About two dozen bicyclists called for the protected bike lane on Roland Avenue in Baltimore to remain in its current configuration in a “bike-in” demonstration Monday morning.
The bike lane, installed in 2015 during a road resurfacing project, is separated from traffic by parked cars and has received complaints from drivers who say it has made parking more difficult and dangerous.
Mayor Catherine Pugh, who is on leave, directed the Baltimore City Department of Transportation last month to replace the protected lane with a green painted lane on the outside of the parked cars, adjacent to vehicle traffic. The advocacy group Bikemore says doing so violates best practices and will cost the city $140,000.
Kimberly Lodge, 53, organized Monday’s “bike-in” event.
“We’re out here today in hopes that the Ex-officio Mayor, [Bernard C.] ‘Jack’ Young, will reverse this directive to remove this protected bike lane until the Department of Transportation has finished the studies that were started to make Roland Avenue safe for everyone,” Lodge, a Roland Park resident, said.
Spokespeople for Young and the city Department of Transportation, whose director resigned Friday amid a wide-ranging investigation into the department’s environment and morale, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
To create more room for bikes and parked cars, the city had planned to test a “road diet,” reducing a portion of Roland Avenue to one lane of vehicle traffic. But Pugh said it “is likely to create more problems than it solves” and canceled the plan.
“No matter how good the intentions were, this is just not a good bicycle facility,” Pugh said on March 29, citing complaints that the bike lane was too narrow and difficult to navigate. “There isn’t enough room on Roland Avenue for a proper cycle track, a buffer area, parked cars, and travel lanes.”
Jed Weeks, Bikemore’s policy director, said keeping the bike lane protected by a buffer of parked cars follows national best practices adopted by the city under the Complete Streets law.
“It’s very clear there is a large contingency of people who bike to school and need the street to be safe,” Weeks said.
Josh Renzi and his children Sophia, 14, and Zachary, 12, rode their bikes to Roland Park Elementary/Middle School on the protected lane from Cold Spring Lane with the group after the rally.
Renzie said he would never let his children ride alone in a bike lane adjacent to moving traffic.
“I like riding my bike,” Sophia said, “and if they take the bike lane away, I’ll have to ride on the sidewalk, and I don’t want to run into people.”
Her brother noted that the current configuration keeps a line of parked cars between traffic and the bicyclists
“The cars driving on the street can’t get close enough to us to have an accident,” Zachary said. “If they take this away, we could easily be hit by a car. We won’t be protected.”