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Transportation

Baltimore Battles Its Bike Lanes

What happens when city residents go to war against cycling infrastructure?
When cities install parking-protected bike lanes, motorists and residents sometimes resist.
When cities install parking-protected bike lanes, motorists and residents sometimes resist. Bikemore

At first, cycling advocates in Baltimore were ecstatic. After many years of lagging well behind other towns, in recent months the Maryland city made big strides to grow its bicycle infrastructure: It debuted a bike share program, a trio of protected cycle tracks, and a larger network of 122 miles of bike lanes by the end of 2016.

Then things got ugly. Residents living near the cycle tracks pushed back, raising questions over lost parking spaces and whether driving lanes were being narrowed at the expense of cars. This spring, opposition quickly grew around a track being constructed on a half-mile, eight-block stretch of Potomac Street, a narrow residential street in Canton, a waterfront neighborhood of tidy renovated rowhouses. The city’s new mayor, Catherine Pugh, announced that the bike lane would be ripped out, triggering a two-month legal battle.

That struggle ended in June with what appears to be a first in bike-infrastructure advocacy lore: A judge issued a restraining order to halt the demolition of the protected bike lane.