Our Thoughts on the Separated Bike Lane Network Plan

The 2015 Bike Master Plan comprehensively maps out bike routes in every neighborhood in Baltimore. It's a robust guiding document for bicycling in Baltimore, but it lacks specificity in two areas: facility selection and prioritization of implementation.

Recognizing these faults, Baltimore City Department of Transportation has drafted an addendum to the 2015 Bike Master Plan, the Baltimore City Separated Bike Lane Network.

Like our neighbors in the DC region, the addendum begins by mapping the level of "traffic stress" on each of Baltimore's streets, and then identifies a network of protected lanes and supporting bicycle facilities, like bike boulevards, to connect to existing facilities and existing "low-stress" streets. 

A "low-stress" street is far more likely to be used by people identified as "interested but concerned" bicycle riders. For example, only about 38% of "interested but concerned" bicycle riders would use a standard bike lane, but that number grows to 80% if protected bike lanes are present or if the street is slow, calm, and has a neighborhood feel.

Draft facility selection flow chart

Draft facility selection flow chart

The goal of this addendum is to make the majority of Baltimore City neighborhoods accessible by a barebones network of protected infrastructure, supporting facilities, and existing low-stress streets in just five years.

The plan is ambitious, and it is a giant leap forward in planning and prioritizing bicycle infrastructure in Baltimore. 

Things we really like about the plan

  • It creates a sensible and appropriate selection process for the type of bike infrastructure applied to streets.
  • It focuses on building infrastructure that will make a wide range of people comfortable riding bicycles.
  • It focuses on building out from, and connecting gaps in, our existing infrastructure.
  • It prioritizes building infrastructure in historically marginalized communities with low car ownership to connect those communities to existing infrastructure in areas of opportunity.

Things we don't like about the plan

  • It purports to be data-driven, but North Avenue and other major, high-stress roads were left off the map for protected infrastructure, despite qualifying by the plan's own metrics. This suggests "hard limitations" were placed on the planning process by BCDOT because they don't want to make North Avenue Rising better.
  • Already planned and funded infrastructure is counted in the "Within 2 years" implementation map, despite an overall Bike Master Plan goal of 17 miles of infrastructure per year. 

Here's what we want you to do:

  1. #FilltheRoom! Show up for the public meeting on Tuesday, February 21st at 6:30pm at the War Memorial Building.
  2. Leave feedback online by filling out this survey by March 15th. 
  3. Show up to the Planning Commission hearing (TBD) to support the addendum with incorporated community feedback.
Parallel facilities can't replace direct, protected routes.

Parallel facilities can't replace direct, protected routes.

We ask that in your feedback, you demand that high-stress roads like North Avenue, Belair Road, Liberty Heights Avenue, and Edmondson Avenue be prioritized for infrastructure as the plan's data shows, instead of making the easier and cheaper political choice of building "parallel facilities."