Update on the Bike Budget (It's Bad)

Bikemore Executive Director Liz Cornish, Councilman Leon Pinkett, Councilman Ryan Dorsey, and MBAC Chair Jon Laria testifying at Planning Commission.

Bikemore Executive Director Liz Cornish, Councilman Leon Pinkett, Councilman Ryan Dorsey, and MBAC Chair Jon Laria testifying at Planning Commission.

A month ago, Baltimore City Department of Transportation released a FY2020-2025 Capital Improvement Program that totally eliminated the line item for bicycle infrastructure for all six years.

Three weeks ago, we testified at the Planning Commission alongside Councilman Dorsey, Councilman Pinkett, and Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Commission Chair Jon Laria about this disparity, and members of the Planning Commission suggested BCDOT come back with a budget that reflects the adopted plan.

Yesterday BCDOT did the opposite, by presenting a plan to the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Commission to build only about six miles of infrastructure by 2025.

BCDOTs revised CIP at a meeting yesterday. The 12.7 miles listed are “lane miles” not road miles, which means DOT is counting bike infrastructure in both directions on a street to inflate their numbers.

BCDOTs revised CIP at a meeting yesterday. The 12.7 miles listed are “lane miles” not road miles, which means DOT is counting bike infrastructure in both directions on a street to inflate their numbers.

The Separated Lane Network Plan calls for building 77 road miles of infrastructure from 2018-2022, using $5 million in local dollars to match federal and state grants totaling about $27 million dollars over those five years.

BCDOT instead proposes building 6.35 road miles of infrastructure from 2020-2025, using just $3 million of local and federal dollars total. About 3 miles of this proposal are facilities that should have been built back in 2017.

If we’re being generous and count all 6.35 miles of infrastructure, BCDOT plans to ignore 92% of the plan they paid to develop and asked the Planning Commission to adopt. At the pace they propose, it will take over 70 years to implement the 5 year Separated Lane Network Plan.

After overwhelmingly negative feedback at the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission yesterday, it’s possible BCDOT will again revise their CIP request for today’s Planning Commission hearing.

But here’s where we’re at right now:

  • A BCDOT budget that blatantly ignores adopted city plans

  • A bicycle program over 20 miles behind schedule and a clear plan to fall further behind

  • Constant threats to downgrade and remove existing bike infrastructure

  • A missed deadline on the very first Complete Streets Ordinance update

  • A mass departure of talented BCDOT staff

  • Rising injury and death on our roadways

Even if the CIP is revised to show everything we want on paper, how can the Director be trusted to faithfully implement it, given these past two presentations, where we were told there was no capacity or intent to do that very implementation? How can we trust this agency to act in good faith when all the signs listed above prove they’re failing on nearly every front?

Baltimore City Department of Transportation will present their revised CIP at 3:00PM today, with public comment to follow. We plan to be there to highlight our concerns, and welcome citizens to join us.

Baltimore City DOT CIP Follow-Up | 417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor | 3:00PM until comments conclude

If you can’t join us, you’re also welcome to send an email expressing your concerns and the meaningful affect of bicycle infrastructure on your choice to live, work, and play in Baltimore to the Planning Department for inclusion in the Commission file (deptofplanning@baltimorecity.gov) and BCDOT Director Pourciau (michelle.pourciau@baltimorecity.gov).

It's the first budget after Complete Streets, and there's $0 for bikes.

The 2017 Separated Lane Network Plan. To stay on schedule, everything in Purple should be constructed this year, but none of it will be.

The 2017 Separated Lane Network Plan. To stay on schedule, everything in Purple should be constructed this year, but none of it will be.

You read that right.

It’s been just over a month since the passage of Baltimore Complete Streets, the nationally recognized Complete Streets ordinance that legally mandates Baltimore design streets through an equity lens, and prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists to the greatest extent possible. Baltimore City Department of Transportation was required to provide an update to the Baltimore City Council Land Use and Transportation Committee on day 30 after enactment, but no such update came.

Instead, we were greeted with the FY2020-2025 Capital Improvement Program, the city’s latest budget documents. Traditionally, Baltimore City DOT includes line item 508-019 Citywide Bike Infrastructure, which details proposed funding for bike improvements over the following six fiscal years, breaking down revenue sources by general/local funds, state grants, and federal highway grants and allocations.

FY2019-2024 CIP showing the line item for Citywide Bike Infrastructure. It was removed in this year’s CIP.

FY2019-2024 CIP showing the line item for Citywide Bike Infrastructure. It was removed in this year’s CIP.

The 2017 Separated Lane Network Plan, adopted by the Baltimore City Planning Commission under Mayor Pugh, specifically calls for $1,000,000 per year of General Funds for five years. By leveraging Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways and Federal Transportation Alternatives Program grants that require a local match, this approximately $5 million in local dollars could build the entire Separated Lane Network in five years. Building this network would connect 85% of Baltimoreans to low stress bicycle infrastructure. It’s one of the lowest cost, highest return bike plans in the country.

2017 Separated Lane Network construction timeline, budget, and revenue sources.

2017 Separated Lane Network construction timeline, budget, and revenue sources.

It’s pretty simple. Win big grants with small matches of local dollars. Build 17 miles of high quality separated and supporting infrastructure per year for five years. End with one of the best networks in the country.

Instead, we have no money for design and construction this year. Baltimore City Department of Transportation will tell you they plan on building 17 miles of infrastructure in 2019, and that everything’s fine. But let’s take a look at what that infrastructure actually is:

BCDOT’s proposed timelines for bike facilities

BCDOT’s proposed timelines for bike facilities

Every project listed for “Proposed 2019” is a prior year project. Every single one of these projects was already counted in lane mile totals in 2017 when the Separated Lane Network plan was adopted, because all of these projects were supposed to have been constructed by then. Delaying projects by anywhere from 3-7 years doesn’t mean you get to count them again.

The “Proposed 2020-2022” projects include MLK Jr, Eutaw Street, 20th Street, and Baker Street. If you refer back to the Separated Lane Network Plan map at the top, you’ll see these projects are supposed to be completed this year, in 2019, not proposed for 2022, the year the entire network plan is supposed to be built.

In short, Baltimore City Department of Transportation has budgeted zero dollars of new bike design and construction money for the next six years. The projects they’re double counting as mileage are projects that were already counted in prior years. And the new projects they’re proposing are coming years late, if at all since they haven’t promised funding alongside them.

We will be testifying at the Baltimore City Planning Commission on Thursday, January 10th about this disparity between city-adopted plans and the Capital Improvement Budget.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll also highlight some planned and ongoing infrastructure projects that are costing or will cost the city millions of dollars while making streets less safe for people walking, biking, and taking public transit.

Baltimore City Department of Transportation knew this Complete Streets ordinance was coming. They knew it was going to pass. This budget was an opportunity for them to show that they were making preparations to right their ship, but instead they continue to fire cannons at their own sails.

Liz Cornish recognized as True American Hero by StreetsBlog

BigJumpWeb_95_1G7A2153_cropped for email.jpg

Bikemore was recognized with two national awards from Streetsblog for our work in 2018! You were part of making this happen, and we’re so grateful for your support.

Our Executive Director Liz Cornish was recognized as one of four “True American Heroes,” given to people making significant contributions to the movement for more walkable, more sustainable, more livable cities.

The True American Heroes: Liz Cornish

Liz Cornish, the head of Baltimore bike advocacy organization Bikemore, spent the year trying to get the city to update its fire code to allow for more progressive street designs that would save lives. But a simple policy change ended up being a lot more acrimonious than anyone would have expected. Cornish faced perceived intimidation from rogue members of the local fire department.

In one case, an off-duty city employee — a planner — was physically assaulted by an off-duty fire department staffer, during a public meeting about bike lanes. Ultimately, however, the Fire Department’s antics weren’t rewarded. City Council approved the changes bike advocates sought in August.

And Big Jump Baltimore was recognized as the Best Pop-Up Demonstration in the list of the best and worse transportation news of 2018.

Best Pop-Up Demonstration: Baltimore

In 2018, Baltimore tackled a tough design problem in a very direct way. It took a street that had incomplete sidewalks and roading traffic and made a safe space for cyclists and pedestrian. Baltimore did it cheaply and quickly by laying down some water-filled traffic barriers to create a protected lane for rolling and walking. We like this can-do approach to a widespread design problem.

We’re doing the hard work to make Baltimore more bikeable and livable — we’re doing it strategically and creatively — and our work is being noticed nationally. 

Consider a donation to Bikemore today. We couldn’t have gotten where we are today without you, and we can’t build on this success in 2019 without your continued support. 

Biking mom matching all donations today!


Ginger, a mom who bikes with her kids daily, sent us a note pledging to donate up to $1,000 in matching funds, because her family’s livelihood depends on getting protected bike infrastructure built. Here’s her story —

Written by Ginger Hanson

It’s been four years since we said good bye to our car. Like unburdening yourself from a bad relationship the freedom was exciting. The year prior I had discovered family cargo biking which replaced the stress and wasted time of traffic jams and circling for parking with the exhilarating feeling of moving my body and effortlessly coasting up to the front door. Walking and biking have increased my joy exponentially and I don’t want to go back to all of the hassles of car ownership. Since we began this journey we have seen so many positive developments that have made no car easier: growing bike infrastructure, improvements to our bus service, increased options for car sharing, bike sharing, and scooter sharing. (If you haven’t tried the new scooters I encourage you to do so, F. U. N. you will feel like a kid again!)

We have been through many stages of biking with children. We started with buckling them into a child’s bike seats when they were toddlers. We had an ingenious contraption called a Follow-me Tandem which made it easy to attach and de-attach their bike to ours. Then they rode on the deck of a Big Surly Big Dummy cargo bike. These days they like to help pedal on our Circe tandem with Burley Piccolo trail-a-bike. Perhaps you’ve seen us riding about town? Biking doesn’t just bring us a smile, we are constantly rewarded with smiles, waves and words of encouragement from on lookers.

The mission of Bikemore has always been important to me. Getting out of my car and onto a bike increased my joy exponentially. I am a brave soul, an early adopter, but I would like others to feel comfortable and empowered to make this choice too. That is what the work of Bikemore is doing for our city. Not everyone will be willing to, or able to give up their car, but everyone can make small changes to reduce their trips by car. As the density of our city grows and we continue to look for ways to make our air cleaner, empowering people to choose active transportation by providing safe and comfortable infrastructure will become increasingly important.

Our oldest is now beginning middle school and becoming more independent. More and more our kids want to ride their own bikes, under their own power, going where they want to go. I can see the time when they will need to be given permission to do so. It is scary. I want them to have this freedom. They have long been aware of and compliant with traffic safety rules, I trust them in that capacity. However, I fear the vulnerability of them being on a bicycle in traffic with faster moving, heavier cars, with drivers who are not always paying attention. Bike lanes provide some assurance, but still leave them vulnerable to distracted drivers.

The growing network of protected cycle tracks brought about through the advocacy of Bikemore and members like myself are so necessary to making families and children comfortable. This is why I support Bikemore. I have seen the power that our collective voices and strong leadership can bring. We need to continue our work, they city is not safe enough for all families and all children who get around by foot and bike. We must do more to create a safe and equitable city.

Help make streets safer for Ginger, her kids, and all the other Baltimore families just trying to safely get to school and work. Donate today to help meet Ginger’s $1,000 match!

Bikemore is people powered


Bikemore is powered by people just like you. This year… 

145 people rode in Cranksgiving 
600 people supported the Big Jump by attending our block party 
1,000+ donations were made to Bikemore
1,000 people signed the Complete Streets petition and 500 people wrote letters of support 
Countless Baltimore residents are safer, healthier and happier riding their bike

We’re so grateful for all you have done to power Bikemore this year. And we're excited and ready to keep working with you, listening to you, and fighting for you in 2019 — but we need your continued support. 

Please consider donating an amount that is meaningful to you. Together we are building a force for biking in Baltimore.