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Archive for April, 2010

The City Paper‘s 2nd annual Bike issue highlights recent progress on the biking issue in Baltimore.

In the past year, two new bicycle shops have opened in Baltimore. Bike-repair collective Velocipede is frequently over capacity, resorting to waiting lists shortly after opening in the evenings, year-round. The City of Baltimore is poised to release its first-ever comprehensive bike map; official bike routes, lanes, and other improvements are sprouting on city streets like grease stains or potholes. Four landmark pieces of bike-policy legislation passed in the state legislature just last week. Bicycling magazine just placed Baltimore in its “Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.” And this is all recent–the evolution of cycling in our city over the past few years is on par with the evolution of fish growing legs, learning to crawl, walking on land, and standing upright.

Subsequent articles warn that if bikers don’t continue to advocate for greater bike safety, we’re likely to see more fatalities. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2010 Benchmarking Report, Maryland (nation’s richest state, etc.) ranks 33rd nationwide for bike and pedestrian funding. In a state as congested as ours we should be spending at the top.

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Flickr photo from sidewalk flyingOcean City recently announced that it will quit recycling to save $1 million a year. Maryland’s favorite (hmm, only) seaside getaway is set to produce yet more trash courtesy of the boardwalk’s overpopulation of tattooed dudes with bellies spilling over fire-emblazoned trunks. Truck loads of Bud Lite bottles, baked bean cans, empty Trasher’s buckets, ice cream-smeared cups, and Menthol Lite butts are slated to be incinerated in Chester, PA, supposedly producing “green energy.” If you consider acrid black smoke to be environmentally friendly, you should all cheery about this one.

OC’s Public Works honcho Richard Malone was not very upbeat about his decision, in fact he suggested that “you can hardly imagine” how the decision burned him from the inside, according to the Baltimore Sun. (more…)

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Bikes and Rights

John Yates Ghost Bike It’s 63 degrees and sunny in Baltimore today. Tis’ time to dust off the 10-speed, put air into those sagging tires and hit the road. A smile creeps across your wind-blasted face as you speed down Charm City streets around potholes, layered tar and broken asphalt watching for car doors opening, vehicles switching lanes, the tip of a sedan emerging from a cross street to make a right turn without looking left.

To bike in a city, one must have faith that car and truck drivers are also vigilant. The threat of being hit by an errant car or truck is always at the back of my mind, since my sister was hit a couple years back by an SUV changing lanes. As she lay on the ground, the driver shouted out the window, “you’re ok, right?” several times before reluctantly getting out of the car. She broke a few vertebrae and spent several months in a brace. John Yates was not so lucky when alleged hit-and-run driver and contractor Potts & Callahan Inc slammed into his bike on Maryland and Lafayette last August. Yates’s wife Ellen said he typically avoided city bicycling because it is so dangerous, but he opted to bike that day because he thought traffic would be bad. A heart-stopping white ghost bike memorial marks his fatal collision site. (more…)

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Martin versus Martin

Freewheeling, 100% tea party, corporate lobbyist, rainmaker, DJ — erstwhile Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich has lots of labels thrown around. What he is not: A throwaway competitor for our sometimes-soft current governor O’Malley. Now that O’Malley has a veritable challenger, he’s got to get his back up and tell his core party why they shouldn’t run someone against him on the Dem’s ticket. If I saw Mr. O’Malley today at the Downtown Athletic Club, I would not let him placidly run on the treadmill.  Here are some questions I would ask.

1. Does he really care about improving Maryland’s sagging and outdated public transportation system? Why is the Intercounty Connector is getting built (without a bike lane) while the Purple and Red Line are still faint plans on the horizon?

2. Is Maryland ever going to get tough with Eastern Shore poultry polluters whose run-off is ruining the Bay? Or is a band of law students the only group brave enough to take on this powerful state lobby?

3. Why don’t you create green jobs for Baltimore kids — build a giant city farm, like 100 Real Food Farms, train them to grow organic tomatoes for rich people– so they don’t have to become corner boys to get by?

3. Is your band still touring or what?

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Footloose

Baltimore Sun's Breaking News picWhile this blog was sleeping, the thermometer rattled up from wintry lows to a sweltering 90 degree high, matching a mark set in 1929.

It’s drinking weather. Jesus has risen. It’s almost the end of the week. Take a cue from the dude in bare feet and cut loose already.

“Wristbanding” for the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival begins tomorrow at 5:45 at the Timonium Fair Grounds. “Pitmasters” from Texas and North Carolina, bluegrass, cigar smoking, and whiskey drinking awaits revelers for tickets priced from $35 to 55. 40 bourbons will be on offer, from old standards like Jim Beam to 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle and 10 year-old Eagle Rare. You can drink your way through 60 beers (Although organizers include some suspect characters on the beer list, including Smirnoff Cranberry & Lime, Buffalo Bills Blueberry Oatmeal Stout, and 4 kinds of Woodchuck cider.)

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