When a renter signs their lease for an apartment in the Federal Hill district this July, they will get a bike from Wheelhouse Apartments. The owner of a 28 unit community on South Charles street hopes to encourage more carless renters to live here.
Scott Slosson said, “We hope to take a step further than providing a bike room.” Everyone gets a bike in an aim to remove another barrier for people are considering a bike.
Around the country, developers like 28 Walker have decided it’s good business to build close to bike lanes and trails, as well as public transit. Their buildings often offer places to store, fix and wash bicycles as amenities beyond a pool, pool table — or parking space.
Developers and other businesses are starting to join cyclists and advocates in calling on Baltimore to complete its master plan for a bike-pedestrian network. They say delays likely have to do with money, logistics and an entrenched car culture that produces a “bike-lash” when precious asphalt and concrete is diverted from roads and sidewalks for a relatively small constituency that seems dominated by more well-to-do residents.
Still, developers say the movement is likely to accelerate because many younger professionals don’t want to drive to work, and see walkability as a key reason to live and work in a city.
Kate Drabinski, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County professor who has commuted by bike for a decade, said she’s already noticed an uptick in riders on Baltimore’s streets since the city began adding protected lanes in recent years. Every morning, the 43-year-old Charles Village resident rides about three miles to the University of Maryland Medical Center downtown where she locks her bike and catches a shuttle to her office.
Despite road hazards, angry drivers and gaps in the lane network, she views riding as a joy and expects people moving into Wheelhouse will feel the same way. She thought the idea of living among other cyclists sounded appealing.
“My bike makes me feel free,” said Drabinksi, who also rides to the gym in Harbor East, doctor appointments at Johns Hopkins Hospital and most everywhere else because she rarely drives. “I wish everyone could have the feeling.”
Developers want tenants like Drabinski because it eventually could mean they don’t have to build expensive, space-consuming parking decks. And city life, and their projects, become more appealing.
Developers like 28 Walker and Slosson could lead the way with projects like Wheelhouse. Slossonsaid a bike-friendly building wasn’t a stretch for him. He commuted for years by bike from his home in Canton to 28 Walker’s Locust Point offices. See more at: Baltimore Sun