Being green gets easier: improvements are planned for Baltimore’s bicycle network

UBGreen encourages alternative transportation, including bicycling, to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. Over the next two years there will be extensive improvements to the bicycle network around campus. Baltimore’s new Downtown Bicycle Network will consist of improved bike lanes running east and west as well as north and south. Also, a city-run bike-share system is coming later this summer. Bicycling will become a safer and more practical transportation choice.

Bike lanes coming

A cycle track is planned for Maryland Avenue, with a June start date for construction. A cycle track is a protected bike lane, with a physical barrier between the bike lane and traffic. Several of these facilities already exist in Washington DC, a city with fast rising cycling rates. The Maryland Avenue project is expected to take 90 days to complete. The cycle track will run right through campus to the Inner Harbor southbound and north to 29th St. in Charles Village near Johns Hopkins University.

183 UB students live in the 21218 zip code, 239 live in 21201 and 205 live in 21202. All three zip codes will be a short distance from the new cycle track, putting at least 627 UB students within easy biking distance of UB.

Additionally, students biking to UB from zip code 21211, where 89 students live and which includes Hampden and other northwest locations, will be able to bike the Jones Falls Trail and connect directly with the Maryland Ave. Cycle Track and take it south to campus.

“I would definitely use that route,” said UB student Mia White. “It would give me a safer, more populated route back up to Hampden after dark. And it will mean I can get from my house to campus without having to use any major roads!”

“Charles Village residents would be able to get to UB pretty much instantaneously—and safely, of course–using the cycle track,” said UB student Zachary Holbrook, who commuted to UB by bicycle, regularly, when he lived in Charles Village.

“It’s quicker by bike than car,” said Joshua Davis, assistant professor of history at UB. Davis currently commutes to UB by bicycle, from the Charles Village area, whenever weather allows. “I think the main reason it’s quicker is that it takes a decent amount of time to find a parking spot in the garage and then walk a few blocks back to campus. So a lot depends on where in Charles Village one’s coming from but also where one would be parking.” Davis currently commutes down the bike boulevard on Guilford Ave. and would actually benefit from a second cycle track, planned for Mt. Royal Ave.

The Mt. Royal Streetscape/Cycle Track is another bike facility that will connect our campus with MICA and Bolton Hill. It is scheduled to break ground in 2017, according to a news post by Bikemore, Baltimore City’s bicycle advocacy group. The post appeared on the organization’s website Jan. 7.

Advocating for safe bicycling

Bikemore wants more students to join the campaign to make Baltimore safer and friendlier for bicycles. Adding members helps Bikemore be persuasive with politicians who sometimes don’t realize many people want safe and convenient bike routes. Bikemore offers a $25 student membership for any student who wants to get on board.

Bikesharing

In addition to the cycle tracks, a Baltimore bike-share system is sched- uled to launch this fall. Bike-share is a public system that rents bicycles for short-term use. $500 thousand for a bike share system implementation is part of Baltimore’s new public transit plan. With UB right across the street from Penn Station, students are likely to have ample opportunity to participate in bike-share. Baltimore City estimates 300-400 bicycles to be available, initially. UB is evaluating adding a bike-share station directly on campus, according to Jeff La Noue, UB’s sustainability planner.

New at UB

UB recently installed covered bike parking in the Maryland Avenue Garage (MAG). The rack is geared for UB students living in the Mt. Vernon area who may not want to lug their bikes to upper floor apartments, but still want to keep their bikes in a safe, covered area. However, bicycle parking at the MAG is not meant to be treated as an attic. UB commuters are welcome to it as well. Bicycle parking in the MAG is free.

Look out for a bicycle-commuter class this semester. The UB Student Government Association (SGA) and the UB Bicycling Club are working to bring you this event to help make your trip to campus easier.

UB has free showers and lockers at the gym on the third floor of the Academic Center. There are additional state-of-the art showers located in the basement of UB’s Law Center. Showers on campus help make bicycle commuting convenient. There is bicycle parking, outside and under cover, near most of UB’s major buildings.

Join the UB Bicycling Club and get to know the local routes with a group. Scott Thomsen, president of the club, plans to use the Maryland Avenue Cycle Track frequently for club rides. “We could definitely make use of it whenever we go north, or even south for that matter,” he says. To join the club or find out more, visit Org Sync or search the University of Baltimore Bicycling Club on Facebook. Additionally, you can contact Thomsen at Scott.Thomsen@ubalt. edu. Thomsen is a freshman at UB and plans to commute to campus by bicycle for the next three years.

Can UB be a “Bike Friendly University?”

Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) is an official designation given by the League of American Bicyclists with awards ranging from bronze to platinum.

BFU awards are official recognition that a campus creates safe and convenient places to ride and park bicycles, teaches people of all ages and skill levels, builds a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling, ensures safe roads for all users and plans for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option, states the League of American Bi- cyclists on its website. In Maryland, designated BFU’s include Towson University (bronze) and University of Maryland (gold). UB, Salisbury University, and UMBC are expected to apply for official Bicycle Friendly University Status in August. UB’s 2011 BFU application fell short. “Progress is happening so we have more to offer in our application this time” said Jeff La Noue. If UB gets official BFU status, we will be the first Baltimore City university to achieve that goal.

It seems like a practical choice to me.

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