The construction of the 2.6 mile two-way protected bike lane on Maryland Avenue and Cathedral Streets is now well underway. The two-way lane runs on the east side of the road along the curb, and will be protected by a painted buffer with flex-posts and a row of car parking. At intersections and driveways, green paint striping is used to further highlight where to expect bicycles. For a significant portion of the project, the road narrows to just one car travel lane, further calming traffic and making the street safer for all road users.
Completion of the 2.6 mile route is expected in late October.
The design of this lane is compliant and recommended by the National Association of City Traffic Officials, and is identical in design to successful protected lanes in cities across the world.
As installation continues, there will likely be a number of questions specific to this installation and to installations like this as a whole.
PeopleForBikes has compiled evidence of the economic and safety benefits of protected bike lanes, which can be accessed here.
Below is a Q&A more specific to this project.
How do I use the street?
How much parking will be lost in the 2.6 mile corridor?
15 parking spaces will be removed on Maryland Avenue. These spaces need to be removed to ensure people riding bicycles are visible to people walking or driving cars through intersections and in and out of driveways. Peak hour restrictions currently exist on several blocks in Mount Vernon, and will continue to exist after the project installation. No new peak hour restrictions are implemented.
How are schools/loading/etc handled?
Part of this project included working with schools and businesses to ensure proper loading areas and school pick-up and drop-off zones will be accommodated. Loading and unloading at Baltimore School for the Arts, for example, should improve over existing conditions.
How will removing one car lane affect traffic?
Traffic modeling shows that reduction of a travel lane will not significantly affect traffic. Turning lanes at intersections that experience the most delay in the modeling will mitigate those delays. Baltimore is one of the few major cities that still prioritizes cars being able to go through quickly (motor vehicle level of service) over the safety and convenience of all road users, and this project would not have been approved if it drastically worsened vehicular throughput.
How will emergency vehicles be affected?
The bike lane is delineated with plastic flex-posts, that can be run over or parked on by emergency vehicles if needed. The bike lane is accessible by emergency vehicles at the start and end of every block, and also at any driveway mid-block that accesses the street. In emergency situations, the bike lane can serve as a fire lane, allowing emergency responders to park closer to buildings than before, when parked cars occupied that space.
How will this affect retail businesses?
In other cities where these kinds of bike lanes have been installed, data shows there has been either an increase in sales or no effect to existing businesses. In no corridor studies has there been a reported decline in sales.
How will this affect property values?
In other cities where these kinds of bike lanes have been installed, data shows property values tend to increase along the corridor. For residents concerned with additional tax burden related to increased property value, we suggest looking into the various programs available from the city and state to limit or offset property tax increases.
The Maryland Avenue Cycle Track is part of the larger Downtown Bike Network, building protected bike facilities that make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to safely and confidently ride a bicycle.