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October 25, 2009

Councilwoman suggests bike lane innovation

City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke floated an interesting notion Sunday as she took part  in a neighborhood event in Roland Park.

Noting that the city is planning to repave Roland Avenue, she suggested that transportation officials install a two-way bicycle lane immediately adjacent to the curb, with a parking lane just to the left.

The idea, she said, is that the lane of parked cars would serve as a buffer between bike riders and the cars in the travel lanes. Clarke said the idea has already been tested in New York and Montreal. The bicyclists who were gathered nearby seemed to think that was a good idea.

So what do you say, two-wheelers and parallel parkers? Is the councilwoman on to something or has she just  slipped a gear?

Coincidentally, the Greater  Greater Washington blog is reporting that District officials are considering a similar idea for 15th St. N.W. GGW has a lot of good graphics that help explain the concept.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:00 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bicycles


While I applaud the councilwoman's good intentions, a two-way bike facility like this is very likely contrary to AASHTO guidelines. It makes crossing movements at intersections a bigger problem for both motorists and cyclists, and intersections are where the majority of collisions occur. Motorists simply will not see a cyclist coming the 'wrong way.'

I support most efforts to make the city more bike friendly. One concern with this would be that passengers would not be accustomed to watching out for bikers on the left side as they open their car doors.

My dream would be for all the bike lanes/sharrows that currently exist to be smoothly paved.

Likewise. The intention is good but I'd much rather see that energy applied to efforts that effect the entirety of roads that are shared with bicycles.. rather than special schemes for a select mile here and there.

Great idea! Making roads seem more dangerous has been resoundingly proven to in fact make them more safe, the idea is referred to as mental speed bumps. And let's stop putting the blame on cyclists; our automobile transportation system kills thousands of people every year without the incursion of cyclists.

Thanks for covering, Mike. Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke supports better conditions for city bikers and she is a good listener.

Also, glad to see that you don't always wear a jacket and tie on the job.

See my pic of the Councilwoman chatting on Roland Ave on Sunday (

I was encouraged by Councilwoman Clarke's openness to ideas presented at the Equal Rights for Bikes taskforce meeting. Though the taskforce would be a bit redundant, since the MBAC exists, it was nice to see the council become more aware of the efforts of cyclists and planners in the city.

Here's to a better bike future.

A one-way "cycle track" could be appropriate and valuable there, although to get the necessary buffer for that type of facility would probably involve removing an auto travel lane.

On the other hand I don't think that a two-way facility would be appropriate there, generally we want to encourage cyclists to travel with traffic.

Overall cycle tracks need to be well designed to address some of the safety issues associated with operating near, but not with, automobile traffic, but several cities in the US and around the world have done so successfully and they make comfortable spaces that attract new cyclists.

For more info about Portland, OR's experience go to

Thanks for your coverage of the Sunday Streets and the hearing.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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