Fact Check: The Greenway Trails Network Plan Is Awesome, Support It.

Bikemore is part of the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition, funded by a Plan4Health grant from the American Planning Association and the Centers for Disease Control. Over the past year, our partner and lead on the project, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, has hosted over a dozen meetings with residents and stakeholders adjacent to the Gwynns Falls Parkway and 33rd Street corridor. At these meetings they discussed using these two streets to connect the Gwynns Falls Trail, Jones Falls Trail, and Herring Run Trail into an eventual 35 mile trail loop in Baltimore City where people can walk or bike safely in a dedicated space separated from mixed traffic.

One of the options proposed for 33rd Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway is a two-way, on street protected bike lane.

The other is a center-running, multi-use community path. The advantage of this option is that it could be used both by people walking and biking, as well as neighbors who just want to recreate outside their homes.

This isn't a new idea. The coalition is building on and supporting existing initiatives, including Parks & People’s One Park Concept, Baltimore City’s Growing Green Initiative, the updated Baltimore City Bicycle Master Plan, the Open Space and Parks Task Force, and a revitalized master plan for the Middle Branch. Going back further, it works to bring the original Olmsted vision for Baltimore's "Parkways" to life.

A Brief History of Olmsted Parkways

The revised Olmsted vision in The Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1914

The revised Olmsted vision in The Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1914

The Olmsted Brothers Company is responsible for the design of both 33rd Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway, among other parkways and boulevards in Baltimore City. The original intent and goal of these "Parkways" was to bring "Parking" (of the green—not car—variety) into communities, and connect Baltimore's entire park system via linear parks containing designated spaces for people to enjoy the park system by foot, car, bicycle, horse, or carriage.

Rapid city growth led to push back around the size of the right of way required to implement this plan. The result was the series of narrower boulevards present in our city today. Automobile based planning decisions in Baltimore, since these boulevards' construction, have turned them into high-speed automobile corridors, far from the original intent. Luckily, we can look back at the Olmsted vision for Baltimore, as well as to more successful implementations in other cities to see how we could better reprogram this space to match the true Olmsted intent.

The Olmsted designed Lincoln Parkway in Buffalo was planned with a multi-use, protected trail for people walking, biking, or riding.

Lincoln Parkway in Buffalo today looks much like 33rd Street, albeit with wider medians. While beautiful, it is rarely used by people.

The Olmsted Designed Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in the 1930's with a multi-use median path for people walking and biking.

Today, Eastern Parkway retains the multi-use median path for people walking, biking, playing chess, or sitting on benches.

The Olmsted designed Brooklyn Ocean Parkway's multi-use path was split to include a "bicycle highway" in the 1890's. 

Brooklyn's Ocean Parkway retains bicycle and walking paths today.

Project FAQ /Fact Check

While this is an exciting project that will serve all of Baltimore, and which has the potential to address a number of health, access, transportation equity, historic preservation, and quality of life issues for the whole city - some residents have expressed concerns about potential changes to the public space. A few others have spread false information about the project. 

This is just one piece of a 35 mile trail vision. If this one stretch fails to materialize like the rest of the trail, the economic, public health, and transportation benefits of the entire trail system are in jeopardy.

We address some of the concerns here:

Some neighbors say this will remove green space

The proposed multi-use path, one option being explored on the corridor, will enhance green space. Currently, the medians serve as a green barrier to high speed automobile traffic. Activating this space with a multi-use path is one step in reclaiming the street for all road users.

The proposed median path would actually add active green space by lengthening medians and closing some of the "u-turn" locations between the existing medians to reduce high speed car traffic cutting through neighborhoods.

In addition to the median path, additional trees, shrubs, and rain gardens would be implemented to control and treat stormwater. Currently, the median has soil that is severely compacted and does not effectively treat storm water. 

But some neighbors said you'll pave the median and kill all the trees

While a paved surface is the most ADA compliant and accessible surface, no decisions have been made about trail materials. There are many options. A "floating trail" can rest on the current median surface, and there are many other permeable paver solutions. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an example of a "floating trail" surface that is permeable and does not disturb existing plantings. A soft surface trail also allows water infiltration without tree root damage. 

The next round of study for this project will include specific planning and specifications for tree care as well as trail surface. There are many examples across the country of trail and path construction coinciding with tree care and maintenance. 

This would be dangerous for everyone

The current design of these roadways is dangerous for everyone. The floating unprotected bike lanes are substandard, the sidewalks have too many street crossings, and the wide travel lane allows cars to drive too fast. 

The proposed redesign would be engineered to the highest safety standards to protect trail users, residents, and people driving along the corridor. All crossings would prioritize the safety of trail users. Traffic calming would be a significant part of the design of the entire corridor. 

This plan isn't historic or destroys the Olmsted Vision

See the above background on the Olmsted vision for these parkways. This plan introduces many elements of the historic Olmsted vision, and will ultimately achieve the Olmsted goal of connecting Baltimore City's major parks via parkways that can be safely enjoyed by city residents by foot, car, horse, or bike.

So, what can I do if I support this plan?

#FillTheRoom for the next
33rd Street Open House

April 25th | 6:00 - 7:30pm
29th Street Community Center

RSVP and invite your friends and neighbors here!

 

 

How can YOU volunteer with Bikemore?

Bikemore was built from the ground up by volunteers, and with our small but mighty staff we still rely heavily on volunteers today! On Saturday we held a volunteer training to kick-off a busy spring full of opportunities for you to help out — and also to kick-off our new online volunteer sign up page

But if you missed it...


What does being a volunteer for Bikemore look like?

Throughout the year there are a variety of ways volunteers support Bikemore — everything from planning a route for a bike ride, to showing up at Department of Transportation meetings, to knocking on doors to get the word out about a project. We have a broad view of how we define "volunteer," because to us showing up at your community meeting and sharing your perspective as a person who bikes is just as crucial as helping to organize a bike ride. 

Here's a quick low-down on the types of volunteer roles we typically have. If you like talking to people, you like planning logistics, or you just like to ride your bike — we probably have something for you!  

BIKEMORE BOOTH We set up our tent at a community event and talk to people about Bikemore! You might help with set up or clean up, talk to people about what Bikemore does, or answer questions about biking in Baltimore. You'll always be paired with a Bikemore staff or board member if there are questions you don't know the answer to.   

BIKEMORE BOOTH
We set up our tent at a community event and talk to people about Bikemore! You might help with set up or clean up, talk to people about what Bikemore does, or answer questions about biking in Baltimore. You'll always be paired with a Bikemore staff or board member if there are questions you don't know the answer to. 

 

RIDE We organize rides to bring people together, to explore particular areas or issues, and to enjoy Baltimore by bike together! You might help check people in, act as a ride marshal to keep riders on route, or help with route planning beforehand.

RIDE
We organize rides to bring people together, to explore particular areas or issues, and to enjoy Baltimore by bike together! You might help check people in, act as a ride marshal to keep riders on route, or help with route planning beforehand.

ADVOCATING We show up (and #FilltheRoom!) at BCDOT meetings, community meetings, hearings, and other relevant events to make our voices heard. You might learn about a new project or an issue, and provide your input from the perspective of someone who bikes and walks. We try to let you know what Bikemore's stand on the issue is beforehand if we have specific recommendations.  

ADVOCATING
We show up (and #FilltheRoom!) at BCDOT meetings, community meetings, hearings, and other relevant events to make our voices heard. You might learn about a new project or an issue, and provide your input from the perspective of someone who bikes and walks. We try to let you know what Bikemore's stand on the issue is beforehand if we have specific recommendations.  

BIKE VALET We provide bike valet parking, where people can safely leave their bikes at busy events. You'll help check bikes in and out, and might help with setup or clean up. 

BIKE VALET
We provide bike valet parking, where people can safely leave their bikes at busy events. You'll help check bikes in and out, and might help with setup or clean up. 



How do I find out about volunteer opportunities? 

You can now always find upcoming volunteer opportunities here or by clicking "Take Action!" on our homepage. As new meetings and events are organized, we'll always be updating it so check back often. 

You can also sign up to be added to our volunteer mailing list here. If we're in particular need for volunteers, we'll send out a request to that list. 



Volunteering with Bikemore is a great way to connect with the biking community, and have a real impact on making Baltimore a more bikeable, walkable, livable city — and we couldn't do it without you! 

Your Guide to Experiencing Light City by Bike

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Light City is back! The festival is full tons of activity from March 31 to April 8, including large-scale installations, events, performances and more downtown and throughout Baltimore's neighborhoods. With popular festival like this, riding your bike can help you avoid the traffic and parking headache, and make it easier to get to more of the nearby activities and sites  — and there are even a few bike related events and rides! 
 

Getting to and around Light City


Biking to Light City

The majority of the activity is happening in the Inner Harbor, which is accessible via the protected bike lane on Maryland Avenue, The Guilford Avenue bike lane, the Jones Falls Trail, the Gwynns Falls Trail or the Waterfront Promenade. The area around the harbor will have higher vehicular and pedestrian traffic than usual, so use caution and plan to dismount and walk your bike accordingly.

Bike Parking

Public bike parking will be available behind the Baltimore Visitors Center located at 401 Light Street, and marked on the map to the right.


 

Baltimore Bike Share

The closest bike share stations to the main festival location are Harbor East, the Aquarium, and the Visitor Center. Use Bike Share to get there, to participate in one of the rides below, or to get back to where you started after walking through the festival! Find out more at www.bmorebikeshare.com

 

Bike Events & Rides


Baltimore Bike Party: Light Up the Night
March 31
6:30pm, Saint Mary’s Park

Bike Party’s monthly ride will feature a special “light” theme.  The ride starts in St. Mary’s Park and will end with an after party hosted by Waverly Main Streets at artist Jose Andres Rosero-Curet’s Neighborhood Lights installation. Get a free Bike Share bike an any station for this ride using the promo code "bbpmarch".


Baltimore City Recreation & Parks Neighborhood Lights Ride
April 1
6:30pm, Lake Montebello

Join local cyclists for a BCRP lead bike tour of artist Maura Dwyer’s Neighborhood Lights collaboration with Hamilton-Lauraville, and artist Jonathan Taube & Iman :Djouini’s collaboration with Coldstream Homestead Montebello.  BCRP will have loaner bikes on-hand, arrive before 7pm to check out a bike.


Kinetic Procession & Bike Glow Rally
April 7, Rash Field

6:30pm — Light your Bike Workshop

Show up early to decorate your bike with LED lights. You're encouraged to bring and share supplies for bike decorating, and a limited number of free battery powered LED string lights will distributed.

8:00pm — Kinetic Procession Parade

Then join Bikemore and other bike groups in the parade, walking your bike alongside wheeled contraptions and a variety of kinetic sculptures. The parade starts at Rash Field at 8pm, goes through the Harbor, and ends at the Aquarium.

9:15pm — Bike Ride to Neighborhood Lights

We'll then go on an illuminated group bike ride from the Aquarium to the Little Italy and Waverly Neighborhood Lights, ending back at the Inner Harbor around 10:45pm. The route sticks mostly to city designated bike trails and will be supported by experienced volunteers and Race Pace Bicycles staff.

Baltimore Bike Share will also be lending free bikes at the Aquarium for the ride. 

See route for the ride →

Action Alert: Yes on SB 0338, No on HB 1079

The Maryland General Assembly's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has two bills in front of it that you should take action on. 

SB 0338 allows HAWK Signals to improve pedestrian safety in Maryland. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has a good write-up on why this legislation is important and how HAWK signals will--and could have already--saved lives.

HB 1079 gives local jurisdictions the authority to impose additional penalties for people who improperly cross the street. Read our post here for more information on why this is a bad idea.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has no representatives from Baltimore City, but we encourage you to email them anyway in support of SB 0338 and in opposition to the cross filed version of HB 1079 that they will soon hear in committee.

HB 1079 and the History of Jaywalking

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In the Maryland General Assembly this session, Delegate McMillan of Anne Arundel County introduced House Bill 1079, which seeks to give local jurisdictions the authority to create a civil penalty for crossing outside of a crosswalk.

Staff from McMillan's office explained that this is in response to heavy tourist traffic in Annapolis. They believe being able to ticket tourists that cross outside of a crosswalk will improve pedestrian safety.

The bill is currently in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, after being passed on the floor of the House yesterday. Click here to tell the committee to vote NO on this bill.

Jaywalking has a storied past. In short, as cars became more prolific in cities, and death by automobile soared, communities sought to find solutions and penalties for drivers who recklessly endangered the public.

The automobile lobby fought back with a coordinated public relations effort that blamed the people who had been using roads for centuries, not the newest invention on the roadway. AAA began an "education campaign" in schools. The Boy Scouts were employed to hand out pamphlets on street corners. 

The automobile lobby won, and their message prevailed: It was the people walking who were in the wrong, they should get out of the way of cars, and if they refused they should be punished with fines or even jail time.

In the 1990's and early 2000's focus on jaywalking re-emerged as cities like New York and Baltimore used jaywalking as a way to target individuals for Terry Stops through broken windows policing. Studies now prove when you criminalize the behavior of vulnerable road users like people walking and biking, it disproportionately impacts communities of color. Layering fines in the name of safety compounds the challenges facing our communities instead of making them safer.

Back to HB 1079: if pedestrian safety is the aim, why not advocate for designing roads that reduce pedestrian injury and fatalities by lowering vehicle speed and adding sidewalks, safe crossings, and adequate lighting? Or pass out of the very same Judicial Proceedings Committee SB 0338, which would allow HAWK Signals in Maryland, a very real improvement that can be made for pedestrian safety?

Communities across the state are working hard to make places safer for biking and walking. It's good for public health, mobility, and the economy. Let's work harder on that, and let a 100 year old strategy rooted in racist and classist policy that unfairly penalizes Maryland residents and visitors for crossing the street die in committee.

Take Action on these Bills!