Annapolis business owners unhappy with new temporary bike lanes on Main Street

If you are planning on taking a trip to Annapolis soon, you should know that parking has gotten more difficult.

The city has installed temporary bike lanes on some of its historic streets in downtown. However, these new lanes are gobbling up valuable parking spots. Now, some businesses say enough is enough.

The four-foot space for the bike lanes used to be some of the most valuable parking spots in Annapolis as they were right in front of shops and restaurants. But after the city spent $100,000 to attract more cyclists through town, some business owners say this will hurt their bottom line.

"It's harmful to the business, it's harmful to our historic streets and the look of the town is going to change," said Cynthia McBride, the owner of an art gallery on Main Street.

She said business at her gallery is already suffering after the temporary bike lanes went up on one side of Main Street in downtown Annapolis this week.

The city removed 36 parking spots to try out a new protected bike lane for one month. It will allow cyclists to ride downhill on this busy, narrow one-way street against traffic.

"The new mayor is a big bike advocate and wants to extend the bike paths throughout Annapolis and this is an important street that we think would be really great to have bikers on it," said Annapolis Public Works director David Jerrell. "Change is difficult so people are having a hard time accepting it right now. We are hoping that once it's in place, that people will see the benefits of it and be more accepting. But right now it's pretty negative."

"We think it makes a beautiful city like Annapolis an even more attractive place to visit, live and work, and you can see it happening nationally," said bicycle advocate Jon Korin.

"My reaction is people come to Annapolis because they like the Annapolis culture and feel this historic town as it is right now," said McBride. "Main Street is the busiest street in Annapolis and it's a historic street, and it was very disconcerting over the last couple of days to watch workmen hammering spikes into our brick street."

The mayor is hoping now that once the lanes are in, people will send his office their feedback. But McBride worries whether she speaks up or not, the bike lanes are here to stay.

"He's unfortunately found a way to do it without any public hearings by calling it as a test," McBride said.

If the bike lanes are approved, the results of project will be incorporated into the redesign and rebricking of Main Street that will take place in 2020.

For now, the city recommends parking in one of their garages or at Annapolis Elementary School, which is about a quarter-mile away.