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The problem:: The bicycle rack at Baltimore's first on-street bike parking area in Charles Village is missing.

The back story:: Susan Walther was excited after her new neighborhood, Charles Village, became home to Baltimore's first on-street bicycle parking area.

She and her husband are cyclists, and they have admired other bike-friendly communities around the country and in Europe. The on-street bike parking, in front of Eddie's Market in the 3100 block of St. Paul St., was lauded by city officials when it was installed in March.

When Walther moved to the neighborhood in July, she was happy to see the feature, even though she lives too close to the store to take advantage of the rack. Still, she was disappointed when the rack didn't return after it was removed for a recent repaving of St. Paul Street.

"It was a big deal. ... To have it go away so quickly, it was like, 'Well, that's no fun,' " Walther said.

The good news is, the bike racks will return - although there will be fewer spots for bikes than before, to balance with demand for car parking, said Nate Evans, the bicycle and pedestrian planner for Baltimore's Department of Transportation. At the request of the design review committee of the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development, three racks will be installed perpendicular to the curb, rather than parallel to it. The change opens up one more car parking space, said Sandy Sparks, a Charles Village resident and member of the PUD committee.

"We certainly don't want to discourage bike use here, but rather make it knit well with car parking," she said.

The original bike rack was never full, Sparks said. And although the rack was confined to one car parking spot, additional curbside space was blocked off for safety reasons, she said.

"To non-transportation engineers, it looked like an overly generous amount of space devoted to this," Sparks said.

The new racks will accommodate six bikes, Evans said. There are also bike racks in the 3200 block of St. Paul St., as well as in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore at St. Paul and 33rd streets, Sparks said.

The new racks arrived last week, Evans said, and the transportation agency's maintenance crews will install them in the near future.

Walther was relieved to hear that the rack would be replaced.

"As long as we have more people thinking about bikes, this is terrific," she said.

Who can fix this:: For problems with most bike racks, contact the nearest property owner. For on-street bicycle parking problems, contact Nate Evans, bicycle and pedestrian planner, Baltimore Department of Transportation, 410-396-6856. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

Need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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