Creating a Trail Network in Baltimore

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RTC has been working with partners to create a world class, game-changing urban trail network in the city of Baltimore. The project will connect three existing Baltimore City trails that, when completely linked, will create a 35-mile loop connecting the city’s diverse neighborhoods with the downtown core. Only 10 additional miles are needed to close critical gaps that would create this powerful interconnected trail network within Baltimore City.

When complete, this trail network will connect the city’s anchor institutions and destinations, including universities, hospitals, museums, parks, schools, waterfronts and employment centers with the communities they serve. The coalition will build on and support already emerging initiatives in the city, including Parks & People’s One Park Concept, Baltimore City’s Growing Green Initiative, the updated Baltimore City Bicycle Master Plan, the Open Space and Parks Task Force, and a revitalized master plan for the Middle Branch.

In late 2015, RTC—in partnership with Bikemore, APA Maryland Chapter and Citizens Planning and Housing Association—secured a grant from Plan4Health, an American Planning Association (APA) project, for the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition. The grant will help strengthen the capacity of the fledgling network and support grassroots outreach in underserved neighborhoods—particularly where there is a significant lack of trail and active-transportation infrastructure—to mobilize efforts in support of healthy active living. The Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition is working with residents to address barriers that prevent people from safely accessing parks, trails and community events.


33rd Street Trail Alternatives


The Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition is currently working on preliminary designs for a trail along E. 33rd Street to connect Lake Montebello, Charles Village and the neighborhoods in between. This critical gap between the Jones Falls Trail and Herring Run Trail will support historic and contemporary planning initiatives for the city. Historically the 33rd Street boulevard was designed by the Olmsted Brothers as a multi-use, shared connecting parkway between the large parks to the east and west. Today the 33rd street corridor is being looked at by the Department of Transportation as a location for improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities. It is additionally being considered as a community connecting corridor in the City's Green Network Plan. Our work is supportive of these significant contemporary and historical approaches to planning. With our partners, two alternatives are being explored to complete this connection: a trail along the 40-foot-wide center median, and a cycletrack along the westbound lanes of traffic.

Please share your thoughts with the design team! Review the below options and send an email with your questions and feedback to Jim Brown at jim@railstotrails.org. A follow-up public meeting will be held on April 25, 2017 at the 29th Street Community Center at 6:00 p.m. At this meeting, the design team will discuss the public feedback received and how it was incorporated into the preliminary design. The preliminary design, will then be used to apply for funding to complete final project design, where there will be additional opportunities to provide comment before the project is constructed.

Shared Use Path Option

The Shared Use Path Option utilizes the wide median strip that runs down the middle of E. 33rd Street. A 12-foot trail would be constructed down the center of the median, leaving the existing trees and creating space for new landscaping and street furniture. The median strip leverages the existing curbs and trees to act as a natural buffer that protects trail users from moving traffic.

Opportunities
  • Create a physically-separated trail that will attract the most users
  • Provide a safe and accessible way to access existing and new neighborhood greenspace
  • Accommodate people walking and biking
  • Use existing right-of-way without removing space for vehicles
  • A modern extension of Historic Olmsted vision for parkways
  • Increase landscaping and stormwater treatment opportunities
  • Traffic calming measures to slow vehicle traffic and maintain safe speeds
  • No changes to bus stop access
Constraints
  • Need to engineer safe intersection crossings

Cycletrack Option

The Cycletrack Option builds a two-way protected bike lane on the westbound lanes of E. 33rd Street. On-street parking and one lane of traffic are removed for the cycletrack, narrowing the westbound corridor to one lane of traffic. Protection is provided to people bicycling in the cycletrack through a new curb to be built. No new space is provided for people to walk, who can continue to use the existing sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Opportunities
  • Create a physically-separated bikeway
  • Repurpose existing paved right-of-way
Constraints
  • Only accommodate people on bicycles
  • Will not enhance greenspace in median strips or increase community access to these green spaces
  • Bus stops will be difficult to access, no clear solution to this problem
  • Remove road width for vehicles, potential congestion
  • Permanently remove parking on north side of street

Crosswalk Demonstration Celebration


In the greater Mondawmin neighborhood of Baltimore, a major intersection and divided highway make it nearly impossible for people to cross the street safely, essentially isolating them from Druid Hill Park and all it has to offer. On September 28, 2016, the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network partnered with public artist Graham Coreil-Allen to create a demonstration crosswalk to show how creating a safe street crossing for pedestrians and cyclists can make it easier for residents to get to Druid Hill Park. Check out event photos.

Plan4Health Partners

- Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
- Bikemore
- Parks & People Foundation
- Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks
- Baltimore City Department of Planning
- Baltimore City Health Department
- Central Maryland Transportation Alliance