Remembering Aaron Laciny

Bikemore exists to create the type of policy change that ensures that all people can move about this city safely. Be it on foot, by bike or on transit — mobility connects us to opportunity. When it is difficult or unsafe to travel, we limit people’s capacity to lead healthy, productive lives and cause actual harm to our citizens. And while things are changing, this week it feels like they aren’t changing fast enough.

Nothing brings the immediacy of our work into focus than when someone is killed while riding their bike. This week the world lost Aaron Laciny in a tragedy that illustrates the level of callousness and disregard people riding bikes receive. Aaron was a beloved son and brother to his five siblings. He was a celebrated colleague, classmate and friend. He loved the outdoors, and was a brilliant mind just beginning his career in science and mathematics.

As advocates, during these particularly difficult times it is our job to ensure the family of those injured or killed have the resources they need to process what is often an inexplicable loss. We are in contact with Aaron’s family, and are discussing what is going to be the best way for the bicycling community to memorialize his life. We are following their lead, respecting their privacy and need to grieve, and will be sure to update folks as to the best way they can honor Aaron’s life.

In the meantime, Aaron’s family has made an incredibly generous gesture, asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Bikemore in Aaron’s name. We will be maintaining a memorial page to him on our website at the family’s request. We are humbled by their generosity, and even further resolved in our advocacy. You can view it here.

These tragic events impact all of us who ride. They are a stark reminder that there are people who move through the world with disregard for human life. So take care of yourself, and others. Leave time to grieve and process, but most importantly, enjoy all life has to offer. For many of us, that includes riding bikes in the city we love.

Bike to Market Tip #2: Riding to Druid Hill Park

Our second Bike to Market Day is on Wednesday! And there's tons going on at Druid Hill Park that evening — including live music, guided bike rides, yoga and a movie — so grab your bike lights, your basket and make a night out of it! 

Bike to Market Day at Druid Hill Farmers Market
Wednesday, June 21

3:30pm to 7:30pm
Druid Hill Park
3100 Swann Drive, Baltimore (next to the Conservatory) 

Bike to Market is a partnership with the Maryland Farmer's Market Association, encouraging you to ride to a variety of markets, and mixing two important aspects of a thriving sustainable city: sustainable transportation and local fresh food. 

At the market we'll provide free bike valet so you can safely and easily leave your bike while you shop, and have giveaways and a raffle for anyone who rides! We'll also be there to answer your questions, and talk all thinking biking in Baltimore! 

RSVP and invite your friends!

How do I get to Druid Hill Park?

There are a number of wide, fast roads surrounding the park (we're working on improving this — check out our Big Jump project!), so it's important to plan your route. Here are a few of our favorite ways to get there from various directions. 

Stick around and enjoy Druid Hill Park!

There are tons of fun things happening at Druid Hill Park that night, so stick around! 

Guided Bike Rides at the Druid Hill Farmers Market
Join Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Outdoor Recreation for guided, 7 mile, mostly flat bike ride around Druid Hill Park. Rides are at 5:15pm and 7:15pm and bikes are provided. $10 suggested donation. Registration is recommended BCRP.Bikes@baltimorecity.gov for more info. 

Free Yoga at the Market
Join the Baltimore Yoga Village and the Friends of Druid Hill Park for free yoga from 5:30pm-6:30pm! All levels welcome. Bring your own mat or blanket.

Movies at the Market featuring Hidden Figures
Bring your chairs and blankets to watch Hidden Figures, the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson - brilliant African-American women working at NASA. Movies begins at Dusk.

See a full list of market happenings here

Tips for Riding at Night

And if you do stick around, make sure you're ready to ride home in the dark. While good street lighting and bike infrastructure is important for safely riding a night, here are a few tips to help you be more seen and feel more comfortable:

  • Try to pick routes that are well lit and likely to be more populated.

  • Be extra cautious in looking out for potholes and debris in the road — they're even more difficult to see at night.

  • Be sure to have bright lights. A white light on the front and a red light for the back, like a car has, makes it easier for people to understand which direction you're headed. 

Judge Temporarily Halts Demolition of Potomac Street Bike Lane

Yair Flicker, Bikemore Board President, Mark Edelson, Attorney, Jed Weeks, Bikemore Policy Director, Mark Stichel, Attorney, and Liz Cornish, Bikemore Executive Director

Yair Flicker, Bikemore Board President, Mark Edelson, Attorney, Jed Weeks, Bikemore Policy Director, Mark Stichel, Attorney, and Liz Cornish, Bikemore Executive Director

A legal team led by Mark Edelson, Mark Stichel, and supported by Bikemore was granted a temporary restraining order halting demolition of the Potomac Street protected bike lane. The temporary restraining order was entered late Friday following a hearing before the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The team filed on behalf of Baltimore residents Marisa Saville and Steve Iannelli.

The mostly complete Potomac Street protected bike lane had been slated for removal by the Mayor’s office Monday morning, June 12, 2017.

“Our elected leaders and civil servants have worked tirelessly to attract federal and state funding for this project,” said Edelson. “Unfortunately, the city’s shortsighted decision put this funding and efforts at risk. Our city was already once forced to walk away from federal funding for transit and improved mobility. We will not allow that to happen again.”

Documents filed today by attorneys on behalf of the plaintiffs and Bikemore

Documents filed today by attorneys on behalf of the plaintiffs and Bikemore

“The Mayor has a responsibility to champion policy decisions that weigh equally the city’s stated goals of sustainability, public health, and safety,” Liz Cornish, Bikemore Executive Director said. “Bikemore has provided the Mayor with numerous recommendations to this aim. Bikemore had hoped this would have been resolved another way.”

33% of residents in Baltimore lack access to a car. This number grows to over 70% in our city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Safe, comfortable bike facilities like the one designed on Potomac Street are the key to improving mobility to the thousands of residents who need it.

“My son and I use the Potomac Street lane to get to and from sports practice at Du Burns Arena,” said plaintiff Marisa Saville. “Before installation of the protected lane, we only felt safe riding illegally on the sidewalk. We’re thrilled to know our family has a few more days of safe transportation until a hearing hopefully makes that safety permanent.”

In the coming days the court will schedule a hearing on the request for preliminary injunction. Help us continue the #fightforbikes by setting up a reoccurring monthly donation today.

Transportation Advocacy Organizations Join Together to Defend Complete Streets


The below letter was sent in support of Complete Streets from 1000 Friends of Maryland, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, Bikemore, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Citizens Planning and Housing Association, and The Opportunity Coalition.

June 9, 2017  
The Honorable Catherine Pugh
Mayor, City of Baltimore
100 North Holliday Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Dear Mayor Pugh:

We are writing to express our concern over the removal of the Potomac Street protected bike lane in Southeast Baltimore, and the precedent set by this decision, based on an interpretation of the International Fire Code 20 foot unobstructed access rule for fire apparatus access roads.

When we commit to public safety, it requires us to act in the best interest of our citizens, to minimize risk, and ensure equal access to health and safety. Prioritizing efficient emergency access at the peril of safety of people walking and biking is problematic. It is the administration’s duty to make infrastructure safe for people who live and travel in Baltimore City under a variety of conditions. That means protecting people from traffic crashes as well as reducing risks of fire. Baltimore must not set a precedent that indicates the Baltimore City Fire Department is unable to safely fight fires on streets without 20 foot clear access.

Such a precedent has broad implications that extend beyond bike lanes. It potentially threatens portions of the Baltimore Red Line corridor and any other transit project that contains on-street rail or road diets associated with construction. It threatens new construction in our city, where best practices state streets should have travel lanes under 12 feet in width. It threatens all infill development and home retrofits on streets that have existing conditions narrower than 20 feet clear.

The broad International Fire Code adopted by Baltimore City is in conflict with the City’s local, context-sensitive engineering design guidelines. This conflict is not unique to Baltimore; many other historic cities such as Boston have found themselves at this crossroads and chosen to prioritize local, context sensitive design of streets over broad international code guidelines inappropriate for the dense urban built environment. Baltimore should follow their lead, not do the opposite. 

Lack of physical activity and a number of negative health outcomes are closely related to the built environment. One-third of Baltimore’s residents lack access to automobiles, and that number climbs to above 80% in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The number one cause of death for teens in the US is vehicular crashes. Those who do bike and walk in Baltimore suffer death and injury from being struck by cars at disproportionately high rates. Furthermore, many residents currently do not bike in Baltimore City precisely due the dearth of safe and protected bike lanes. These residents and commuters end up back in their cars increasing traffic and reducing available parking.

These are just a few of the reasons experts believe that the emphasis on designing for large fire trucks is not the best way to improve the health and safety of people. That's why the National Association of City Transportation Officials states in its Urban Street Design Guide: "Design for the most vulnerable street user rather than the largest possible vehicle. While designs must account for the challenges that larger vehicles, especially emergency vehicles, may face, these infrequent challenges must not dominate the safety or comfort of a site for the majority of daily users."  

In fact, referencing the needs of Baltimore's neighborhoods your own Transition Report states “The City should continue to invest in innovative efforts to link neighborhoods to opportunities within the City and throughout the close-in suburbs by strategically advocating for transit improvements from MTA and tactically expanding Baltimore BikeShare and dedicated bicycle lanes.”

Baltimore can not continue to prioritize moving and parking cars over moving people. Baltimore can not thrive without safe, reliable access to multiple modes of transportation.

If our city is to turn the corner and begin to thrive and grow, we must aggressively pursue buildout of safe places to walk, bike, and ride public transit. That means building out our protected bike network. It means fixing sidewalks city wide. It means building more bus-only lanes and building the Red Line. It does not mean catering to a few vocal opponents over the safety and needs of the majority of Baltimoreans. 

We urge you to follow the lead of our peer cities and your own transition report, reverse this decision, and move forward alongside us in fighting for a Baltimore that has safe, reliable transportation options for all people.

Sincerely,
1000 Friends of Maryland
Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
Bikemore
Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
Citizens Planning and Housing Association
The Opportunity Coalition

 

Response to Mayor's Statement on Potomac Street

Today, the mayor told reporters “got to be up to code,” implying that the International Fire Code requirement for 20 feet of unobstructed access on fire apparatus access roads is being strictly interpreted to apply to city streets, including Potomac Street, where the city plans to remove a 75% complete protected bike lane.

We look forward to holding the mayor accountable to this claim, particularly in respect to the miles of reverse angle parking that have been installed during the same time period as the Potomac Street planning process that fail the 20 feet clear standard and the many major development projects underway in the city that have planned streets under 20 feet clear.

The decision to weigh international code above local street context flies in the face of best practices of safety, public health and economic development.

The mayor’s spokesperson also said advocacy groups have “built their reputation on confrontation.” Bikemore has been a true partner to the city: offering freely our guidance, serving on committees, and helping to secure national recognition and hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for the city’s efforts. Both Executive Director Liz Cornish and Policy Director Jed Weeks served on the mayor’s transition team, and her transition report adopted many of Bikemore’s recommendations to improve the everyday safety of residents who use city streets.

Prior to taking action on Potomac Street, Bikemore worked alongside the city for weeks, bringing national leaders in transportation to the table to help educate the mayor and her staff on best practices and solutions when faced with these constraints. We, and those experts, had hoped for a different outcome.

The Mayor is not simply choosing to ignore the nearly 1000 residents and business owners who in a single week have expressed concern over this decision, but the stated position of Councilman Zeke Cohen, the Canton Community Association, and the communities that surround Canton that have requested real action to calm traffic and reduce car dependency by providing safe, comfortable, all-ages bike facilities.

The fact that there is even a debate that pits the safety of emergency response against the safety of Baltimore residents who demand improvements to walking and biking safety is a failure of leadership. It shows a lack of understanding of national best practices and an unwillingness to hold a vision for sustainable, affordable, healthy transportation solutions for Baltimore residents.

Removal of this facility now almost certainly means the city must pay back already spent federal and state grants with local dollars, while expending additional local dollars on removal. It’s unconscionable to waste those local dollars on a non-problem when we’re short on money for our schools.