MICA president not convinced bike lane on Mt. Royal makes sense

Fred Lazarus says lane might have "ripple effects" on car congestion and pedestrian safety.

lazarus molla

Michael Molla (left) and Fred Lazarus (sitting) answer questions about MICA’s position on a bike lane on Mt. Royal Avenue.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

At a meeting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, audience members listening for the university’s position on a dedicated bike lane on Mt. Royal Avenue heard some mixed messages:

“We are committed to the process of dedicated bike lanes” – Michael Molla, vice president for operations.

“What I need to be convinced of is that a bike lane would not impede the safety of pedestrians” – Fred Lazarus IV, president.

MICA officials were trying to mollify the Baltimore bike community up in arms following reports that MICA and the University of Baltimore oppose a bike lane on Mt. Royal between Charles St. and North Ave.

Bike lane advocates, a dozen of whom crashed the Wednesday Town Hall meeting, focused their attention on Lazarus, who has personally shaped the art school during his 34 years as president.

They pressed him to take a stand in favor of the dedicated lane. Penny Troutner, owner of Light Street Cycles, said that without his advocacy, the city Department of Transportation would likely back away from the proposal.

Politely but repeatedly, Lazarus demurred.

“Does bike sharing make sense?” he asked. “What are the options?” he wondered at another point. “We don’t have near enough [information] for a decision,” he concluded.

Effect on Car Traffic

Lazarus made it clear that he was wary of the “ripple effects” of a bike lane, especially on car traffic that currently uses the road.

The bike path would reduce the number of lanes from two to one (each way) on a road that experiences what he called “solid backups” during rush hour of motorists getting on and off the Jones Falls Expressway.

Bikes lined up in front of MICA's main building before the town hall meeting. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Bikes in front of MICA's main building before the town hall meeting. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

“We are a ramp to the expressway. That’s a given,” he said. These backups now pose a serious hazard for MICA students trying to cross Mt. Royal to get to classes and their dorm rooms, especially at McMechen St. where traffic from Bolton Hill merges onto Mt. Royal.

How much worse might the backups become with a bike lane, he asked. And with such heavy traffic, “is this the best place for bikers to be,” he wondered, suggesting that the city should consider channeling bike traffic to Park Avenue, which parallels Mt. Royal to the west.

600 Signatures

Bike advocates told Lazarus that they’ve collected more than 600 signatures in favor of the dedicated lane, many from MICA and UB students.

MICA senior Liam Quigley told Lazarus that the issue boils down to a question of “safety versus a mild inconvenience for drivers.”

Biking on Mt. Royal is currently very dangerous for cyclists, Quigley said, because of the narrow space between parked cars and two lanes of moving traffic. “You’re putting the safety of students at risk,” he said.

Jed Weeks and Chris Merriam argued that a bike lane would lead to greater safety for pedestrians because it would act to calm traffic. They later cited a 2008 mini-charrette on Mt. Royal Ave. that noted: “back-ups no longer a problem (they were 25 years ago); people driving too fast is a problem.”

Merriam said a dedicated lane with solid white lines protecting a biker’s space from intruding cars is the best solution. “The city agrees that a dedicated lane is the only safe approach on busy arterial streets,” he said.

Students Shun Cars

Even without bike lanes running down its main thoroughfare, MICA is the most cycle-dominated college campus in the metropolitan area.

Molla said that the school is constantly adding bike racks. Fifteen or 20 bikes crowded alongside a campus building is a frequent sight.

The school issues far fewer permits for student parking than a few years ago.

In 2008, Molla said, 151 parking permits were issued to students living in the Commons dorm building. This year the number is down to 78 permits.

Lazarus agreed that owning a car isn’t a priority for MICA students – for financial as well as environmental reasons – and reiterated that “the goal is to encourage biking.”

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  • James Hunt

    “Bike lane advocates, a dozen of whom crashed the Wednesday meeting, …”



    Exactly what’ll happen when you mixed undergrads and cyclists on a busy, narrow thoroughfare like Mt. Royal Avenue.

    What’s wrong with Park Avenue? Why couldn’t it be a bike boulevard like Guilford Avenue is (or will be soon)?

    • Liam

      Nothings wrong with Park Avenue, but we’re talking about Mt Royal. Many cyclists ride here everyday, students and others, without the added protection of a bike lane. Cars continually speed here and nobody stops for pedestrians in crosswalks. Reducing Mt Royal to a bike lane and a car lane would solve all these problems. 

      • James Hunt

        No, it would just p*ss off motorists trying to get to and from the JFX on an even more jammed up Mt. Royal. The “one lane for bikes and one for cars” deal on University Parkway makes sense because there are far fewer cars and pedestrians. It makes no sense on Mt. Royal. Fred Lazarus, who knows the area as well as anyone, is right to put the brakes on this proposal.

        • Liam

          Try bicycling on this roadway everyday to get to classes or work. Try crossing in the crosswalks on Lanvale, where even if one lane of speeding traffic yields to you, the other lane of traffic can not see you and continues speeding on. There are people who live, work, and go to school on this street everyday and deserve better than a bunch of people speeding to and from the JFX. 

          • James Hunt

            Try putting yourself in the place of a college president who’s done an extraordinary job of making MICA a top-flight school and who doesn’t want to see his students whacked by cyclists. It happens, and it’s not pretty for rider or pedestrian.

            Try putting yourself in the place of a motorist sitting on Mt. Royal Avenue who’s trying to get her kid at child care before incurring late fees and is sitting in a line of cars, with a largely empty bike lane taking up space.

            I commuted for years on a bike in Baltimore and my rule number one is, look for the lightly used routes and try to avoid making life suck for everyone else.

          • Guest

            A JFX ramp straight through the middle of campus is about 100 times a greater danger to pedestrians than increased bicycle traffic.  Annually, motor vehicles kill thousands of pedestrians in the country, and place tens of thousands of pedestrians in hospitals.  While is it possible for cyclists to injure, and sometimes even kill, pedestrians, comparatively to motor vehicles cyclists only represent a fraction of a fraction of the danger that motor vehicles do.

            Furthermore, there is no data, whatsoever, to support any claim that improved bicycle infrastructure represents any increased danger to pedestrians at all.  Quite the contrary, actually.  Improved bicycle infrastructure actually leads to a safer environment for pedestrians.

            “Try putting yourself in the place of a motorist sitting on Mt. Royal Avenue who’s trying to get her kid at child care”

            It wouldn’t be an issue at all if the city’s road network was improved and Mt. Royal was no longer used as a high traffic & high speed  ramp for the JFX.

          • Liam

            I wish I could share your cowardly approach to bike commuting, but I don’t really have a choice but to ride on Mt Royal avenue. 

          • James Hunt

            Liam wrote: “I wish I could share your cowardly approach to bike commuting, but I don’t really have a choice but to ride on Mt Royal avenue.”++++++++++++++++++++++You’re a real empathetic fellow, Liam. Seems like The Urbanite just did a cover story on folks like you. Sorry about your lack of choice, but chances are you’ll have a job and/or a child at some point in your life that will require you to drive a car now and again.Here’s a memo for you, whippersnapper: I was riding my bike all over this town long before you were a twinkle in your mama’s eye. (And I’m sure she took you everywhere on her bike.) I’ve read all the lit about “road diets” and such forth and I’m not impressed. All you Church of the Latter Day Bike Evangelists talk a good game about saving the environment but you couldn’t give a crap about what the everyday working stiff has to go through to make a living.

          • Dukiebiddle

            James Hunt, you lack a fundamental understanding of how traffic works.  If Mt. Royal was narrowed down to a single lane in each direction, that would not cause massive unpredictable gridlock that would make moms with babies in the back hours late to important appointments.  That mom, just like 40% of the other people currently using MICA and UB as a JFX ramp, would use other routes to go to the same places they were going to before.  Traffic patterns would adjust to the new reality, and the people currently using Mt. Royal would  MAYBE have 3 minutes added to their commutes, while other drivers using the other routes effected would maybe have 30 seconds added to their commutes.  These traffic changes would very predictable and adjustable for the road users.  If that mom currently leaves for work at 8:27, she would simply leave for work at 8:24 instead, and probably wouldn’t even notice that she made the adjustment.   She may continue to use Mt. Royal, which would take her maybe 3 more minutes, or she may change her route and begin using the Guilford Ave. entrance, or using the 28th street ramp, which both may add 3 minutes to her commute.  The argument being made here is that the safety of the MICA and UB student bodies, as well as the safety of everyone else living in the general vicinity of Mt. Royal,  justifies a traffic configuration that eliminates using Mt. Royal as a high speed traffic ramp and limits the number of through-traffic vehicles that use Mt. Royal to access the JFX .

            I should also point out that your claim, much like Lazarus’s claim that more congestion would lead to more danger for pedestrians, is a false dichotomy.  Fewer cars moving more slowly on fewer lanes across the MICA campus would not create more danger for pedestrians, as well as for cyclists and the motorists themselves.  It would make the campus a safer place.  Lazarus may be a wonderful college president, but he doesn’t know anything about traffic, and in this instance seems to be more concerned about accommodating through traffic than benefiting the well being of his students, whether  they are pedestrians, cyclists or motor vehicle commuters.

            Traffic engineering has changed a great deal in the 20-30-maybe more years since you used to commute by bicycle, and that’s a good thing, as current traffic engineers have a better understanding today than they did before, and the dominant school of thought today is that from the postwar period to the very recent past traffic engineers wildly exaggerated the importance of moving as many single occupancy vehicles as possible as quickly as humanly possible, and we are currently suffering the consequences of misplaced prioritization.  Roads are also much safer today than they were 20-30 years ago, and even though our population is much larger fewer cyclists and pedestrians are getting killed than when you were commuting, and that is due in large part to the planning and road engineering that better accommodates modes of traffic other than the single occupancy vehicle, including pedestrian and cyclist traffic.  We all now know how horrible and dangerous roads were 20-30 years ago for cyclists.  We also know how many more cyclists were killed in those days than now, even though there were fewer people and a lower percentage of those fewer people used bicycles for transportation.

            As for your sweeping generalization that all people who look at this issue differently than you are a bunch of bicycle evangelical environmentalists, I can assure you that I, at least,  have no more concern about the environment than the average person, and would never consider myself an environmentalist.  It’s a transportation issue and a livable space issue.  We have built our infrastructure incorrectly for at least the past 62 years, and everyone, especially people who live in cities, have been suffering the consequences.   Planners and engineers, to their credit and for our benefit, are working to correct those mistakes.  It isn’t about bicycle evangelism.  It isn’t about putting cyclists first over motorists.  It about making better infrastructure that accommodates everybody better.

            Did you know that reducing the number of vehicles on the road by just 3% can reduce congestion by as much as 30%?  Nobody is saying everyone has to get rid of their cars to make way for cyclists.  But if cycling can be a part of the solution to reduce vehicles in the city by just 3%, and it doesn’t have to be the whole solution, just a reasonable part of it,  those cyclists “getting in everyone’s way” and “not caring about working stiffs” could actually reduce congestion and make everyone in their cars, including moms with babies in the back seat and “working stiffs” living 30 miles out in the suburbs, get around faster in cars, even if they lose a lane or two to accommodate critical bicycle arterial routes.   Mt. Royal is one of those critical routes, as there is no other way to connect Mt. Vernon and the whole of East Baltimore to MICA , Bolton Hill, Reservoir Hill and beyond.  To get to Park Ave. bike lanes need to be accommodated between Lanvale and Guilford.

          • James Hunt

            James Hunt, you lack a fundamental understanding of how traffic works.  If Mt. Royal was narrowed down to a single lane in each direction, that would not cause massive unpredictable gridlock that would make moms with babies in the back hours late to important appointments.  That mom, just like 40% of the other people currently using MICA and UB as a JFX ramp, would use other routes to go to the same places they were going to before.


            DB — This is known as “argument by assertion.” You’re asserting that  vehicle drivers will find other options, but you have no idea where they’ll go.

            Unlike, say, in SF, where cars dispersed into a fairly vast grid when the elevated expressway along the water’s edge was lost in an earthquake and not rebuilt, there is only one other place for commuters in the northwest quadrant of downtown to get onto the JFX, and that’s Charles Street. Which is  jammed as it is. Otherwise, they’ll have to pile onto already congested arterial streets which run through neighborhoods. Not fun if you live in those places, particularly the low-income neighborhoods west of Reservoir Hill.

            As for getting 3 percent of the cars off the road, it may happen, but is it really going to happen because there’s a bunch of newly-minted cyclists? Simply by dint of Baltimore’s rolling topography, “four seasons” of weather, and the threat of theft, it’s hard to see that sort of growth in commuter cycling.

          • Anonymous

            San Francisco’s “vast grid” was able to easily accommodate the shut down of an entire highway of a scale comparable to the JFX.  The  arterials street in Baltimore,  including the 28th street, St. Paul St, Guilford Ave. ramps would only be asked to accommodate the displaced traffic of a single lane of traffic from one arterial.  Likewise there are many northbound routes that would absorb the traffic from downtown, it’s just that fewer drivers would reflexively choose Charles and North Calvert to exit downtown towards Mt. Royal, and would choose routes futher south on the grid to head north.  Please, for the sake of honestly, do not try to pretend that Baltimore has a worse traffic problem than San Francisco, or that Baltimore’s grid is more taxed than San Francisco’s.

            As for getting 3 percent of the cars off the road, it may happen, but is it really going to happen because there’s a bunch of newly-minted cyclists?  
            Simply by dint of Baltimore’s rolling topography, “four seasons” of weather, and the threat of theft, it’s hard to see that sort of growth in commuter cycling.”
            Baltimore, just like just about every other city in the United States, is experiencing an average 33% growth annually in cycling modal share and has experienced a 300% in the past decade.  Winter cycling counts carried out by the Baltimore DOT showed over a 100% growth in cycling share this one winter alone.  That is largely attributable to… drum roll… infrastructure improvements.

            It’s the lack of infrastructure that makes rolling topography and “four seasons” of weather a greater challenge.  When cyclists are forced to share the lane, there is a degree of social contract that the cyclist will not dawdle and ride as fast as they can manage so as to not hold up traffic anymore than necessary.  90% of cyclists sharing the road ride in this aggressive manner.  When there are bike lanes that frees up cyclists to ride a more relaxed 10 mph pace.  8-10 mph on a geared bike, even up hill, is healthy exercise but not overly exerting to a person of moderate good health, and cycling would give people that moderate good health.  FWIW, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle all have more rolling topography than Baltimore and all manage a greater cyclist modal share than  Baltimore.  Also, when there are separated bicycle lanes, as cyclists can ride at a more subdued pace, seasons also become a minimal to non factor.  40% of Copenhageners manage to transportation cycle throughout the winter, and that is in Scandinavia.  These are all merely excuses to pretend that what is actually happening here can’t possibly happen here.

            If there were a better way than Mt. Royal to connect cyclists from MICA, Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill to midtown and East Baltimore I would support it, but Mt. Royal is the only option available.

          • Marc

            Exactly Dukie; well said. People always use the “weather” and “rolling topography” excuses to dismiss the future of biking in Baltimore, never mind the superior cycling stats in cities with crummier weather and topography than Baltimore. Even insanely hot, humid New Orleans and ATLANTA have a higher cycling rate, for chrissakes:

            James: Before you start accusing others of “argument by assertion,” try wringing the grandiose assertions out of your comments first (many of them are nothing but!). The biking advocates in this city (and others) generally *have* been using King’s strategy of compromise and negotiation: what else would you call a bare-bones, stop-and-start “system” of road-paint “bike lanes?” Weather and topography (unless these two are really extreme) do not cripple the potential for bicycling in a temperate city like Baltimore (see above link). Your Boomer biases over cycling as merely being some  sort of recreational frivolity don’t apply to ever-younger generations (see demographic stats of bike riders) who are more and more considering bicycling as a serious form of transportation (as it once was). And after *so many* decades of motorist entitlement (what else would you call the devolution of Baltimore streets/neighborhoods like Charles + Mt. Vernon just to accommodate convenient blow-thru motoring?), don’t you think it’s a bit rich to accuse some “spandex warriors” of elitism and selfishness?

            Drop the febrile insults and the statist 1950s traffic engineering mindset. And please dispose of the sloppy Kotkin-esque excuses and the tiresome contrarianism.

          • Liam

            You still haven’t told us how the bicyclists in the empty bike lane are going to hit pedestrians. 

          • James Hunt

            Liam — The lane will be empty but for the occasional random soul such as yourself. Pedestrians won’t see you. You — intent on getting where you’re going, won’t see them. Collision.

            Incidentally, you and your fellow riders really ought to take a Dale Carnegie course, ’cause you’re not winning in your friends. First, y’all jump ugly as a group on Fred Lazarus, then you individually lay in with the name-calling: “cowardly”, “uninformed,” yada, yada, yada.

            Get some p.r. skills and learn the art of negotiation.

          • Liam

            I can’t figure out if you live more in the past, or more in a fantasy world where bicyclists don’t exist but hit pedestrians every time they enter a roadway. 

          • Mark

            Well put.

        • Dukiebiddle

          James Hunt, the point is the city needs to  change the traffic configuration so that Mt. Royal serves the residents and student bodies along its route, NOT be a  ramp for the JFX, and the community and the student body needs Lazarus and the UB President to stand up and acknowledge this to be true..

        • Anonymous

          More lanes does not reduce congestion, and there’s more than enough room on Mount Royal for a bike lane, whether or not they reduce it to one traffic lane. Beyond that, they should build bike infrastructure on every street, which is what the city council called for when they passed the complete streets bill. 

    • Lars Peterson

       What’s wrong with Park Avenue is Howard Street.  It can’t be a bike boulevard because its terminal points in Bolton Hill are dangerous for inexperienced cyclists.

    • Dukiebiddle

      Park Avenue is great, and undoubtedly the best way to get to Reservoir Hill and Mondawmin Mall from MICA.  The problem is Mt. Royal Avenue and Park Ave don’t go to the same places.  The MICA student body needs a safe connector to Mt. Vernon, and by extension to the city’s bicycle infrastructure network, which is in Mt. Vernon, to get to housing and studios in Station North East, to get downtown, to Southeast and to North Baltimore.  A bike lane on Mt. Vernon is the only viable route to connect MICA to the city’s bicycle network.   Also,  cyclists in Mt. Vernon need a way to get to Park Ave., so they can get to Reservoir Hill, and the only way they can do that is by way of Mt. Royal Ave.  Again, likewise, cyclists in Reservoir Hill need access to the Cultural District, and the only way they can do that is a bike lane connecting Mt. Royal.

      Liam makes some good points about Mt. Royal northwest of Lanvale St.; but southeast of Lanvale St. Park Ave. is not an option, and frankly there is no safe option, because 80% of functional and necessary routes that MICA students may need to take off of campus are by way of Mt. Royal Ave. southeast of Lanvale.

    • Liam

      Oh, and if the bike lane is going to be “empty”, where are the cyclists that are going to hit pedestrians going to come from?

  • Flint Arthur

    Lars Peterson,

    The primary entrances for most of MICA’s buildings are along Mount Royal Avenue.  Students want to be able to bike to class.  Mount Royal is definitely the heart of the MICA community.

    I agree that many vehicles travel much to fast down Mount Royal Avenue.   We ought to be doing what we can to make college campuses both bike and pedestrian friendly. 

    I say that as the husband of a MICA alumni and a former resident of Bolton Hill: Eutaw Place, Waxter Way, Park Avenue, and The Fitzgerald.  Currently living on Park avenue in Reservoir Hill. 

  • Gerald Neily

    The traffic patterns are too complex for simple answers. The biggest problems are the horrible JFX ramps, which have huge and widespread adverse impacts. They should not be declared “a given” as Fred Lazarus asserts.

  • Bmorepanic

    Is it possible to do something actually nice – like sidewalk, 8-10 foot two-way bike lane,  median, 4 moving vehicle lanes, sidewalk?

  • Marc

    Some of the commenters here (and on the earlier article) are expressing a weird bias/entitlement:

    – Apparently pedestrians need to be prepared to modify their traveling behavior and/or walking patterns so as not to inconvenience motorists.
    – Apparently bicyclists need to be prepared to modify their traveling behavior, cycling routes, and/or cycling patterns so as not to inconvenience motorists.

    – But GOD FORBID the precious motorists ever be asked to change their driving behavior or traffic/commuting patterns so as to show other modes of traffic some consideration!

    Contrary to popular belief, the roads – especially those in urban areas – are not and never were intended to solely serve cars:

    From that article:
    “What’s happened is that a certain segment of the population that grew up
    in an era when bicycles were regarded as toys rather than
    transportation (roughly the 1950s through the 1980s) were ill-trained to
    deal with bicycles on the road. Rather than learning, they have
    stubbornly resisted the fact they have always been required to share the

    So learn to share the road – you don’t own it all! And I don’t think a properly-integrated bike lane* will be the end of the world.

    *Maybe finding a way to extend that narrow two-block side street (in the 1500 and 1400 blocks of Bolton Hill) running along Mt. Royal Ave north to North Ave (to connect to Mt. Royal Terrace) and south to the U of Baltimore and repurposing it as a dual side street/bikeway would work.

  • John Stechschulte

     “What I need to be convinced of is that a bike lane would not impede the safety of pedestrians” The Federal Highway Administration has something to say about that:“Road diets” which reduce the automobile capacity of roadways, and provide more space for cyclists and pedestrians, have been put on a short list of Proven Safety Countermeasures by the Federal Highway Administration. Far from impeding the safety of pedestrians, bike lanes will make all road users safer–pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.So, Pres. Lazarus, are you convinced?

  • @ecogordo

    It is time to start working together and thinking about a future when pedestrians and cyclists will far out number cars in the city.  Think about dozens and dozens of bikes on Mount Royal all the time. Think about diverting cars away from people in the best parts of the city to make it a better space for living and moving together.

  • Richard

    These bike lane arguments are ridiculous. People need to learn to ride their bike with auto traffic and shut up about having bike lanes everywhere. When I ride my bike, I ride with traffic. When it’s safe, I move to the right hand side to let cars through. When it’s not safe, I take the lane and let the cars deal with it. Whenever possible, I try to take less traveled roads, but when I need to ride with cars,I buck up and do it. I’m courteous at all times because I know that if I get into it with a motorist I’ll lose. I don’t complain, I just use the same roads everyone else does and I get along fine. I see no need for bike lanes. They are an absolute waste of money. If you want bicyclists to be treated with respect, then go out and use the existing road network. If you are scared about riding with cars, get a transit pass.

    • Anonymous

      Richard, I’m presuming you are not 10 year old child, or a 65+ year old, or a woman.  Children likely lack the skills to share the lane safely with motor vehicles.  While women are generally just as physically capable as males, all the data shows the due to the female higher propensity for risk aversion the overwhelming majority are not willing to ride in the manner you are suggesting – and often gravitate to the far more dangerous, and illegal option of riding on the sidewalks, if at all.  Many seniors who would benefit from increased cycling, both as exercise and as a transportation option, cannot do so due to sharing the road being too harrowing for them or simply being unable to ride at the high speed sometimes necessary when sharing the road.  Infrastructure that is built to only accommodate young males is, at the very least, insufficient to serve any transportation function; and likely failing to serve the population in any capacity.  It’s also arguably fundamentally unequal.  Roads are not intended to accommodate young males better than others; and if they are, that means our infrastructure is broken.

    • Liam

      Sorry Rambo, but Mt. Royal is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists, and just because you feel confident in your riding style doesn’t mean others should have to adopt it (or that they can).

    • Anonymous

      Rich this attitude keeps most cyclists off the road. This especially hurts cyclists who are new and not strong, so have to go slow. Bike lanes allow people who want to go slow to not be honked at and harassed. Forcing cyclists to ride on the road means we stay <1% of commuters. That doesn't work economically for the long term health of the city. Building bike lanes is cheap, especially when you include it in the cost of existing renovations. Building bike lanes is a hell of a lot cheaper than the transit system, which is spotty and inefficient and cannot handle increased load from people if/when gas prices shoot up further.

      Cycling elitism helps no one.

      • James Hunt

        “Cycling elitism”? Tell it to the spandex warriors who behave as if they own the bike lanes. C’mon … a separate bike lane on Mt. Royal is going to attract the kids and the grannies? You’re kidding, right? To the extent that they’re going to ride at all, that demographic is going to take their chances on Park Avenue first. Or, more likely, haul the bike in the car and use the dedicated trail in Druid Hill. (Not that huge numbers of people do, but I do appreciate having a nice, quiet place to walk the dog.)

  • Freddie

    There is simply too much traffic to allow removing two lanes to accommodate bikers. What about removing parking from one side of the street and making it a two way bike lane. I have sen this done in parks but don’t know if it would work on the street.

  • James Hunt

    The city has NOT MANDATED complete streets. Read (or re-read) the other article Fern wrote about this.

  • Jed Weeks


    I don’t know what to say. Your last comment really nails home your view of cycling as a means of recreation. A lot of us (though as a car owner, I’m not included) RELY on bikes.

    Park Avenue doesn’t go to the same places as Mount Royal. I could advocate for bike lanes on Lake Avenue also. That wouldn’t help cyclists trying to get from the bike boulevard on Guilford to MICA or the Lyric or any of the many other cultural attractions along Mount Royal.

    * There’s room for dedicated bike lanes.

    * DOT included dedicated bike lanes as an option in original planning documents

    * DOT says bike lanes will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

    * Traffic studies show that it will only increase travel times for cars along Mount Royal by
       1-2 minutes.

    Are you just blindly going to state other things for the sake of it, or are you going to refute any of these facts listed above? Most of the statements you’ve made go against prevailing wisdom and research.

    Re: negotiation lessons– I do wish we could have initially approached this differently, but the approach we took is the only one that got responses from the city and the universities. Trying to be nice failed. They refused to listen.

  • Jed Weeks

    And Jamie,

    I’ll add two more things: calling someone a spandex warrior isn’t helping any. And, the city council HAS mandated complete streets unless DOT provides a documented exception. The issue is that this resolution, while a mandate, is unenforceable. 

    • James Hunt

      Jed —

      1. If it’s unenforceable, it’s not a mandate. This is the sort of legislation the City Council does best. We lost the battle to save two great buildings on Redwood Street because the Council-approved URP that called for their preservation was unenforceable. Go figure. 2. There’s room for anything if you take away a lane of traffic. 3. Are you agreeing that grannies and 10-year-olds won’t be using this lane? Does the DOT study have anything to say about that? Really, what kind of usage numbers are we talking here? I’m on and around University Parkway and the JF trail a lot, and I seldom see other bikers. 4. Is that 1-2 minute delay at rush hour? ‘Cause, if so, I”m calling BS on it. Fact is, if there’s just one lane, cars trying to get on the JFX will be stacked up back to the Lyric Theater. Part of the function of two lanes is to give cars a place to be when the light at North Avenue is red. And so on.

      Sorry, I love bikes and biking in the city. I used to commute (work out of home now) and more recently used my bike to quickly blaze out a West Side walking tour. But the miserable attitude of too many advocates really grates on me. I don’t know Fred Lazarus, but the guy has done as much to make MICA a great school and North Avenue a great place to be as anyone. He deserves respect and time to consider this issue. And if he decides not to support it, then so be it. Deal with it. Fact is, many pedestrians don’t “see” cyclists, particularly undergraduates, who tend to be engrossed in their thoughts. (I did an endo at Saratoga and Cathedral when one stepped out on me, and there were plenty of close calls besides.) So, if he’s worried about his students, that’s his call. Maybe he’ll change is mind later; maybe a future president will.

  • Liam

    Are you just trolling now? More than 200 women signed the petition to support the bike lane on Mt Royal. 

  • Unellu

    Marc–lovely, lovely comment!  I had to look up Kotkin–learned something too.  Febrile insults that would be James Hunt– he always resigns from the thread, when he feels further flames in the air.  But he is no troll.  He does belong and adds valuable insight.  He is worth reading just for his language–grandiose but eloquent, old world and pompous BUT unique.  You’ve gotta hand it to Hunt— if he is lost to the BREW, it would be a LOSS.  He IS a curmudgeon about the bike lane–but he has no clout to stop it and to wrestle him down to the ground on the issue is not a necessary victory–or is it?  

    • James Hunt

      Unella wrote: “Marc–lovely, lovely comment! I had to look up Kotkin–learned something too. Febrile insults that would be James Hunt– he always resigns from the thread, when he feels further flames in the air. But he is no troll. He does belong and adds valuable insight. He is worth reading just for his language–grandiose but eloquent, old world and pompous BUT unique. You’ve gotta hand it to Hunt— if he is lost to the BREW, it would be a LOSS. He IS a curmudgeon about the bike lane–but he has no clout to stop it and to wrestle him down to the ground on the issue is not a necessary victory–or is it?  ”


      “old world and pompous” … won’t fit on the back of a jersey, but I’ll take it.

  • Barry Childress

    First I’ll say if government gave guarantees that gas will remain under $3 gallon for the next ten years, I would throw my hands up and surrender to not inconveniencing cars in the slightest. But we have no such guarantee, in fact it looks like we will see over $4 a gallon* this summer and the result will be less car traffic and more bike traffic. (I could go into child obesity, air quality, quality of life, making Baltimore attractive for more people to live here and so on but this will do for now.) Next, while I respect anyone to make comments on behalf of the organization they represent and on the subject how this will effect their members of that organization but to make a case that MICA’s mission is to be a on ramp for I-83 and MICA is THE expert on the subject is absurd. That would like giving me the final say on funding stem cell research, not that I don’t have an opinion but I am not an expert on this topic nor is it part of the issues of those I represent. The same goes for Mr. Lazarus, clearly he is grasping at straws to hide his anti-cycling bias.Re: “What I need to be convinced of is that a bike lane would not impede the safety of pedestrians” – Fred Lazarus IV, president.Really??? Baltimore City represents a whopping 32% of the states pedestrian crashes (with cars), over 5 years that’s 4,547 pedestrians hit by cars in Baltimore City** and he is concerned that calmer traffic will make that number worse? Again just more anti-cycling bias. Conclusion: I am sick and tired of unfounded idle speculation killing bike lanes in this city. One third of New York City bike lanes took space from cars and there is no significant difference in New York City’s car traffic. New York City does metrics before and after installing controversial bike lanes and they can say these are the benefits and this is the down side we have measured (any change in the roadway will have pluses and minuses) but Baltimore City does no such thing, it is as if who can tell the most outlandish hyperbole wins. We have to put an end to this! Demand proof of outlandish claims. Where in the world have bike lanes impeded pedestrian safety? Where in the world has removal of a travel lane caused a “ripple effect”? My compromise position: We need a one year study to give us some real numbers to talk about. Sure it might cost us dearly if the numbers do not pan out favorably and we will have to remove the bicycling facility but then we will have a better idea what works and what does not. This approach is preferable then letting any and all anti-cycling hyperbole win every time. .* $4+ a gallon for gas: ** MSHA Pedestrian Crash Summary:
      Currently 0.00/5

  • Miss Maryland

    “Carry on without me, lads (and lasses, if there are any interested in bike lanes).”
    OK, so this is 2 months late, but the female cyclist perspective isn’t really represented on here and I thought I’d step up. Hopefully someone will find this useful at some point.

    I really hope you weren’t thinking when you wrote that. Look around you and note that just about all the posters here (unless I missed anyone) from the cycling community are MALE. There’s a reason for that, and it’s been backed up by numerous surveys and studies. I won’t bother to try and put links up here – just google it. 
    So here’s the reason: women are more hesitant to cycle in close quarters with motor vehicles. During my first two years as a cyclist, I rarely ever used a road that didn’t have some kind of a bike lane. This was in London (and before you call me out for being European I am from MD), where there are lots of bike lanes, and, not coincidentally, a more even proportion of female to male cyclists. 

    There was also a study done a year or two ago (it’s in the Guardian UK bike blog) that showed how women were more likely to become victim to a serious accident involving trucks because of a tendency to cycle as close to the kerb as possible. I always had stayed close to the kerb, but after reading that article I had to *train* myself to take the lane – or at least take a few feet worth of space for myself. So, what happens when someone crowds the kerb? You a) end up in the blind spot of large vehicles when stopped at an intersection (meaning a large truck or SUV could take you out when making a right turn) or b) are more likely to crash into either the sidewalk or a parked car when an aggressive motorist zips by at close quarters OR you get hit by the opening door of a parked car. Many women would like to cycle but CHOOSE NOT TO because a lack of bike lanes. Ideally, we’d prefer separate lanes, but hey, even an unseparated lane is an encouraging start. I used to take a route to work that was an extra 15 minutes long just so that I could ride along the canal and not encounter any cars.

    People who are *against* the concept of this bike lane seem to be forgetting something: students will cycle in dangerous places to get where they need to go. This will continue to happen even if Park Avenue gets the lane. If putting a lane in reduces the risk of death or serious injury at the cost of an extra few minutes added to a motorist’s commute, heck I think it’s worth it. 

    And maybe it’s time to start looking beyond the stereotype of men in lycra who can “deal” with the pressure of the road as it is now because, um, well, “they’re men”. I’m not saying women can’t deal – I’m female and after a few years of experience under my belt I’m fully confident that I can tackle these situations. 

    I can’t speak for all women, but looking at the identifiable trends coming from relevant surveys – trends that echo my own experience – we DO NOT like sharing lanes with cars, and we will even choose to NOT cycle or – even worse – to ride on the pavement and endanger pedestrians if we find ourselves on a busy and dangerous road that has no bike lane. 

    And then if we get more bike lanes, hopefully I won’t be the only female voice on a thread like this. 

    • James Hunt

      Miss Maryland wrote: “… And then if we get more bike lanes, hopefully I won’t be the only female voice on a thread like this.”


      Unella’s a woman. I think.

  • February 12, 2016

  • February 11, 2016

    • What makes a good park bench? The same elements the Roman architect Vitruvius found in all good design: Firmness, Commodity and Delight. What’s the difference between a good park bench and a great park bench? That’s a question Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Development Co. wants to explore as it seeks to create a world-class waterfront environment […]

  • February 10, 2016

    • Arguing that a trash-burning power plant proposed for South Baltimore would violate the federal Clean Air Act – and that its permit expired nine months ago – two groups are suing the New York-based company developing it. The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and United Workers today notified Energy Answers that they intend to file a […]

  • February 9, 2016

    • Some political candidates use Apple products to write their position papers and email their staff. Northeast Baltimore’s Rodney C. Burris dangled a couple of the trendy devices in front of potential contributors as a way of raising cash. In return for a contribution of $10, contributors get a chance to win an Apple Watch or […]

  • February 6, 2016

    • Emergency repairs to a 20-inch main will result in temporary water shutoffs to about 450 houses in the Canton area on either Monday or Wednesday. Service will be interrupted at 165 houses on Monday starting at 8 a.m. and ending about 4 p.m. The affected properties will be on Montford between Foster and Fait, Fait […]

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • December 15, 2014

    •   “Ha ha, so not a surprise.” “Shocking…not!!” We get applause but also the occasional eye-roll these days for our accountability reporting – like last week’s piece about how tax cuts promised by the mayor as a selling point for Horseshoe Baltimore probably won’t happen, thanks to the casino’s lower-than-expected revenues. We get where the […]