Do you bike to work? It turns out many folks in Bolton Hill rely on a bike to get around the city, or to reduce a household’s cars from two to one.
Last month, BHCA urged the city’s Department of Transportation to move forward on plans for a bike lane along Eutaw Place, but to take note of concerns of businesses and residents about the continuing need for car parking along the street. The organization sent a letter after a special Feb. 21 board meeting in which a wide range of opinions from Bolton Hill residents and others were heard. So far there has been no response to the letter.
A little history:
Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT) has been developing plans for more equitably shared road use for many years. Its Complete Streets policy, adopted in 2018, recognizes that our city’s pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair-drivers and transit users need to access and navigate our roads safely. Everyone pays the taxes that pave the roads and provide “free” parking.
BCDOT published plans for bike lanes in 2015 and an addendum in 2017, after multiple public hearings. The 2017 plan focuses on creating a network of protected lanes, to “increase the number of people in Baltimore City who can meet many of their basic travel needs by bike over the next two to five years.” Although the City failed to budget any bike lane projects, the state DOT’s Bikeways Program provided a grant to design the planned lane for Eutaw Place.
In 2022, BHCA initiated an information session on the plan’s status. This was the first time some residents were aware of the plan, which eliminates a third lane of overnight and weekend parking in the southbound lane of Eutaw Place.
Early in 2023, BCDOT informally communicated that it was “pausing” development of the project. BHCA quickly received pleas from two directions: from some nearby residents, the Estep Brothers Funeral Home and fraternal organizations concerned about loss of parking; and from bike commuters and other residents concerned that the city’s only active bike networking project might never be built.
BHCA held a special Zoom meeting on Feb. 21 for the board to hear neighborhood opinions and concerns about the protected bike lane planned for Eutaw Place. The board considered input from many sources: the recommendation of its Traffic Committee, a summary of city actions from council member Eric Costello, a petition to support the proposed bike lane signed by 112 Bolton Hill residents, and an email from the Eutaw Place Conservancy asking the board to oppose the southbound lane. The board also read the 36 written comments submitted by Feb. 20, and listened to the oral testimony of 30 individuals.
The board then voted to take a formal position on the lane; opinion on this was mixed and required a roll call vote. After discussion that acknowledged the concerns about adequate parking on and around Eutaw Place, the board voted to encourage Baltimore City Department of Transportation to “un-pause” the Eutaw Place bike lane project and to provide more information about possible alternative corridors, including those previously considered and the reasons they were dismissed.
Although this was board business, BHCA invited the public to participate by submitting written comments and by contributing oral testimony during the meeting. Notice of the meeting was provided a week in advance, via the BHEN email system and the BHCA Facebook page. If you’d like to be more aware of BHCA activities, please considering joining: you’ll get occasional emails about important neighborhood issues, notice of our meetings and the local pickup of parking permits, among other benefits. The first year’s membership is free.