Call for Artists: RFP for Public Art in Reservoir Hill

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We're looking for local artists or artist-led teams for a public art project in Reservoir Hill! 

In 2018, Bikemore was awarded a T. Rowe Price grant to facilitate a public art project in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood. Since May, we've held biweekly open meetings with members of the community, gathered insight from past projects and artists across the country, and gathered ideas from neighbors during the Druid Hill Farmer’s Market in mid-July.

Now we're ready to selected an artist and move this project forward. We're currently accepting proposals from artists to implement in a two-phase approach to creating this public artwork, including both a community engagement phase and the design and implementation of the project.

From the input we've gathered thus far, many residents value Reservoir Hill’s relationship with the neighboring Druid Hill Park, and that historic and emotional connection is one that should be celebrated, particularly because of the large streets currently hindering neighbors’ access to the park.

In 2019, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will be conducting a comprehensive traffic study of Auchentoroly Terrace and Druid Park Lake Drive corridor, one of the busiest sections of Reservoir Hill. This public artwork is intended to encourage members of the community to think about what they would like their streets to look like. The project should empower neighbors to engage in conversations about their desires for Reservoir Hill, so that they have the necessary tools to advocate for themselves during the traffic study itself.

Public art can be defined in many ways. We are intentionally neglecting to pinpoint the medium or style this project should take, and artists of all backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to apply.

Deadlines
Monday, August 27th | Application deadline
Tuesday, September 11th | Notification of selection
Monday, November 5th | Project Completion

We're winning!

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One year ago we were celebrating saving the Potomac Street bike lane. And while that was a victory for bikes, we knew this was just the beginning of the fight to get a long term policy solution to an unfair application of the law.

For 14 months Bikemore staff worked tirelessly to pressure the City to come to a solution. And on Monday we saw that hard work pay off and scored a significant win. Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to remove Appendix D from the Fire Code and state that all new street design must conform to NACTO standards. This means that the Fire Department can no longer arbitrarily block the construction of bike lanes by pointing to a section of the fire code that makes zero sense in an urban environment.

And while we still await the Mayor signing the bill into law, we demonstrated that we are tenacious in our pursuit of a city that’s safe for people who bike. And that because of your support we can deliver groundbreaking wins.

Help us celebrate by making a donation to Bikemore today. Right now we need you more than ever. These wins are only possible because of support from people like you. With 40% of our operating budget funded through grassroots donations, we rely on individuals just like you stepping up and joining the fight for bikes. Help us secure the next win with a donation of $50 or more today.

Already gave? Forward this story to a friend who loves bikes, and let them know why you support Bikemore.

 

Check out some of our recent press on the issue: 

“It’s important to note that this bill does not change BCFD’s role in project plans review,” she pointed out. “It simply ensures that conversation around fire access begins at a place that fully considers the benefits of designing a city safe for biking and walking.” 
— City council passes bill altering fire code to address stalled bike lane, building projects, Baltimore Fishbowl

“This has been a year-long fight to make sure our city advances in progressive transportation planning,” said Liz Cornish, the director of Bikemore. “We think council made the right move and we look forward to the mayor signing this bill.” 
City Council repeals part of fire code to accommodate bike lanes, development, Baltimore Sun

 

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

 Residents using the new #BigJumpBaltimore connection

Residents using the new #BigJumpBaltimore connection

A post from Liz Cornish, Bikemore Executive Director

It has been a good couple of weeks for bike advocacy. We saw the installation of #BigJumpBaltimore, a one mile walking and biking path that creates a safe connection across the Jones Falls Expressway. One of the highlights has been hearing from residents of Lakeview Towers who can finally travel to Remington to access amenities on their mobility devices--demonstrating once again how our work is about so much more than bikes. This project represents an innovative partnership between Baltimore City DOT, the office of Councilman Pinkett, PeopleForBikes, and Bikemore. It also demonstrates that the city has the capacity to engineer and install transformative projects quickly when the right folks come to the table. We look forward to advocating for this approach to be applied to other neighborhoods seeking solutions to improve safety, calm traffic, and improve mobility of residents.

 

 City Council Hearing on BCFD video that deployed a truck in front of Liz Cornish's home.

City Council Hearing on BCFD video that deployed a truck in front of Liz Cornish's home.

Councilman Dorsey introduced Council Bill 18-0259 – Fire Code Appendix D Repeal which is scheduled to be voted out of second reader on August 6th. This would resolve the year and a half long struggle to design streets that follow NACTO guidelines by eliminating the overly restrictive portions of the International Fire Code that require 20-26 feet of clear width. The bill has support from both Complete Streets advocates and real estate developers who want to incorporate Complete Streets in new developments.

But we've also seen setbacks, including the press release issued late yesterday evening from Baltimore City DOT regarding next steps for Roland Avenue. After three years of protracted debate, fiery public meetings, multiple perspectives from residents being shared, and countless DOT resources expended, the Baltimore City DOT has announced they are hiring a consultant to continue the process of finding a permanent solution for Roland Avenue. 

Interim steps will include a pilot to reduce sections of the road to one lane and retention of two speed cameras along the corridor, both of which we support. The plan also calls for restoration of curbside parking on several blocks along the facility, which we do not support. These blocks happen to be where establishments attended by the largest critics of bicycle infrastructure are located. Piecemeal removal of protection on the Roland Avenue facility cripples the all-ages nature of the design and makes a confusing mess for all road users to navigate. New riders won't try biking on Roland Avenue, and existing users will face increased danger. It is a choice to value the convenience of curbside parking over the safety of vulnerable road users.

The opportunity was there for Baltimore City DOT to make a decisive move and select their own preferred option. It had strong citywide and Roland Park community support, and would have reduced the corridor to one lane and widened both the parking and bike lane. This solution addressed all valid stakeholder concerns and would have cost the city significantly less than a full redesign. We see the decision to devote more time and resources to this project as wasteful. DOT has allowed the circus around this small section of street to go on far past what’s appropriate to make neighbors feel heard and included in decision making. It has emboldened residents citywide into believing  if they just shout loud enough, if they deploy egregious scare tactics and disrupt public meetings, that they can get their way. That’s not good community engagement. That’s not how you create an equitable transportation system that considers all users.

 Sunset at Lake Montebello

Sunset at Lake Montebello

Last night, I stood out on the edge of Lake Montebello in the evening and counted over a hundred people riding bikes. There was a small child on a pink bike with streamers in the handle bars and training wheels riding ahead of her family walking along the lake. There were dozens of residents using Rec and Parks Ride Around the Reservoir bikes. There were men and women fully kitted out on fancy road bikes. And in one of the most touching displays, a woman pedaled by on a bike that had been adapted so that she could push a young person who I assume is otherwise confined to a wheelchair around the lake, allowing him to enjoy the breeze in his face and a really nice sunset. It’s unlikely these folks even know me or Bikemore’s work. For them, biking isn’t something they even wish to fight for, it’s just a joyful experience they want to share with people they love.

Our work is about ensuring that joy is accessible to every resident of Baltimore, no matter what zip code you live in. Bringing health and joy to Baltimore residents should be an easy choice, not one that sparks endless, divisive debate. Our advocacy for Roland Avenue moving forward will include continued support to neighborhood leaders who have already demonstrated the groundswell of support for a protected lane. We will continue to attend meetings with Baltimore City DOT, including the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission, and voice our opinion on appropriate design and next steps. But we can no longer in good conscious continue to direct our limited staff resources to attending every public meeting to push back against residents determined to prioritize their own personal convenience above collaborative solutions that address everyone’s concerns and improve safety for all.

We know many of our members will be impacted by DOT’s decision to remove some of the lane. We know we have supporters who own homes in Roland Park whose quality of life includes having a safe place for their kids to bike to school. We’re going to do our best to continue to advocate for traffic calming and an all-ages protected facility on Roland Avenue, but not at the expense of directing our work in neighborhoods that are excited to re-imagine public space and build inclusive, safe streets for all.

I can’t get that image of the woman at Lake Montebello out of my mind, pedaling for over an hour to allow her child to enjoy the outdoors. There are families facing hardships in neighborhoods throughout the city that want and deserve that access to recreation, that safety, and that mobility. I’m disappointed that the conversations around streets can’t seem to center their experience and needs. With the #BigJumpBaltimore, the City has demonstrated its ability to do innovative work that improves the safety of people who need it most. That should be the standard they are held to moving forward.

It's Happening! Big Jump Project Update

"For decades, road design has prioritized car commuting through the 7th district over residents' ability to access the assets and opportunities that exist both within and outside our district by foot, bicycle, or public transit. People for Bikes' Big Jump Project is an opportunity to re-focus our priorities on improving quality of life for people living in and around Reservoir Hill, making jobs to the east and our world-class Druid Hill Park to the north safely accessible to residents who choose to walk, bike, or take transit." 

Councilman Leon Pinkett, 7th District

Today, water-filled barriers are being installed on Druid Park Lake Drive and 28th Street, creating a wide walking and biking path connecting the neighborhoods of Penn North, Reservoir Hill, and Remington. Turning north at Sisson and 28th Street, the path will continue as a sidewalk and two-way separated bike lane to Wyman Park Drive, connecting to the Jones Falls Trail.

This installation is part of a larger grant Baltimore City won from PeopleForBikes, called The Big Jump Project. Full details of the project are available in our past posts here and here

We will be writing more in-depth about this project in the coming weeks, as well as working on a large public launch event to celebrate this new safe pathway between previously disconnected communities. 

If you want to get involved in event planning, come to our weekly planning happy hour!

In the meantime, we are celebrating this huge win for Baltimore, made possible by creative Baltimore City Department of Transportation staff and clear, committed leadership from Councilman Leon Pinkett.

This work wouldn't be possible without your continued financial support.

An Update on Roland Avenue

UPDATE to the Update: 

Last week, BCDOT presented options for revision of Roland Avenue. Their “preferred option” is a road diet that takes Roland Avenue down to one lane in each direction. This would slow traffic while allowing for a wider parking lane, reducing parking intrusion into the bike lane. This design would solve  It also is by far the most cost-effective and quickest to implement solution.

While several other designs presented would maintain an all-ages bike lane, they would cost in excess of a million dollars, money that can and should be spent building infrastructure in the rest of our city where it is desperately needed.

Two designs were presented that would remove protected, all-ages lanes entirely. Removing protected infrastructure on streets where our city-adopted plans require it is a dangerous and likely illegal move that we cannot support.

You can see the presentation and the options here.

Please use the below tool to send comments in support of the preferred option, #1:


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In brief

On Thursday at 6:00pm at Roland Park Elementary School, Baltimore City Department of Transportation will be hosting yet another meeting on potential design revisions for Roland Avenue. It's likely that BCDOT will present at least one design option that is incompatible with adopted city guidance and removes parking protection and the all-ages classification of Roland Avenue. Please come out and show your support for a revised design that reduces a travel lane and keeps an all-ages, curbside protected bike lane on Roland Avenue.

Background: Roland Ave needs a road diet

Cars continue to speed on Roland Avenue, causing dangerous conditions for people walking, biking, or trying to enter and exit parked cars. This is not an issue with a bike lane, it's an issue with inconsiderate, speeding drivers. Luckily, it's solvable.

From day one, we have advocated for a road diet on Roland Avenue that would reduce the street to a single travel lane, a wider parking lane, and a wider curbside protected bike lane in each direction. This design is proven to slow vehicular travel speeds, by far the number one complaint about the current design on Roland Avenue. It is also the #1 design alternative listed in Roland Park Civic League's own commissioned Alta Planning report. 

Any new design for Roland Avenue must maintain an all-ages, physically separated bike facility. Baltimore City Department of Transportation's own guidance states this, as does our city-adopted Bike Master Plan and Separated Bike Network Addendum. 

 Slide from the original BCDOT presentation on Roland Avenue, showing that traffic volumes and speeds on Roland Avenue require a physically separated bike facility.

Slide from the original BCDOT presentation on Roland Avenue, showing that traffic volumes and speeds on Roland Avenue require a physically separated bike facility.

Some say tear it out

Some neighbors in Roland Park continue to advocate for removal of the curbside bike lane and restoration of curbside parking.

Restoration of curbside parking would create a remaining area that is visually massive, contributing further to speeding cars along Roland Avenue. The Roland Park Civic League commissioned Alta Planning Report agrees with our assessment: "The travel lane may not seem narrower...and therefore will not calm traffic to the same degree as modification #1."

Returning parking curbside would require installation of a new median-side bike lane separated only by flex posts, or striping of a standard buffered bike lane, against BCDOT guidance. Either design would remove the all-ages, parking-separated nature of the original facility, a step backward in safety for people who bike.

Tearing it out has a cost

While additional striping for a road diet that keeps the bike lane curbside is cheap, returning parking curbside would require milling and resurfacing of Roland Avenue to install a significantly different striping pattern. This would cost upwards of $500,000 of local dollars.

For comparison, the local dollar contribution for BCDOT to build the entire separated bike network plan for West Baltimore is $464,848.

 11.5 miles of separated and supporting facilities in West Baltimore could be built for the cost of returning parking curbside on Roland Avenue.

11.5 miles of separated and supporting facilities in West Baltimore could be built for the cost of returning parking curbside on Roland Avenue.

Enough is enough

Baltimore City Department of Transportation has now spent years meeting with a vocal minority of Roland Park residents. The only reasonable and safe solution to their complaints happens to be the cheapest solution: striping a road diet and keeping a protected bike lane curbside. 

Any more time or dollars spent on this project = time or dollars that could be spent on increasing access to opportunity to residents most in need of it.

If Baltimore City Department of Transportation dares spend $500,000 on resurfacing Roland Avenue to make the street less safe for people biking instead of investing that money into expanding bike access into West Baltimore per the city's own adopted Separated Bike Lane Network Plan, they will be exacerbating inequity and doubling down on our city's well documented history of structurally racist infrastructure spending.