Friday, August 5, 2016

Pop-Up Urbanism: The 26 day cycle track on Pratt

Pop-up is all the rage. Think Park-(ing) Day, the one day pop-up installations of parking spaces into parklets.

The Department of Transportation in Baltimore finally has gotten into the act as well and opened a three block pop-up cycle-track on East Pratt Street between Central Avenue and Broadway.

Bikemore explains the project this way:
Pilot projects, such as pop-up protected bike lanes, are becoming increasingly popular in cities. These projects allow agencies to engage with the public--testing what works and what doesn't in an affordable manner before substantial capital investments are made. The conventional project development process proceeds from plan to capital construction over a number of years, while pilot projects only take a few weeks to organize and construct. These projects help communities try new treatments, re-envisioning what their streets and communities can look like without the commitment of a capital project.
As a member of Transit Choices I have suggested for some time to install proposed alterations to Baltimore's streets in this temporary cost saving fashion in order to test effects, get public feedback and see how things work without protracted expensive consultant studies and hard to reverse final construction.

City DOT projects of all kinds are delayed and bogged down by overblown analysis-paralysis from the eternally delayed Maryland Avenue bike corridor to the Mount Royal streetscape, the St Paul and Calvert Street one-way conversion to the closure of the dogleg at Light and Pratt Streets.

In any of those cases a pop-up temporary installation could have taken out years of costly studies on paper and provided valuable insights in real time before final construction is performed.

The short undertaking at Pratt Street is a welcome breeze of fresh air coming out of City DOT, although I really don't know what remains to be investigated or tested in this particular stretch where the pop-up is installed and what DOT expects to gain from the experiment there.

Pop up installations are the most useful when they present a shortcut in a situation where design needs to to be fine-tuned or corrected via field observations. The stretch on Pratt between Central Avenue and Broadway hardly presents any real difficulties that need to be tested out.

Below some impressions from the bikeway which will remain open until August 26. I wonder what will happen after August. Typically a temporary installation should become permanent once it passed the test.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

A bike-box at Pratt and Broadway is part of the installation. It allows a bicyclist to pull
across lanes when the signal is red, for example if one wants to go south on Broadway

While Pratt is one-way eastbound for vehicles, the cycle track is two-way and can be used westbound.
Separation from traffic via two white lines, flex posts and little flowerpots (cute!)

A lone rider trying out the new temporary facility

Two way tracks on the left side of a one way street present a few conflict points that need
to be marked

Pratt in that stretch isn't exactly a scenic ride, not clear how this small sample will fit into the bigger network

Bikemore's graphic for the cycle track.