Some big changes are coming to Southeast Baltimore that indicate major improvements connecting those neighborhoods to Downtown. Two projects--opening access along the Promenade for bikes, and the new Potomac Street Cycletrack mean that beginning this Fall it will be possible to bike from Patterson Park to the Inner Harbor or Fed Hill almost entirely on protected facilities.
Changes to Promenade Access and Upgrades on the Jones Falls Trail
Historically biking was restricted on the Promenade east of President Street. Beginning May 20th (just in time for Bike to Work Day!) new signage will be in place signaling the area is now open for bikes. The new signs will indicated shared bike and pedestrian use, caution bikes to move slowly in areas often congested with pedestrians, and direct people away from the Promenade to the Jones Falls Trail where between the Cheesecake Factory and the Science Center bike traffic will remain prohibited. This expands bike access on the Promenade considerably, and simplifies past rules that were hard for those new to the city to understand and even harder to enforce.
Additionally, the Jones Falls Trail will receive a much needed facelift with the addition of green paint indicating that is a bike facility. The Jones Falls Trail will remain a shared use path, but the addition of the green paint will help indicate to pedestrians and the numerous drivers that like to use it as a place to drop off passengers to respect and expect bike traffic. Paint treatment is scheduled to be completed Late Summer/Early Fall.
Potomac Street Cycletrack
Beginning this year, construction will begin on the Potomac Street Cycletrack. The two-way parking protected lane will extend from Patterson Park all the way to Boston Street.
The project will be installed using a phased approach. Temporary materials will be used in Phase I to support quick implementation, followed by a community input session on how the cycletrack should be improved permanently.
At a community meeting held last month, residents came with excellent questions regarding the new construction. All in attendance were excited about the ability of the cycletrack to calm traffic on this residential street by reducing travel lanes and decreasing crossing distance for pedestrians.
The project will result in minimal parking loss, most standard at intersections in order to "daylight" cyclists behind park cars. Bike stop signs for north bound bike traffic will be installed at intersections, including signs for East and West Bound vehicle traffic to "Look for Bikes" in both directions for drivers previously used to only looking for southbound traffic.
Better Protected Networks
These two projects together mean huge improvements in connecting Southeast Baltimore to Downtown. Once both projects are complete it will be possible to travel from Patterson Park to the Inner Harbor entirely on protected or off street facilities. Future improvements include bike signals on Boston Street to improve connections from Boston to the Waterfront and way finding signs directing people to useful (but hidden to those not in the know) Eastern Promenade.