A new bicycle lane and “floating” bus stops — raised platforms allowing buses to pick up passengers without pulling out of traffic lanes — are being installed on busy Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore as part of the $400,000 Hamilton Business District Streetscape project.
The elevated stops include a ramp from the sidewalk for passengers, and ramps in the bike lane to allow passing bicyclists to ride over the section between the curb and the platform, which is located amid a row of parked cars.
The new platforms and bicycle lane are “the first city project to utilize quick-build treatments that drastically change the character and feel of a Main Street corridor,” said Frank Murphy, Baltimore’s acting transportation director, in a statement.
The money for the project came from special state funding, according to the city transportation department.
“Traffic safety is a top priority for DOT, and we will continue our efforts to implement innovative improvements such as the floating bus stops and painted pedestrian bump-outs to make city streets safer for all users of the transportation system,” Murphy said.
The floating bus stops will eliminate the wait for bus drivers trying to merge back into busy traffic after picking up customers, said Brittany Marshall, a Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman.
“This in turn helps reduce transit vehicle dwell times and eliminate conflicts between transit vehicles and bikes,” Marshall said in a statement.
The collaboration between the state and city “is an example of our commitment to continuously improve reliability of service and performance throughout Baltimore,” she added.
Jed Weeks, policy director for advocacy group Bikemore, called the project “a huge step forward in how we think about streets in Baltimore” and “an example of DOT doing things right.” He credited City Councilman Ryan Dorsey, whose district includes Hamilton, with supporting the project.
“When buses don’t have to pull over to the curb, it allows them to pick up passengers faster and get back into traffic faster,” Weeks said. “It makes them more reliable.”
Dorsey said residents “have expressed a lot of excitement about slower moving traffic, and being able to more safely walk and bike in the area and support the local businesses.”
“This will help attract more businesses to the area, all users of the public right of way will be safer, and public transit will be improved,” he added. “Already, residents and businesses to the north and south are asking how soon we can do the same thing along the rest of Harford Road.”
The councilman said he hopes the project can be a model for how to “revitalize the economy and improve mobility” in neighborhoods across Baltimore.