Promenade Bicycle Access Pilot Project

Project Background

Today, bicycle access on the promenade and Inner Harbor is limited for most of the day. There is conflicting signage along the promenade an Inner Harbor that allows biking from 6am to 10am, Monday through Saturday and 6am to 11am on Sundays as well as signage that restricts bike riding all together. Portions of the Gwynns Falls and Jones Falls Trail also lie adjacent to Pratt Street, Light Street and Key Highway around the Inner Harbor. While these trails allows for unlimited bicycling access, there are often pedestrian and bicycle conflicts on the trail. 

In 2013, a study was conducted by Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT) in conjunction with the Waterfront Partnership to evaluate the feasibility of allowing bicycles to ride on the promenade. The evaluation determined that with minor improvements, bicycles could access the promenade safely. 

BCDOT continued to evaluate an implementation strategy to allow bicycles to safely use the promenade by coordinating with Waterfront Partnership, the Community, the Inner Harbor Bicycle Police Unit and the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission to develop a one-year pilot project that would allow people to ride bikes on the promenade, slowly. The Rules and Regulations of the Department of Recreation and Parks (2013) state that “Bicycles, skates or skateboards may be in a user’s possession on the Waterfront Promenade but may not otherwise be used on the Promenade unless expressly approved by the Director,” along the Waterfront Promenade. This is interpreted to mean that bicycle access can be allowed with the approval of the Director of Recreation and Parks and the implementation of supporting signage. The pilot project will provide people on bicycles to access the promenade with minor capital improvements and sets out a process by which over the one-year pilot the project can be monitored, the community can be engaged and additional necessary improvements can be assessed. 

The Pilot Project intends to remove existing restriction signage and replace the signage with more consistent signage across the promenade. The proposed signage is intended to simplify the rules and regulations for biking to the following:

  1. Restrict bicycling on the promenade within the Inner Harbor Park, as defined in the Park Regulations as the section of promenade from Rash Fields to the World Trade Center. The signage change would include removing conflicting signs, as identified in the plan, and replace with signs that would direct people on bikes to use the adjacent trails.
  2. Implement signage along the Gwynns Falls and Jones Falls Trails that encourages pedestrians to stay to one side of the trail (closest to the Inner Harbor) and bicyclist to stay on the other side of the trail.  This treatment has been used successfully around the world to help reduce pedestrian and bicycle conflicts on multi use paths.
  3. Allow bicycling at slow speeds along the Promenade east of the Inner Harbor Park and South of Rash Field. This also includes signage that encourages bicycles to yield to pedestrians.

The map below provides a high level summary of the signage changes that will be implemented. 

Promenade Bicycle Access Pilot Project map 
Figure: Map of proposed signage improvements to the promenade

The Benefits:

Since the promenade was built, biking has grown as an important part of urban transportation and recreation landscape. Additionally, Baltimore’s Bike Share system is scheduled to launch this Fall, making the Promenade a prime place for bike share users to access businesses and residents along the Promenade. Research from other cities have shown bike share stations increase patronage of local businesses up to 19 percent and have increased surrounding property values up to 2.5 percent. Bike share and biking are important factors in the growth and promotion of the Promenade. 

Give us your thoughts:

The project will be in effect on September 27, 2016. The BCDOT will be collecting public comments and engaging with the community as the project is monitored and evaluated over the next 12 months. Please submit a comment here for our project team, or call the office at 410-396-8139. Thank you for your input in this important effort!