Friday, May 25, 2012

Expressway for Bikes

In the past couple of weeks, I've made drastic changes to both my morning and evening routes into work, coming up with what I think is both the shortest and the least trafficky way from Hampden to the Inner Harbor and back. I've completed them both in slightly less than a half hour, although that's only if all the traffic lights are working with me. I'm especially pleased with my evening commute, enough so to take a break from not posting on my blog and talk about it for a few hundred words.

View from the end of the lane, I love the color of that bridge.
Before, I was dodging evening traffic on Calvert, which I took mostly because it's either Calvert or Charles and there's slightly fewer cars on the former. Very slightly. Not a day went by where I wasn't yelled at or buzzed at least once, but that's what you should expect when you live in a city that didn't even make the top fifty American biking cities. (Okay, I know that these rankings are just a popularity contest and don't mean anything, but friggin' Orlando is on this list. Baltimore ain't Portland but there's nowhere in goddamn Florida that deserves to be on ANY "best biking cities" list.)

I've known for months that the Fallsway cycletrack was in progress, or had just finished progressing, or had yet to be completed... I'm not really as up on these things as I should be. I assumed that construction was still ongoing so instead of worrying about how I was going to deal with an unfinished road, I stuck with the devil I know. Then one afternoon I just said "screw it, let's try this out." It couldn't be any worse than dealing with northbound suburbanites who are already all pissed off about the JFX lane closure.
View of pedestrian path, bollards... and pothole.

The route isn't pleasant and picturesque in the normal sense of the word. You're sandwiched between the JFX and a succession of industrial buildings (and a jail). But who really cares? For a little over one glorious mile I'm completely separated from cars and that is the MOST pleasant thing I can think of. The road spits you out on Guilford Avenue, the first bicycle boulevard on the East Coast (but it's nothing compared to what Orlando's got). I've been taking Guilford into downtown every morning and I can say with confidence that it's at least ten billion times better than Cathedral. They're similar streets (one-way, multi-lane, 25 mph that really means 35), but the fact that Guilford is marked as a "bike boulevard" makes all the difference. So basically, suck on that, anti-infrastructure types.

It's not done, as the huge, evenly-spaced ditches can attest (it's just not a Baltimore road if there isn't at least one pothole every half-mile). I'm also still a little edgy about taking it in the wintertime but I'll cross that overpass when I get to it. For now, this is the fastest, safest way to get out of downtown on a bike. I'm sure glad I decided to try it.


  1. That first photo is right next to my apartment. The big red Beaux Arts Apartment building just out of frame to the left. :)

    Apparently, this is the skinny on the progress of the Fallsway MUP project:

    a) The whole trail, from Penn Station, through the Inner Harbor and connecting with the Gwynns Falls Trail in South Baltimore, is scheduled to be completed around May of 2013.
    b) As soon as they're finished with the Inner Harbor improvements, which is scheduled to be complete next week, they're supposed to return to the northern portion (north of the Prison) and finish up those pavement gashes, bollards intersection ramps, etc.
    c) After they finish up the northern portion they begin work on the middle portion between the Inner Harbor and the prison. When all that's said and done there will be a complete segregated route from the switchback onto Falls Road by Druid Hill Park all the way to the Inner Harbor, going in both directions.

    I'm glad to see you getting chippy about media slights and the fact that Baltimore is apparently invisible being between DC and Philadelphia. You're turning into a true Baltimorean. ;)

    1. When all that's said and done there will be a complete segregated route from the switchback onto Falls Road by Druid Hill Park all the way to the Inner Harbor, going in both directions.

      Holy crap, that's going to rule so hard. I can't wait!