November 2, 2010

Bicyclist urges hikers: Stay right

Monte Schwarzwalder of Columbia wrote in to say he "couldn't agree more" with Monday's Getting There column stressing that bicyclists owe pedestrians in crosswalks as much deference as we require motorists to show (though we're often disappointed by both groups).

A bicyclist himself, Schwarzwalder offerd some suggestions to hikers on sharing hiker/biker trails with bikes. It would be easy to dismiss this as a representative of one group lecturing another, but his suggestions make good sense from both points of view. (I've been in both roles.)

When I ride on paths I always give out a lusty "Passing on the LEFT" as often
as needed.  If I don't get their attention I try to be careful.  Extra careful
around kids and strollers.

Continue reading "Bicyclist urges hikers: Stay right" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:44 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Off the roads

October 27, 2010

Loch Raven trail dispute spurs 'emergency' meeting

Bike Maryland, the organization formerly known as One Less Car, has called what it describes as an "emergency" public meeting to discuss trail restrictions in the woods surrounding Loch Raven Reservoir.

The meeting, apparently  prompted by some run-ins between mountain bicyclists and Baltimore Department of Public Works rangers, is scheduled for 7 p.m.-9  p.m. TThursday night at  the Timonium Fairgrounds' Fasig-Tipton Building.


Continue reading "Loch Raven trail dispute spurs 'emergency' meeting" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:57 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Off the roads

One Less Car changes name

There's one less One Less Car in Maryland. The pro-bicycle, pro-hiker, pro-transit group has decided to narrow its focus and call itself Bike Maryland, with a mission of promoting bicycling and bicycle safety in the state.

Carol Silfdorff, who will continue as executive director of the new group, said the  Bike Maryland name reflects that narrowed focus.

"We certainly want less cars but I think this name is much more positive and it's easier for folks  to understand what we do.  It's easily recognized," she said.

One Less Car has been known as the sponsor of the annual Tour du Port bicylcing event and also as an effective advocate for bicycle-related legislation in the Maryland  General Assembly and Baltimore City Council.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:51 PM |
Categories: Off the roads

September 2, 2010

JFX getting a little curb appeal

The State Highway Administration is planning a makeover for the Jones Falls Expressway that doesn't involve paving or striping. Nope, this project is purely curb appeal. A new landscaping plan to remove invasive plants and replace them with native trees and grasses is in the works, according to a report today by my colleague Tim Wheeler. The agency is spending a little more than half a million to clear up the jungle along the JFX and expects the project to be completed by spring.
Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 9:28 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Off the roads

August 12, 2010

Get breaking news on traffic, transit here

Has a four-vehicle crash closed the Jones Falls Expressway? Did a light rail train jump the tracks? Are hundreds of passengers stranded on a MARC train?

You can find out fast by receiving text message alerts from The Baltimore Sun's Breaking News Desk. Just click here to sign up to receive traffic alerts and other news as it happens. These are not routine announcements or advisories about everyday congestion but the type of major developments that can help commuters get to home or work faster.

There is no charge for the service from The Sun, though standard test-message charges from cell phone providers may apply.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:28 PM |

December 23, 2009

Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009

Apart from disasters, transportation stories tend to unfold over the course of many years. Some of the ones that garner big headlines at the time will be all but forgotten in a few years time. So in choosing the Top 10 Maryland transportation stories of the past decade, it helps to project forward to 2020 or 2030 and look back at what made a lasting difference.

A little disclosure is in order. I have covered transportation for The Sun since 2004 and before that followed many transportation-related stories as a State House Bureau reporter. So there might be a bias in favor of the stories I covered. (Thanks to my colleague Scott Calvert to reminding me of the Howard Street Tunnel fire, which occurred before my time on the beat.)

With those caveats, I present my top 10 in the bottom-to-top format made wildly popular by David Letterman:

10. Light rail double-tracking project completed. When Baltimore's light rail system opened early in the 1990s, it soon became clear that the system had been built on the cheap. The decision to run trains on a single track over long stretches led to constant delays and operational difficulties. Thus, under the Glendening administration, the decision was made to add a second track. The Ehrlich administration then made a tough decision to expedite the work by closing down the southern and northern stretches of the system for periods of about a year. It was a rough time for light rail users, but the project was finally completed in early 2006, and the result has been much more reliable service on this still image-impaired system.


                                                                                                 Sun photo/Amy Davis/2006      

Continue reading "Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:33 AM | | Comments (7)

December 11, 2009

LaHood rebukes senator on bike paths


Bike path


AP photo         

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn recently singled out federal spending on bicycle paths as examples of waste in the use of economic stimulus funds. That earned him an unusual smackdown from none other than U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former GOP congressman.

Bicyclists might enjoy this.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:00 AM |
Categories: Off the roads

December 4, 2009

Middies to keep highway shipshape

Midshipmen from the Naval Academy will take part in the State Highway Administration's effort to keep Maryland's roadways clean Saturday by picking up litter along Ritchie Highway (Route 2) just outside Annapolis.

The middies will be taking part in the agency's Adopt-a-Highway program between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Lumber 84 just north of U.S. 50. According to the highway administration, volunteers have saved the state millions of dollars by picking up trash from alongside Maryland's non-interstate highways since the program started in 1989.

The state highway folks are always looking for new groups to join in the community service work. Information of the program can be found by clicking here.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:22 PM |
Categories: Off the roads

October 14, 2009

Hatem Bridge traffic to be detoured

Westbound traffic on U.S. 40 will be diverted off the Susquehanna River bridge several nights next week for deck repairs, the Maryland Transportation Authority announced.

Depending on weather conditions, the westbound lane of the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge will close Monday through Thursday at 8 p.m., reopening at 5 a.m. the following mornings. Crews will be installing and painting the new deck of the nearly 70-year-old structure.

Eastbound  traffic will not be affected.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:54 AM |
Categories: Off the roads

July 30, 2009

N.Y. tow truck driver texts, talks, crashes

Here's one more reminder why the Maryland General Assembly enacted a law, which goes into effect Oct. 1, banning text-messaging while driving:

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (AP) — Police say a Buffalo-area tow truck driver was juggling two cell phones — texting on one and talking on another — when he slammed into a car and crashed into a swimming pool.
    Niagara County sheriff's deputies say 25-year-old Nicholas Sparks of Burt admitted he was texting and talking when his flatbed truck hit the car Wednesday morning in Lockport.
    The truck then crashed through a fence and sideswiped a house before rolling front-end first into an in-ground pool.
    The 68-year-old woman driving the car suffered head injuries and was in good condition. Her 8-year-old niece suffered minor injuries.
    Sparks was charged with reckless driving, talking on a cell phone and following too closely. It couldn't be determined Thursday morning if he has a lawyer.

It is illegal in New York to drive while talking on a  hand-held cell phone. Earllier this week, A Virginia Tech study issued this week found that truck drivers who were texting while driving were 23 times more likely than other truckers to have a crash or near-miss. A group of U.S. senators proposed a bill this week that would require states to adopt texting bans.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:14 PM |
Categories: Off the roads

June 9, 2009

D.C. launches construction of new trail

The District of Columbia has begun construction of a new 8-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail between Silver Spring and Union Station.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:58 PM |
Categories: Off the roads

June 3, 2009

Two regional events for trail devotees

Saturday brings two events to the region that could interest folks who like nothing better than a good trail.

One is at Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Va., just south of Mount Vernon. It's the American Hiking Society's National Trail Day from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Information can be found at the society's website.

The other is the opening of the hiking and biking lanes on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail, crossing the Potomac River between Prince George's County and Alexandria, Va. That trail opens to the public at 1 p.m.

More information follows:



Continue reading "Two regional events for trail devotees" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:17 PM |
Categories: Off the roads

May 18, 2009

Cool resource for hikers and bicyclists

The Rails to Trails Conservancy bills itself as a "nonprofit organization working with communities to preserve unused rail corridors by transforming them into trails, enhancing the health of America's environment, economy, neighborhoods and people."

The group's mission is to promote the conversion of unused railroad right of way into trails for hiking, biking and other uses. The web site includes a useful guide to trails all over the United States. It's worth checking out.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:15 AM |
Categories: Off the roads
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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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