Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Trolley Lane is all clear - for cab drivers

So now that the tour buses have been run off from in front of the ESPN Zone, the cabs are back using it as an illegal cab stand. When they saw me whip out the camera, they hustled off.

The same security guard who told me a pile of lies last week about how buses were allowed to park here came over to talk to me, but he didn't have much to say beyone "enjoy your ride."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday's ride down the trolley lane - my bike vs. Wait, where'd they go?

What a happy day. I rode through the Inner Harbor about 7:00, down a completely clear, open, unobtructed trolley lane.

This was great.

I drove through Sunday and noticed a complete lack of illegally parked tour buses and taxicabs then too. Both days there was a visible police presence with an officer in the little baby SUV they use to drive around the Inner Harbor.

No pictures, it was dark out then.

I'm starting to think nice things about the bikehon list and the mayor's office.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bike Ride Report - DC Randonneurs MD 200k Brevet

Big 200k brevet yesterday! It wasn't flat!

It took me 11:02. My GPS said 9700 feet of climb, but that's probably high. It was more like 7900 feet according to everyone else.

The start was at a church parking lot in Hyattstown, MD. There is nobody else in the picture due to the fact that I am 10 minutes late getting on the road as usual.

The first control was at the volunteer fire department in Rocky Ridge, MD. See the motley bunch of randonneurs loitering out front.

Next comes the quaint town of Thurmont. Which fills all cyclists with dread, because the long, long climb over the Catoctin ridge is imminent.

After you blast down the other side, you get to Smithsburg. This picture is right outside. It's rolling hills like this for about 20 miles to State Line, PA. There was a stiff, cold headwind for this leg, which is all farms and no trees to block it. I gained a bit on all the folks riding upright bikes.

Here is the view from the Secret Control, in Antietam National Battlefield. It's not every day you see a bitchin' M3 with a bike on top.

This was about mile 70. I'd eaten two bananas and two Gatorades at this point, and the fuel reserves were getting low. There were two big climbs coming up, one to Gapland, and one to Mountville.

Just five miles farther the fuel problem was solved. It's the secret weapon. The lifesaver which allows brevets to be completed with strength in comfort. Sheetz Macaroni and Cheese. Yum. Hot and delicious in Williamsport.

Here is the big monument to Civil War newspaper reports in Gapland. This is at the top of the big steep climb. I've never climbed it from the west, so the whole time I thought I was lost and I couldn't figure out where I was. When you go the other way, it goes by so fast you don't see anything.

I got in at 6:00, with plenty of light left, feeling good.

Here's the map, with the track recorded by the GPS. Click to enlarge

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tour Buses vs. my bike in the Inner Harbor II - Quick's Transportation, Fredericksburg, VA

I was riding home tonight, March 22. I passed through the Inner Harbor around 7:00 pm. There were *SIX* count'em *SIX* tour buses illegally parked in front of the ESPN Zone.

They were all together. They were loading up a couple hundred little kids. But the signs say NO STOPPING, they don't say "Bus Loading Zone". And they prevent me from using the public right of way.

The guy in the gray coat with the eyes of the Devil appeared to be in charge. He confronted my when I started taking pictures. He wanted to know why "I was such an asshole." Well, I'm not the one illegally parking six tour buses in a no stopping zone. I'm the guy prevented from using the only safe and legal way to ride a bike across downtown Baltimore.

Here are a couple drivers. The one who wouldn't let me take her picture said if I didn't put the camera away, she would take it and a bunch of them would beat the crap out of me. I don't hold it against her for not letting me take her picture. I found her quite unattractive.

The guilty organization appears to be Quick's Transportation, Fredericksburg, VA, phone 1-888-373-1357.

Here are what pictures I could get of the registration information on the buses. I only got four of six. When they saw me photographing this info, the hurried up and left.

ESPN Zone Response - It Wasn't Us

Here is the response I got to my e-mail complaining about the security guards in front of their building:

Dear Mr. [Drew]:

First of all, let me apologize for your unpleasant experience on March 17th.

I would like you to know that ESPN Zone does not employ security guards from Inner Harbor Security. The security personnel you encountered are employed by the Cordish Company, developers of the Power Plant, Power Plant Live and other concepts in Baltimore and around the country. The headquarters for the Power Plant is at 601 E Pratt Street, in the Power Plant Building. Their security guards patrol the Power Plant, the front promenade, as well as the side and back of the building.

Furthermore, when ESPN Zone utilizes the trolley lane for television broadcast trucks, etc., we have to work with the Baltimore City office of Permits in order to secure a permit to block this area. We did not have a special event on March 17th to warrant anyone parking in that lane, so the bus you mentioned in your email was not part of special parking arranged by ESPN Zone.

Scott Hutchison
General Manager
ESPNZone - Baltimore
[phone number removed]


Fair enough.

I will have to get after Cordish. I haven't seen any security guards there since I sent my original e-mail, however.

Tour Buses vs. my bike in the Inner Harbor I - Paradise Vacations

I've decided to always carry my camera with me while bike riding to document the ridiculous situation with the Trolley Lane along Pratt Street.

I rode in to work on Saturday afternoon, March 18. I passed through the Inner Harbor about 3:00 PM. Sure enough, there was an illegally parked tour bus blocking the way.

Here is the NO STOPPING sign in front of the bus, along with a sign making it clear I'm not supposed to be riding on the sidewalk in front of the ESPN Zone.

Here is the tour bus driver. He looks nice now, but he later came out of the bus and tried to pick a fight.

Here is a sign in the bus window.

Here is the sign on the side of the bus saying who is the operator.

And here is the NO STOPPING sign right behind the bus.

No security guards were involved in this episode.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

ESPN Zone vs. Bicyclists - my letter

Baltimore EspnZone Security Guards Help Obstruct the Way for Bicyclists

I was bicycling home from work yesterday evening, Friday March 17th 2006. At approximately 6:15, I was travelling eastbound on the bike/trolley lane on Pratt Street in front of the ESPN Zone.

There was a commercial tour bus parked in the bike lane completely blocking it. The tour bus was parked directly in front of a sign saying "NO STOPPING CARS TOWED AWAY".

I identified the driver of the tour bus. While I was having a discussion with the tour bus driver in a futile attempt to get him to move the bus, we were approached by two security guards from ESPNZone. The guards were dressed exactly like Baltimore City police. They were wearing dark blue uniforms and bronze badges. Except the uniforms said "Inner Harbor Security" and the badges said "Security Guard".

The guards treated me as the person causing a problem, rather than the illegally parked tour bus. They told me the following:

1. If I call the police about this, the police will arrest me for "creating a disturbance", and not do anything about the bus.
2. The bus has a permit to park here. (I immediately asked the bus driver to produce such a permit. He changed the subject.)
3. While there is an obvious sign saying "NO STOPPING CARS TOWED AWAY", there is a different sign farther down the block that says bus unloading zone, and that's the sign that applies. (There is a pull-off area where the guard said this sign was, so that buses could unload without blocking the bike lane. I did not confirm whether there is a sign there or not.)
4. "His employer" owns the bike lane and the sidewalk, and buses are allowed to park there.

Each of these statements are lies.

My assumption is that the security guards is poorly trained as to his duties and the limits of his authority. His actions give the appearance that the ESPN Zone is making an attempt to reserve the public roadway for their private use, by what amounts to using security guards as hired goons to spread misinformation about the public's right to use the public right-of-way, and to intimidate people who raise an objection.

I find it hard to believe that a responsible business would engage in such practices. One would think that in such a situation as I experienced the security guards would attempt to have the vehicle obstructing traffic moved, and to contact the proper authorities if the driver refused.

I would like the operators of the ESPN Zone Baltimore to provide me a copy of the policies for the security guards detailing their duties and responsibiliites.

I furthermore would like the operators of the ESPN Zone Baltimore to describe to me the actions they have taken to educate their security guards so that incidents like this do not happen in the future.

Thank you,

Drew (last name, address, and e-mail removed for blog)