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In the fall, University Parkway was resurfaced (check out the video of it getting eaten). The blacktop has been nice since then, but it’s lacked markings. As soon as the weather warmed a few weeks ago, the traffic lanes and bike lane lines went back up. Today, a crew was out on North-bound West University Parkway, putting in markings within the lanes. They look fantastic! Many thanks to the work of folks like Nate!
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.
They are being resurfaced, i.e., only kinda half exist now. Dan and I scored a lot of photos and a video, which we’ll get up later.
But you might wanna take another route home today and to work tomorrow!
In case you have missed it somehow, One Less Car‘s annual Tour du Port takes place this Sunday, all over Baltimore’s lovely waterfront. The forecast for Sunday is GORE GEE US. If folks who go would like to share pictures/stories, please email us (northbaltimorebikebrigadeATyahooDOTcom) to have them featured with credit and glory on this site. ElRo and I were going as a couple, but she’s not feeling up to cycling with “morning” sickness and a tiny person in there.
Also, a reminder for this weekend, when folks will be cycling all over Baltimore even more than usual: TAKE THE LANE WHEN YOU HAVE TO!! I was on the MTA bus yesterday, and I saw a guy who was obviously new to cycling, and he turned onto a busy street to the right of the right-turn lane, with traffic. When the bus stopped for a second, and I couldn’t see him, I thought the worst. If there’s ever a situation to take the lane, it’s turning right in a right-turn lane! (and turning left, and some downtown streets, etc.) For the love of JEHOVELO, take the lane! You’re a vehicle!
Also, useful info for those headed to TDP by bike from the North: St. Paul Street is getting resurfaced and is gridded and scary right now. It’s been too crater-rific lately to cycle on for the last few years, so this will be a great thing when it’s finished — and they are making pretty speedy progress. But this weekend, watch out. Also, University Parkway is still full of holes near the bus pads and has the bike lanes closed for much of the length. Heading South between Roland Avenue and 40th Street, there’s only one lane. TAKE IT!
Best wished to all Tour du Porters!
If you’re an MTA rider, you might have noticed the new bus pads going in along the #61 route heading South (Roland-University-St. Paul). There are orange barrels and construction equipment everywhere.
And there are holes. BIG holes. This is in addition to the terrible road surface that makes me avoid St. Paul Street between 33rd Street and North Avenue like the proverbial plague (I opt for Maryland Avenue in this case).
At University Parkway and Roland Avenue, there is a tub hole (graduated from a pot hole) and a huge linear crack running parallel to the lane, right in the middle of a Sharrow, where we’re supposed to ride before the bike lane kicks in — when the cars are still honking at each other because 4 in 10 drivers at that intersection at rush hour are on their phones (yes, I count sometimes when I’m waiting for the bus). This crack is big enough to throw you off of a mountain bike, so 700c/650b riders should really watch out. That’s a really hard spot to take the lane, too, since traffic is supposed to be merging.
Continue along one of the first (the first?) bike lanes in Baltimore heading South on University Parkway, and you’ll meet a hole large enough to throw a motorcycle (?) right in the bike lane at University Parkway and Keswick road. This is past that stone wall on the left, when most cars and buses are riding half-way into the bike lane already, and there’s construction equipment parked in the parking lane. Stopping and/or taking the busy lane might be necessary.
The bus pads have been finished for over a week, and no one’s come to fix these holes, some of which are big enough to be hazards for autos. The one at Roland and University makes the bus slow down! And this is a very heavy bike traffic route (for our city), so BE CAREFUL!
Also, right as you pass 40th Street on University Parkway, there is a linear crack where the bus pad and street meet that’s been there for years, and at least one NBBB person almost ate it on there one day a few months ago. This is the part of University approaching the bridge, between the two sets of bike lanes, when you really have to just take the lane no matter how bad the traffic is. I have personally almost gotten flattened by a Volvo there when the Sharrows were new two years ago and before I just decided that manners were less important than not getting flattend and started just claiming the lane when I need to.
My commute to work certainly isn’t among the City’s most challenging rides. Most of it involves a trip down University Parkway — in the morning, heading east, it’s a delightful zip down the bike lane, almost keeping pace with my four-wheeled friends to my left. On the way home, however, I’m faced with an inevitable uphill climb, and here I think I meet one of Baltimore’s most feared cycling obstacles: the University Parkway Monster — the stretch between Keswick Road and Roland Avenue that is grueling, merciless, and unrelenting. And don’t even try to make it easier on yourself by cutting through the residential streets to the right (the Evergreen neighborhood). There’s beautiful scenery, but not much relief.
Since I started my job last fall, I’ve developed all manner of artful ways to get around the University Parkway Monster. I’ll turn left on Tudor Arms and come through Hampden, or I’ll take a detour through Stony Run. But last Thursday (and it was H-O-T that day), I made it to the light at University and Keswick and thought, why don’t I give it a try for once? So I started the climb and actually made it this time! I was a sweaty sight (and smell) when I got home, but for once, I beat the Monster!
What are some other Monsters you’ve beaten, or have plans to beat, in Baltimore? I also nominate the stretch of 37th Street between Keswick and Elm in Hampden.
Stay tuned for some upcoming information about the Baltimore Bike Pageant on August 2!