Baltimore City and BikeMore reach deal to keep bike lanes along Potomac Street

Public will have chance to weigh in on new plan
Posted at 3:51 PM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 17:54:15-04

They set up beneath the battle monument to celebrate.

"We feel really good that this is not just a win for BikeMore but it's a win for everyone who cares about public safety on that street," said BikeMore Executive Director, Liz Cornish.

Instead of a confrontation in the courtroom, BikeMore and the city hashed out a deal to keep the cycle track along Potomac Street.

"I'm glad we've come to this point," said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Residents sounded the alarm about the protected bike lanes last month after large emergency vehicles couldn't squeeze through the roadway with the way it was configured.

"Firetrucks, if they want to put their stabilizers out they would hit cars, they wouldn't be able to do it if there was a burning building," resident Travis Webb said.

"I've seen firetrucks try to make it up our street and, in fact, one of the firetrucks took off my parent’s rearview mirror while trying to test it in its first week," said resident Robert Connors.

Now, instead of demolition, a compromise.

The city says it's a solution emergency responders, cyclists and folks who live nearby all agree on.

"We will protect that bike lane, it will not be removed,” Mayor Pugh said.  “And if we angle park we provide emergency vehicles the access that they need."

She tells us the plan on the table involves eliminating the parking spots next to the bike lanes, than converting the spaces on the East side of Potomac Street into angled parking.

"Once that parking is taken out, there will be a little hump that protects the bike lane,” the Mayor’s Director of Communication, Anthony McCarthy said.  “So if cars are coming down, if the cars in any way deviate, they will hit a barrier."

Nothing is set in stone yet, but not everyone seems to be on board.  Some residents are worried about losing places to park, and people who ride say it could be safer.

"You can easily do the math, yeah angled parking you do get a little bit of increased capacity, but if you bump out 50% of your parking capacity on one side, the numbers don't work," Connors said.

“It's not as good as having the physical barrier, the automobiles, but still, I don't have to worry about cars opening their doors on me and things like that," said bicyclist Quentin Parker.

The mayor's office plans to have a timetable for the project modifications together by the end of this week.  We're told it will involve finalizing plans and then getting feedback from the public.

In the meantime, the bike lanes along Potomac Street will stay exactly as they are now.

Attorneys for BikeMore hope the group and city leaders can now work together make the entire city more bike friendly.