Baltimore resident Brian Seel shared the following thread about his commute through “Transit Oriented Development” in Maryland on Twitter. It was enlightening, so we're sharing a lightly edited version here.
I live in Baltimore, work in the county, and don't have a car. People ask “How on earth do you do that commute without a car??” I normally just say that it's a combination of running and taking the train for simplicity.
But the story is so much more than that. Let me take you on my daily commute.
First, I jog from Upper Fells to the Camden Station Marc. It's a nice jog through Perkins, Little Italy, the Inner Harbor, and down Pratt Street. I hop on the train and enjoy about 18 minutes of internet time.
I get to Dorsey in Hanover, where I am usually the only one disembarking.
Dorsey is a Transit Oriented Development (TOD). A couple weeks ago, the Sun had an article about how Maryland is trying to take advantage of areas around transit to develop.
Technically, what I am about to describe is my commute through a TOD.
I walk to the end of the platform and down a hill toward the road. There used to be a handrail here, but it rotted out. There were never steps here, so after it rains, it gets really slippery. You also have to be careful, as the road is right at the bottom, so watch for traffic.
I keep going about a quarter mile up the road. It switches from pavement to dirt along the way, so I have to watch for puddles when it's dark. Sometimes I see rabbits running across the path. I have seen deer tracks, but never seen a deer.
It's serenely quiet.
This is the first part of the Transit Oriented Development I see. There is a five-story parking garage that is 100 feet from the train tracks.
I have questions about their commitment to transit over personally owned vehicles.
When I see the parking garage, I turn to the right to enter the Transit Oriented Development. This is the only entrance from the train station, as they put up fences around the whole thing last winter. They used to leave a gate open, but not anymore.
I climb over the short part.
One day, this will be a development according to the TOD plan. But for the last 2.5 years its been a field. When it rains, it becomes a swamp, but I have gotten good at knowing where the swampy parts are, and dodging them.
Today it was dry.
After getting wet one too many times, I decided to start using this ridge as my walkway. The weeds are thicker, but I have worn a path by walking through it regularly. I do have to navigate the gaps in the ridge where the storm water flows to the holding pond.
This part of the field doesn't have a ridge, and has pretty thick weeds. I once got a tick walking through here, so I wear long pants all year now. Fortunately, the security guy in my office had tweezers and knew how to remove a tick. I would have watched Youtube videos.
They put another set of fences up on the other end of the field, so I have to walk around to the far side, and climb another fence. This one is fairly easy to climb, and then I get to the path! I hope this will be extended some time soon.
This is where I can start running again.
This is what Transit Oriented Development looks like. Each house has a two-car garage. There is ample street parking. AND there is a parking lot just across the street from this. And that doesn't include the parking garage.
Notice how wide these 'residential' roads are.
…because they get wider. The entrance to this small development has a five-lane road. Oh… but it has a bike lane that connects to nothing! But people sometimes park in it… because there isn't enough parking?
There is a crosswalk here, but cars don't stop. Don't cross.
I have now navigated the Transit Oriented Development. I run along the five lane road to exit the development, and approach… another five lane road.
There is a crossing signal… but only going one direction. If you want to cross Coca Cola Rd… you are going to have to play some frogger.
Notice how curved that corner is? Yeah, cars can take that curve at 45 mph… no problem. #dangerousbydesign
Ok… there is no sidewalk… so edge up on that curb to see if traffic is coming. Gonna need to get closer than that. That is a wiiiiiide curve.
There you go! Ok… now… watch for an opening from that direction. But also remember to watch for cars coming from the other direction. Oh, and cars can still come from behind you.. and from in front of you.
Good luck! Run fast. There is no marked crosswalk.
Oh… wait… more traffic. Hang on.
Ok.. you made it. Look back with satisfaction. Cars can't beat you. At least not today.
Just remember, your suburban coworkers look at you with fear because you say that you live in Baltimore and they assume the biggest danger is being shot. Psha…
After beating that boss… it's Easy Street! Sidewalks! No fences! No cars directly trying to kill you. Relax.
Well… watch for branches. They don't trim these trees because they didn't assume anyone would walk along here. There is no sidewalk on the other side, so roll with it.
HA! You didn't expect Easy Street to last? We are not going to pamper you here. The sidewalk ends, but there is a sidewalk on the other side. Just run across four lanes of traffic and you are on Easy Street again! And its not even an intersection.
Suck it up buttercup.
But after you cross, watch out for this 'driveway.' Sure, it's only two lanes, but it's wide enough to be a six lane interstate and people pull into it like it's an interstate. So… keep your head on a swivel kid!
Fortunately, there are no bus lanes there. Or sidewalks. If there were, they would block them. They go to Baltimore for that. Maybe they don't know about these:
Also, our friends at @belairproduce and @USFoods are again illegally parked in the bus lane on St Paul Place between Saratoga and Lexington. Three bunched up buses were having a tough time navigating the traffic with the illegal parking. #baltiXmore pic.twitter.com/dofQZgzwJt— Melvin Blickenstaff (@bilcksneatff) February 21, 2018
Our friend from @belairproduce is back after a brief absence. Truck 209058. Also, newcomers @ProFishSeafood here as well. Truck 517076. Both illegally parked in the bus lane on St Paul Place between Saratoga and Lexington. #baltiXmore pic.twitter.com/x7s3oaNDWJ— Melvin Blickenstaff (@bilcksneatff) March 22, 2018
Maybe I just needed to tell them…
No time to think about bus lanes. I have to navigate this intersection. No signals. And it's offset, so people have no idea to look for pedestrians. But it has a stop sign, so make eye contact. And it's double lanes only. This is easy!
Bad news… your single sidewalk didn't make it across the road. So time to take the road again. The good news is that the road is wide. The bad news is that cars sometimes park here, and traffic drives fast.
So… head on a swivel son. Look alive. You are almost there.
At last, I get to work. There is a shower, which helps enable this commute.
While I have been doing a multimodal commute for almost four years, I have been doing this one for two. It may be ridiculous, but I still love it and I wouldn't commute any other way.
Some people asked why I put up with this commute. An excellent example is today: a light snow came through which is snarling most of the highways and making people miserable.
However, I get a winter wonderland.