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With boat show in Annapolis, downtown businesses find relief in bike lane aftermath

Lauren Lumpkin
Contact Reporterllumpkin@capgaznews.com

With hundreds of people flocking to the U.S. Sailboat Show on a near-perfect fall day, some Main Street business owners in Annapolis were glad there was one less obstacle on Sunday.

That came when Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley prematurely ended the controversial downtown bike lane experiment last week ahead of one of the busiest weekends of the year.

The sailboat show ends today, then the U.S. Powerboat Show begins Thursday and runs through Sunday. Along with the spring boat shows, these events give local businesses a big boost.

Cynthia McBride, the owner of McBride Gallery, said she was “relieved” when she saw the bike lane being taken down last Monday.

“I’m so grateful to the mayor for removing it,” McBride said. “It’s been very difficult.”

McBride said the bike lane severely reduced parking near her shop. Her older customers need to park close to the store and nearby parking is necessary for moving large pieces of art, she said.

Since the bike lane was removed, McBride recovered a loading zone in front of her store for deliveries, as well as a handicap parking spot.

“My clientele is not in their 20s or 30s,” said McBride. “Some of them don’t have the legs and the feet to walk from Hillman Garage, down Main St.”

Cafe Normandie owner Suzanne Evennou said she was happy about the bike lane’s removal.

“We were down 30 percent at one point because of the bike lane,” she said.

Kären Montgomery, who has owned The Clay Bakers pottery shop on Main Street for nine years, was one of the few who were mourning the loss of the short-lived bike lane.

“I loved it,” Montgomery said. “I’m very disappointed that it’s gone and it’s sad that people were so aggressively against it.”

Montgomery said she was one of the few Main Street business owners who supported the bike lane. In preparation, she purchased two patio sets for outdoor seating.

“I loved being able to look out my front door and not see cars,” she said.

Evennou said patio seating has never been an issue for her. The bike lane installation included a sidewalk extension project with public cafe tables and chairs.

“We’ve never had outdoor seating. It’s never worked for us,” Evennou said as she quickly sat customers who flooded into the French-inspired restaurant.

The bike lane, erected in mid-September, was supposed to be a 30-day experiment, but after ongoing pressure from business owners, Buckley decided to cut the project short two weeks early.

The project was pulled just in time, said Judy Schwartzberg, owner of The Big Cheese.

“It was gone in a blink,” the deli owner said about the bike lane. “It was one blink too long. Everyone’s delighted that it’s gone.

Schwartzberg’s restaurant is not on Main Street, but she called for support among all local business owners.

“We are a village downtown and it behooves us to take care of one another,” she said.


U.S. Powerboat Show

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday (preview day), 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Where: Annapolis City Dock Tickets: Available at www.annapolisboatshows.com. $35 for preview day. Adult one-day tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the gate. Adult two-day, $31. Preview day and another day, $48. Children 6-12, $5 per day. Free for kids 6 and under. Parking: $10 at Navy/Marine Corps Stadium. Free shuttles will run throughout the day.


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