How city bicyclists just lost my support for bike lanes
Jul 03, 2017 | 12:20 PM
Bike advocates gather at the plaza outside of Mitchell court house to celebrate the settlement in a legal fight that preserves a Canton bike lane. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)
As a Potomac Street resident, I have been somewhat on the fence concerning the bicycle lane which the city has constructed in front of my and my neighbors' homes. My first thought, naturally, was of the inconvenience and safety issues this construction causes residents. They are many. But I also understand the desire of bikers for safe passage while traversing the city's streets ("Bikemore drops lawsuit after city pledges not to demolish Canton bike lane," June 28).
However, an incident that occurred on Friday, June 30 tipped the scales. As I was making my way home in the early evening, I noticed that east-west traffic trying to cross Potomac Street had come to a standstill. "What was the reason for this?" I wondered. As I got closer to Potomac, the answer was evident: Hundreds of bicyclists were riding down Potomac to gloat, I can only assume, about Mayor Catherine Pugh's recent decision to keep the bike lane. Her plan would remove all parking from one side of the street and would place angled parking on the other side. The bicyclists on this day ignored all corner stop signs and rode en masse down both the current bike and vehicle lanes of Potomac. This not only stopped all east-west traffic from crossing at each corner but made it all but impossible for those cars trying to navigate the tight vehicle lane on Potomac. A few bikers even took to the sidewalks. Some performed wheelies and other acts of show-boating. Most bikers I saw were not wearing helmets.
And these are folks that are concerned with safety? I wonder. By bringing vehicular traffic to a stop on all streets crossing Potomac and completely ignoring existing traffic laws, they put themselves in danger. Not to mention pedestrians and motor vehicles in their path.
While I realize that what I saw on Friday was probably not indicative of Baltimore's more responsible bicyclists, it was enough to make me want no part of a bike lane on Potomac Street if the folks I saw will be using it. Even if just a few riders behave like this, there will be accidents. Maybe at some point, the city, residents and bikers can come to a compromise that meets everyone's needs if not all their wants. But the current plan, as I understand it, does not come close to filling that description. I look forward to the community input meetings which the mayor said are forthcoming.