Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fells Point DuClaw DeClawed

(photo credit, The Baltimore Sun)

Word on the street is that the Fells Point DuClaw is closing after tonight. I saw in Sam Sessa's blog earlier today, and that was confirmed by Elizabeth Large and BeerInBaltimore. I guess I am a little surprised, I did enjoy going out there when I lived in Fells Point. While the service wasn't the best, it was nice to have a few beers out on the porch in nice weather. It was off the street, and you have a nice view of the harbor.

Apparently business wasn't so hot in the winter season, how I have no idea, but anyways they did. This complicated with lease disagreements has caused this location to close up shop. The other four locations in the burbs will not be affected. There aren't many brew pubs in the city, and it's a shame to see this one go. Ideally it would be nice if another one opened up in town.

Now with DuClaw gone, and in this type of economy, we get to look forward to months and months of a large, empty space in Fells Point! So, if you loved DuClaw, or atleast tolerated it, head on down tonight for a pint or two, because tomorrow they'll be no mas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bus Lanes are Only Effective if Properly Enforced

Over the past few weeks the Traffic Division has been busily painting the new Bus Lanes on Pratt St. Starting on the 17th the city placed Variable Message Signs up alerting drivers that the lanes would go into effect on December 28th.

Yesterday, being the 28th, I took a walk down to Pratt St after work during the evening rush to see how things were going with the new bus lanes. What I saw brought me to the conclusion that "bus lanes are only effective if properly enforced". I stopped along Pratt at Commerce for a few minutes and watched as about two dozen cars zoomed along the bus lanes as if nothing had ever changed. Apparently they were oblivious to the new solid white lines, Bus Lane pavement markers, and Bus/Bike/Right Turn only signs. I would have to say that some of the culprits were taxi drivers, but most were everyday drivers not paying attention. (Thankfully, the bikers were being smart and stayed in the protected bike lane on the inside of the orange barrier.)

Suprisingly, I didn't see any Police or Traffic Officers writing tickets! Generally speaking, if you want to get the word out, the lanes need to be enforced. Unfortunately, I just don't see this happening in Baltimore. Maybe things were different in the AM rush, maybe, but I only saw what was going on in the PM.

Suggestion to the City: if you want some turn around on your investment, first of all get the cars out of the Bus Lanes. Secondly, consider painting the lanes another color like many other cities

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Baltimore!

Wishing Everyone a Merry Christmas!
Many Hopes to a Wonderful Day!
Baltimore Skyline will be returning to its regular posting after the long weekend with its usual vigor! There are only six days left in 2009, that's plenty of time to do a recap of the year and a look forward to Baltimore in 2010. Until then, enjoy the time off if you have it!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Baltimore Blizzard Update

Here are some photos I took while walking around downtown late this afternoon during the Blizzard. It was really quiet out on the streets other than the occasional car or snow plow passing by. Almost every store and restaurant was closed, even the 24-Hour Subway on Calvert, with a few exceptions. The Nest on Pratt was still open, so was the Cheesecake Factory at the Inner Harbor. I guess they figured they would get 100% of the hungry tourists.

The Light Rail was still running during the peak of the storm, and there were some brave folks huddling at the Convention Center stop waiting for a northbound train. They told me they had been waiting for a little while, as no northbound trains had come. They were on their way back to Mount Washington, and eventually one came.

There were a decent amount of people taking in the winter wonders. It isn’t frequent that you can be downtown on a Saturday and have the sidewalk to yourself, or even walk down the middle of the street!

The snow plows are out now, and the snow is tapering off. I can expect things to be pretty much back to normal tomorrow. Hope everyone enjoyed the pre-Christmas snowy weather. This apparently is the most snow Baltimore has seen in December in a long, long time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Weather is Coming

Brace yourself folks, the white squall is upon us. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect with snow beginning after 10pm tonight, becoming heavy overnight, and continuing through tomorrow. The Weather Channel is calling for anywhere between 10 and 20 inches of the white stuff.

Whatever the total snow fall will be one thing is for certain, Baltimore will be a mess tomorrow! We all know what happens here when it rains too hard, imagine with this much snow! I doubt the snow will be dumped in the harbor like the city did in 2003 blizzard, but anything is possible.

Let me know how you fair out there this weekend. I'll be sure to be out with the camera tomorrow as the storm comes through. Here's to the first storm of this season!

2009 Baltimore Christmas Wish List

(flickr photo, jayunsplanet)

As Christmas is fast approaching, Santa Claus is busily preparing his list of presents and goodies to give out on December 25th. Here at BaltimoreSkyline, I'm putting together my own Baltimore Christmas Wish List for all the gifts we would all like to have this year.

Charm City Circulator - This one we might actually get this Christmas, thanks Santa! The Bus Only lanes are getting painted on Pratt Street with Lombard Street soon to follow. The lanes go into effect on December 28th, and the Orange Route of the CCC starts January 11th (the Green and Purple Route will be in the Spring).

More Forward Movement on the Red Line - 2010 could be the big year for the Red Line. Advanced planning and engineering may start, and funding could be granted. The city has revamped their website, already, and the MTA' site will be shortly.

 Charles Street Trolley - Sure there has been a lot of hoopla on this issue, but it's still on my Christmas Wish List. Baltimore needs better, fixed intercity mass transit, and this is a good start. A fixed connection along our North-South Corridor will create better connectivity with current and future transit, businesses, museums, and schools. I say build it!

More Downtown Retail - Bing sang about dreaming of a White Christmas, I'm dreaming about decent shopping downtown. The downtown residential population is growing, and we don't want to truck out to Towson, White Marsh, or Columbia to do all of our shopping, we want places downtown that we can go that aren't Subway, 7-Eleven, or CVS.

Continued Development on Howard Street - A lot of good things have started along Howard (and Eutaw for that matter). Here's to continued success with the Westside Development. Howard St can return to its formar glory with some time, effort, politicians with guts, and $$$.

A Competitive Orioles Team - Dear Santa, please bring Baltimore a competitive team in the American League East this Christmas. There is still time in the Winter Meetings for Angelos to pick up somebody. Please put them on your good list this Christmas.

Bike Lanes - Sharrows are only as good as the temperment of the car drivers. I'm wishing for some dedicated bike lanes in the downtown area in the near future. Maybe Santa will bring copies of bike lane plans that Philadelphia, Washington, and New York have made for the city planners as light reading material.

MTA Charm Card - The trial period was apparently a success for the Metro Subway, so much so that they decided that the MTA needed to do further study for the Light Rail and Bus before rolling the Charm Card out full time. Here's wishing to smart cards in 2010 (only a short 4 years after the TVMs and Fare Gates were put in).

From Baltimore Skyline to you, Happy Holidays and a have Wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally, a Detailed Website

There you go folks. The full details of the charm city circulator. Route maps, stops, and schedules. Tentative opening for the Orange Route will be January 11th.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fire Company Update

The city changed its mind today and decided only to close one station, Truck 16. Instead of closing all three, the city will add 4 companies to the rotating closure list.  Apparently, there was enough of an outcry from the public and the BCFD to encourage a compromise.

Good work people.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Closing Firehouses Not the Answer

A recent plan from City Hall would have three BCFD fire companies close after the New Year. Engine 14, Truck 15, and Truck 16 would be closed after January 1st if the city has its way. The firefighters from those companies would be assigned to other houses. This year, in an attempt to curb overtime costs, the BCFD has rotated closings where certain fire companies would be closed on certain days of the week. These three companies are currently a part of that rotation.

Engine 14 is one of the oldest companies in the Baltimore Fire Service, having opened in 1888 at Hollins St. in West Baltimore. The station house is the original building, and according to the Baltimore Sun, is one of the oldest fire houses on the East Coast. With Engine 14 closing, the station house will remain for storage, which will most assuredly mean its deterioration. The company’s first response was on July 15, 1888, and after 121 years will make its last in 2010.

The consequence of closed stations is reduced service and longer response times. Recently, when Banners Bar in Locust Point caught fire, (coincidently a bar owned by firefighters), the local fire company Engine 26 on Fort Ave was closed on rotation, and the back-up was already out on a call, so it took a while for the engines to finally arrive.

There needs to be a better solution to this problem. The city cannot just close Fire companies because of budget; a policy like this can be a risk to public safety and fire fighters lives. The Baltimore Sun article did bring up the idea of having volunteers as auxiliary firefighters. Interestingly enough, when you look at Engine 14’s original roster they had 5 permanent fire fighters, and 6 at call members (part-timers). Not a bad idea right?