Statement on Mayor Pugh's Decision to Remove Protected Bike Lanes on Roland Avenue

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Today, Mayor Pugh announced the cancellation of the Roland Avenue lane elimination pilot. Instead, Baltimore City Department of Transportation will remove the all-ages protected bike lane on Roland Avenue, return parking to the curbside, and install a standard green painted bicycle lane next to two automobile travel lanes.

We are disappointed that voices behind closed doors were able to influence this decision, despite a PIA request from a Roland Park neighbor showing 62% support for the road diet plan.

We still believe the pilot project should move forward. Why wouldn’t we test a design that could possibly make the street safer for everyone, before committing to spending between $700,000 and $1.4 million to restore a design proven to be unsafe, a design that couldn’t prevent the death of Tom Palermo just a few blocks north?

The meeting to discuss the pilot was supposed to happen Monday night. Since our blog post yesterday, over 100 people have written to Council Vice President Middleton supporting the pilot project, saying that no matter what, separated bike lanes have to remain on Roland Avenue. We have also heard from dozens of Roland Park residents directly who feel the same way, residents excited about the pilot, residents who purchased homes in Roland Park because of the protected lanes, residents scared of what may happen next.

We haven’t determined our next steps. But our position is this:

Baltimore City Department of Transportation must maintain an all-ages, protected bike lane on Roland Avenue, as called for in the Separated Lane Network Plan, and as required by national separated bike lane guidance adopted in ordinance and in policy by the City of Baltimore.

ACTION ALERT: Support the Pilot on Roland Ave


A letter from Liz Cornish, Executive Director, Bikemore

Next Monday DOT will host a meeting to discuss whether or not to put down orange barrels for one mile on Roland Ave for four weeks. The idea is to determine if reducing that stretch of road to one lane is viable. If successful, it will demonstrate that it is possible to design a street that calms traffic, makes it safer get out of your car while parked in the street, and creates a wider, safer protected bike lane. Everyone has waited years for an improved design. We are ready to move forward.

Tell the City you support moving forward with the pilot. Tell the City that you support a protected bike lane on Roland Avenue.

Take action by sending an email to Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton using this form:

Four years ago Tom Palermo, a beloved member of the bicycling community, and most importantly a husband and father, was killed on Roland Avenue using a bike lane on the outside of the curbside parking by Heather Cook. Cook was drunk, texting, and operating a vehicle without regard for human life. Bikemore existed before then, but there is no denying Tom’s death was a catalyzing moment for bike advocacy in Baltimore.

Shortly thereafter construction for a resurfacing and streetscaping project on Roland Avenue began, one planned long before Tom’s death. DOT moved forward with the existing design for three reasons: The Roland Park Civic League asked for a protected bike lane in their Master Plan, NACTO guidelines recommend it on streets where average vehicle speed and traffic volumes match that of Roland Avenue, and at the time it seemed unviable to garner public support for the removal of a traffic lane. There is also no doubt that Tom’s tragic death just mere blocks from the project also influenced their decision to build a protected bike lane.

Very few people are happy with the current configuration — including me. But over time a narrative emerged that people advocating for a bike lane were intruders. That only long standing residents should have a say. People with access to power typically have the upper hand. And so it was. Tensions ran high, public meetings were fraught, and the whole thing became absurd.

In this instance some people became blind with rage when their own extraneous interests weren’t given top priority. It also demonstrated that the City is still a long way from being able to respond to controversy fairly and with precision.

This is out of hand. The folks driving this controversy are no longer acting in good faith. People have been given four years to share their perspective. It’s time for a final decision to be made and move on.

I hope folks that attend the meeting take a step back and check the nastiness at the door. I hope everyone looks at the plans DOT drew up to put some barrels down on the street for four weeks and shrug their shoulders and say, ok.

There’s enough space on that street to make cars drive slower, to make it safer to exit your car when it’s parked on the street, and make a protected lane that people of all ages can safely and comfortably enjoy. Anyone that says different has decided to do so only to win a fight of their own making.

Making a public street that prioritizes the safety of all people over the convenience of cars is the best thing for everyone — even people who have made it clear that they disagree. Opponents have lots of tactics. They want more data — plenty exists. They want more time — they’ve had four years. They evoke concerns that stoke fear, like emergency response — that have no basis. They ask us to think of the children getting dropped off in cars — without regard to the kids who would like to bike but cannot do so safely. They say clearly that the road should be designed with only the people that use it the most in mind — rather than those most likely to be injured or killed. They say cyclists don’t deserve a bike lane since they already don’t follow the law — completely disregarding that in the case of people like Tom and too many others, it is the DRIVER WHO BROKE THE LAW AND KILLED SOMEONE.

I shake my head when people tell me I should stay away, not engage, not fan the flames. They forget this isn’t some pet cause or a hobby. This is advocacy for something that is proven to make people healthier and safer — something proven to save lives.

Baltimore needs all the love it can get

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Sometimes it can be difficult sometimes to fight for something relatively small when our challenge to become a better place to live loom so large.

When we talk about building our streets so that it’s safe to walk, bike, and take transit, we are really talking about building something that’s bigger than ourselves. It’s acting on a belief that everyone deserves dignity no matter how they choose to travel. Acting on a belief that equitable transportation may just be a starting point for something better than we’ve been before — a city designed for people. All people.

Riding a bike makes you love your city. And if you love your city, you can change it. Right now Baltimore needs all the love it can get. And we need you.

We can’t change everything today, but we can change something. Let’s change who the streets are for. Let’s design streets that help us meet our neighbors, feel the wind in our hair, and fall in love with our city. 

Help us build a force for biking. Help us spread the love. Help build a city designed for all people by donating $50 to Bikemore today.

We can’t do it without you.

Dockless Mobility Update

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Update to the update: The Baltimore City Land Use and Transportation Committee unanimously approved moving this bill out of committee and onto Second Reader. Thanks for your support.

Tomorrow at 1:00pm, Baltimore City Council’s Land Use and Transportation Committee is holding a hearing on the proposed Dockless Mobility legislation that will update Baltimore City code to regulate dockless mobility vehicles, including e-bikes and e-scooters.

This legislation is necessary to enable a permanent Dockless Vehicle program in Baltimore City. The current pilot program, now on a several-month extension, will come to an end and be replaced with this legislation and subsequent annual operating permit guidelines developed by Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

When the legislation was initially introduced, we had a number of concerns. A drafting error implied criminal penalties, including potential imprisonment, for riders. The ordinance contained what we felt to be inflexible and overly specific language, including specifics related to age of users, vehicle definitions, and maximum vehicle deployments. However, we were hopeful that these issues could be addressed in subsequent meetings with DOT.

We’re happy to report that the bill will be introduced tomorrow with numerous friendly amendments that address the majority of our serious reservations:

  • Criminal penalties have been removed from the bill for any users of dockless mobility vehicles.

  • The DOT director can define additional dockless mobility vehicle types beyond bikes and scooters, allowing for potential cargo vehicles or vehicles for people with disabilities that make riding a two-wheeled scooter or bicycle difficult.

  • Instead of a defined maximum in ordinance, the DOT director is instructed to set maximum and minimum numbers of vehicles in the annual permit, allowing more flexible change.

  • The 16 year old age restriction for riding e-bikes and e-scooters (which would have applied to personally owned and operated e-bikes and e-scooters as well) has been removed, allowing for potential vehicles that can accommodate child passengers.

  • Prohibition on multiple riders has been removed, allowing for potential tandem vehicles or vehicles that can accommodate child passengers.

  • You may now choose to ride in the street or on the sidewalk adjacent to a street with a speed limit over 29mph (Before, you were forced to ride on the sidewalk on streets with a speed limit over 30mph).

  • Electric motor speed limit of 15mph for e-bikes was restored to 20mph to match state and federal regulations of Tier I and II e-bikes.

In addition to these amendments, key language mandating equitable access to dockless vehicles throughout the city and in under-served areas as well as language around maintaining publicly accessible data remains.

Assuming these amendments, and the ordinance itself are approved by the Land Use and Transportation Committee as well as the rest of Baltimore City Council, we believe this ordinance will serve as a strong foundation for an innovative and nation-leading dockless vehicle permit developed by Baltimore City Department of Transportation that can evolve annually to reflect the changing market of this new mobility option.

While we congratulate Baltimore City DOT on drafting a strong first piece of legislation on dockless mobility, to fully support this program’s success, Baltimore City Department of Transportation will need to invest heavily in building protected, all-ages bicycle infrastructure throughout the city, with a clear prioritization of infrastructure in defined equity areas and areas with high rates of zero car households. We are a long way off from hitting that mark.

Bikemore awarded Bike Advocacy Organization of the Year!

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A letter from Liz Cornish, Executive Director, Bikemore

I have some news I want to share with you.

Last night I accepted an award at the National Bike Summit for Advocacy Organization of the Year from the League of American Bicyclists. OF THE YEAR! IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY! It was a full circle moment. Four years ago I left my job at the League to move to Baltimore and become the Executive Director of Bikemore. I wanted the chance to grow an organization from the ground up and be part of a community of advocates, activists, and public servants all working collectively to make Baltimore a better place to live — for everyone.

We received this recognition because of our ability to deliver big wins despite impossible odds. We’ve gone head to head with City Hall and advocated for change that has transformed how our streets are designed. And through that we’ve remained a partner to the Department of Transportation so that we can be a resource to them, and maintain a seat at the table representing the people who depend on us. People just like you.

So I’m asking you to help us keep going. Make a donation of $50 today, and you can feel good about being part of something bigger than yourself. Being part of something that just got the attention of everyone across the country fighting to make streets safer for people who bike.

We love Baltimore. And we’re asking Baltimore and our friends across the country to give love back. We’ve done so much with so little. Imagine what’s possible when we all pitch in.