do is pay close attention to what happens next, and if things start sinking anymore, raise a holy hell. That said, we should probably raise a holy hell anyhow: Gwynns Falls is an amazing thing to have right in the guts of a major city, and one of my own favorite places to go around here. The parallel dimension of crumbling road and thick woods between Windsor Mill Road and Dickeysville on the reclaimed Wetheredsville Road shouldn’t have a right to exist in Baltimore, but amazingly does. In DC, it’d be “rustic” townhouses.

Unfortunately, it strikes as one of those cynical budget cuts (timed for fall/winter) that out-of-touch administrators think won’t get noticed. And if it does get noticed, will look to most people like a trim of something that was wasteful anyhow. Which pushes me (us?) into the asshole argument of saying we should cut something else to save our pretty lil trail, and people less realistic than me into arguing that if Gwynns Falls goes downhill, people won’t want to move to Baltimore anymore for its stunning wildlands. So, maybe I don’t want to be that guy or any of those guys because, honestly, we’re getting close to siding with yuppies here. So, the point is, toughen up, get Kevlar tires and a tazer. Or write a letter to the powers that be.


As I recall, the bike lanes on University Parkway right below Roland Avenue, heading South, were the first ones in the City — or, at least, the first ones I ever saw. It was early fall 2007, and I was stoked. This was the sharrow right before the official bike lane, the first modern Baltimore sharrow I ever saw. I was sad to see it go today, so Dan and I got a little video of it.

I am extremely excited to see what replaces what’s gone, though. Parts of the bike lanes here have always been a little rough, and lately, they’ve been downright dangerous. Nate Evans told us there’d be smooth lanes soon, and he wasn’t fooling. I repeat that I am excited to see what’s next.

Roland Avenue is torn up between University and Coldspring Lane, too, so be careful.  Those parts were always full of craters anyway.  I’m glad that the City is maintaining the bike lanes a lot of folks use.  I read an article somewhere wherein someone complained that the University Parkway and Roland Avenue lanes were for “Roland Parkers”.  In my experience, not so.  Lots of people pass through, from the county, and heading to the county.  And, living in Roland Park, I see lots of $5,000 bikes ridden by folks wearing $200 outfits around here sometimes. But, brother, they ain’t goin to work. This route benefits more than Roland Parkers, that’s for sure.  Hell, I know some people who don’t like the lanes being here.

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