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Baltimore must go back to the drawing board when it comes to the Roland Avenue cycle track

The editorial, "Amazon isn't the only reason Baltimore needs better bike lanes," (Oct. 6) is good in that it points out bicycling's many positive aspects, including bridging the last mile from transit to office, improving health and providing easy access to parks. I support both the Baltimore Bike Share Program and the planned cycle track in Canton. However, on Roland Avenue I prefer restoring curbside parking combined with a buffered bike lane, similar to the bike lane along reconstructed Charles Street near John Hopkins University.

The Roland Park Civic League (RPCL) advocated the original Roland Avenue Cycle Track, with the good intention of making it better for their children to bike to neighborhood schools. However after much experience and a year-long study, the RPCL in its May 24 report concluded that the cycle track made things worse and issued the following consensus statement:

"Either restore curbside parking with a wider, safer bike lane and slower traffic, or partner with the community to create a [solution] that works for everyone."

The report states that the cycle track has made things worse: caused conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists; increased the danger for people exiting/entering cars, and is too narrow — just four feet wide in some places. After I nearly hit adults and school children exiting cars, and learning that other cyclists had similar experiences — in addition to the five crashes between cyclists and right-turning cars documented in the report — I switched from the cycle track to the right-hand traffic lane, even though motorists now have to change lanes to pass. I feel that cyclist and pedestrian safety should come first. Roland Avenue was a major bicycle commuter route used by experienced cyclists, and the dangerous cycle track has forced cyclists to chose the least bad of two undesirable choices. Restoring curbside parking along with a wider conventional or buffered bike lane, eliminating parking, or removing a traffic lane are all much better solutions than the current chaos.

The end of the editorial states that the city needs to be willing to experiment with different ideas for how to make cycling work, I agree — and to try again when it doesn't. Roland Avenue is one place where the city needs to try again.

Jeffrey H. Marks, Baltimore

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