Fire Access issue still delaying the Downtown Bike Network

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This morning the city's Board of Estimates voted to approve a 318 day delay for work for the contractor hired to construct the Downtown Bike Network — again citing the fire access issue as the cause for delay. This means that the city now has until October 31, 2018 to complete work that was originally set to be completed by January 2017.

Beginning in May of 2017, there were complaints about the width of the Potomac Street bike lane which was then under construction, citing a portion of the Baltimore City adopted International Fire Code addressing the required width of streets. This code is now being applied only to streets with bike lanes, delaying construction of bike lanes that are already fully designed and funded. You can check out full story for more background on this ongoing issue. 

If less than 20 feet of clearance is truly a safety threat, the city should be applying the code to all projects, said Bikemore executive director Liz Cornish — not just those with bike lanes. “They’re not applying this interpretation of the fire code equitably for streets across the city,” Cornish said. “If it is, in fact, a safety issue, it is a safety issue on all streets.”
— Baltimore bike lane construction delayed again, amid fire code concerns, Baltimore Sun
“It’s disappointing to us that this project, which has already been subject to one extension, is already a year behind, and is now potentially behind for another year because of the fire clearance issue,” said Jed Weeks, policy director for local cycling nonprofit Bikemore.
— City Officials Again Delay Downtown Bike Network’s Installation, Baltimore Fishbowl

Want to support us in our ongoing #FightforBikes?

 

 

80 Valentines to lawmakers and $1,000!

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Photobooth photos courtesy of Side A Photograph.

Last week ~150 people came out to Bike Love to celebrate their love for biking, Baltimore, and Bikemore! Through our raffle, you generously donated nearly $1,000 to Bikemore, and with your creativity you advocated for Complete Streets by writing 80+ valentines to lawmakers across the city. Thanks to all who came out! 

And check out more photos here!

And thanks again to all who made it a success — our raffle donors Baltimore Bicycle WorksCharmington'sHill KillerPeabody Heights Brewery, LLCRace Pace BicyclesTwenty20 Cycling Co., and to Side A Photography, the Windup Space and our generous volunteers and board! 

 

Couldn't make it to the event, but still want to show your love for Bikemore?

Help bring a public bike tool station to Hollins Market!

Bikemore works to support other volunteer based bike advocacy initiatives across the city. We love helping to highlight the work of others and support them in achieving their goals. This month we are launching this fundraising page to support bringing a fix it station to Hollins Market — a neighbor led project made possible through support from the Southwest Partnership. Donations on this page will go directly toward to the purchase of the station. We love helping to build capacity of our grassroots partners and to share our resources, like fundraising tools, with others. 

Bike commuter and engaged neighbor Stephanie Compton is working to install a public bike tool station in her Hollins Market neighborhood! Here's what she has to say:

Biking really does create community and the best community at that. I first met my neighbors when one of them was riding by on my Southwest Baltimore street on flat tires. I called out to him that he could use my bike pump. He didn't just need an air pump, he needed a patch kit and the tools to do it. I lent my new friends the tools and we instantly became friends, or at the very least biking comrades. 
This inspired me to figure out how to install a community Fix-It station that I've seen in public places, like at our beloved Station North Tool Library. 
The Fix-It Station has an air pump with pressure gauge, and all the necessary bike maintenance tools attached with cable wire to a strong metal frame. It will be placed in a public spot with location input from neighbors, providing my neighbors easy and free access to bike tools.
I applied for a grant from the Southwest Partnership and was awarded $750 to host an event in 2018! But we still have $1120 to raise to cover the full cost of the Fix It station (`~$1400) and other costs including permitting, event and outreach costs. 
My goal is to host a community event May 6th to celebrate the installation, but I need your support. Will you help bring the Fix It station to my neighborhood? 
 

Donate to bring the bike tool station to Hollins Market! 


If you would like to be involved in this Southwest Baltimore community event or have questions, please contact stephjenea@gmail.com.


Special thanks to MECU, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.

 
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Q&A: Relationships post Potomac, current advocacy strategies & more

Our Q&As are our way of sharing with you questions that we've heard recently. If one person asks it, we know more of you must be curious. These questions came from our Members' Meeting held on January 10th.

It was standing room only at our Members' Meeting! 

It was standing room only at our Members' Meeting! 

 

What's going on with the Jones Falls extension?

The Jones Falls Trail extension from Cylburn Arboretum to Mount Washington is currently under construction. It includes a bike and pedestrian bridge across Northern Parkway.

What about targeting your 501c4 work to getting good people elected to the Central committee?

Yes, we're constantly working at many levels of government, but there are definitely other folks working more targeted there.

When does the funding for the Downtown Bike Network expire?

We're working to get clarity around this. 

What is Bikemore's relationship with the City like post Potomac? Were we "iced out" because of it?

We're still in City Hall most days of the week and are definitely still invited to conversations. We did everything we could behind the scenes through collaborative methods before taking the City to court, and they seem to understand that.

Do you have any early ideas for targeted advocacy we should take for the Complete Streets Bill?

We've been working on building a broad based coalition for Complete Streets since the start, with many council members already on board. So while along with Councilman Ryan Dorsey we're leading the effort on this, we already have many diverse champions and are in a good position.

Do police have any data on the bike crime?

No, the police department doesn't categorize if bikes are involved in crime or even crashes. BPD was cooperative and supportive when we were working with them on the assault issue, but advocating for better stats, while very helpful, doesn't seem like a likely win so we're not focusing energy on it at this point. 

What about taking the Mayor on a bike ride?

We've offered before, more than happy to!

Is something going to happen with all those potholes on Druid Park Lake Drive with the Big Jump project?

Yes, if the road is reconfigured that will include repaving. We're concurrently working on a short-term pop up type project here, as well as longer term full redesign effort. 

What's strategies are currently working best to advocate in your neighborhood?

Personal notes to senior staffers that work around the mayor, like Jim Smith or Pete Hammen, seem to be particularly effective right now, and individuals that write heartfelt, personal correspondence to these individuals get responses and dialogue.

Communications and transparency from Bike Share doesn't seem to be improving since the relaunch, as promised. What gives?

Just to clarify, Bikemore does not run Bike Share. We try to support them and share our ideas with them, but we don't run it. It's our understanding and hope that this is simply a staffing issue. It's really the city's responsibility to deal with the communications side, not the operator, and there currently isn't DOT staff devoted to bike programming. It's our hope that with the hiring of a Bike Share Coordinator, the communications will be improved. We're also potentially looking into modeling the Bike Ambassador program that Philadelphia Bike Share system has in place, to employ community members to teach others about bike share. 

The Bike Share electric bikes aren't working. What's going on?

We've heard that the batteries on the electric bikes don't hold charge well with extreme cold temperatures. If they're not back up to speed after this crazy extreme cold front, we'll get back to it. We're also hopeful that with the announcement of a new major sponsor in February, there will be more accountability and solutions to issues like this.

Is dockless bike share interested in coming to Baltimore?

Yes, we think these companies are interested but understand the current state of Baltimore. Bikemore staff and board members went to DC last month to learn from their DOT staffers that worked on their current pilot program, and to talk with dockless operators. We're working on getting BCDOT to adopt a policy ahead of companies coming here so that we can ensure things like safety standards and equity are requirements at the start, as other cities have done. 

What's going on with the Bike Share station at Penn Station?

There's always a challenge when placing Bike Share on Amtrak property, because of the complicated bureaucratic nature of Amtrak. But it's been done in tons of other cities and we're hopeful it will be resolved here as well. 

Your Monthly Update: Fire Access, Our Legislative Agenda & More

Missed our Members' Meeting last week? Here's what you missed! Plus, we've heard that you want more regular project updates, so this is the first of our new monthly advocacy update series.

And the Q&A from the members' meeting will be published later this week!

 

Advocacy Updates

Baltimore Greenway Trails Network

  • Preliminary outreach and engineering work on
    • Gwynn Falls Parkway-Connecting Druid Hill Park to Leakin Park
    • Middle Branch-Connecting GFT, Westport, Port Covington, and Inner Harbor
  • Develop designs w/ BGE regarding connection between Herring Run and future Highland Town Rail-Trail
  • Working w/ Planning Dept to integrate Green Network Plan
  • Developing project name/branding

More about this project.
→ Rails-to-Trails staff is available to speak at community meetings to learn more: contact jim@railstotrails.org

Big Jump: Druid Park Lake Drive

Big Jump is a national 5 year program to expand biking in neighborhoods from PeopleForBikes. Baltimore was awarded for Remington and Reservoir Hill, to improve the biking and walking connection across the 28th Street bridge. Councilman Pinkett is advocating hard to use the maintenance-of-traffic agreement from the Druid Hill Park reservoir project to implement this solution, but the city is currently not agreeable.

→ More about this project.

Bike Share

Planned stations. Last column is current status, with community, contractor, MTA, developer, legal indicating the reason for a hold up. 

  • 27 live stations (32 by next week)
  • 220 bikes in system (not all on street due to weather)
  • 300+ bikes by mid February
  • Theft no longer an issue, BUT vandalism due to attempted theft still ongoing but manageable
  • Bike app accuracy issues resolved--95% accurate
  • Significant sponsor coming on in February--with specific goal of increasing membership
  • Baltimore being considered for Bewegen US bike manufacturing site

More about this project.

Downtown Bike Network

  • Maryland Avenue (construction hold)
    • It's 95% done, but on hold for fire access issue. Maryland Avenue has been deemed non-compliant by the Baltimore City Fire Department per Baltimore City DOT, though no documentation to that affect has been provided from our Public Information Act request.
  • Preston and Biddle Streets (construction hold)
    • These lanes are standard bike lanes that do not affect fire clearance, but they are also under construction hold because of the fire access issue.
  • Madison and Monument Streets (construction hold)
    • We're currently working with Hopkins to leverage their power, with the goal of a fully protected facility here that makes it safer and more comfortable to ride on these streets that are better lit and have more activity. The city currently plans for these to only be partially protected, and that protection would need to be removed to make them compliant with the fire access issue. 
  • Potomac Street (completed)
    • This is done! Hoorah!
  • Inner Harbor Jones Falls Stain (construction hold)
    • The plan calls for staining the inner harbor route green to be more clearly a bike route, but this is on hold because the Fire Department wants to review it even though it does not affect the width of the road. 

 More about this project.

Fire Access Issue

For more on this, read our latest blog post. But the short of it is that the city is choosing to apply the International Fire Code clearance rules to repaving projects with bike lanes on them, but not on any other roads. 

Mt Royal

Our last update on Mount Royal and the Midtown Streetscape project can be found here. In short, nothing has changed. The city broke its promise to hold construction until stakeholder concerns were addressed. The project is currently under construction, and will spend millions of dollars while making the street arguably more dangerous.

Miscellaneous Projects

  • 28th and 29th Street Traffic Calming (beginning neighborhood organizing phase)
    • Neighbors from GRIA, CVCA, and Harwood have formed a committee to advocate for calming traffic on these highway connector roads. Bikemore is helping facilitate. → Next meeting is 1/22
  • 41st Street Road Diet (in progress)
    • Neighbors organized around the too wide and too fast 41st St. Graham Young from DOT advocated for taking away one of the travel lanes and adding a protected bike lane, serving as a connector from Woodberry across Falls Road to the new Union Collective. So far the lane reduction and bike lane are in place, with flex post installation to protect the lane scheduled for this spring.
  • 39th Street Road Diet (planning)
    • Road diet and traffic calming project on 39th and Argonne that was supposed to be in the form of protected bike lanes, but Councilwoman Clarke and constituents are advocating for parking and turn lanes. Advocacy will need to begin on this project shortly.
  • Covington Street Lane (planning)
    • Bike lane was supposed to be installed in 2016, is due to be installed in 2018, will serve as a neighborhood connector from Rash Field to Federal Hill to Riverside Park.

Legislative Agenda

  • Complete Streets: Delay due to racial equity focus through disparity study. Want to get it right, even if it takes more time. → More. 
  • Parking Cash Out: Gives people option to take parking subsidy from employer (if provided) in form of cash payment. Starting with city employees first. →More.
  • Parking Minimums: Parking is expensive to build, harms affordability, harms walkable, dense neighborhoods.
  • Dedicated Pot: We’ve added revenue streams and will add more, we should dedicate to active and public transport.

North Ave Rising

The top is the current proposed design, but we're advocating for the bottom design.

  • The TIGER grant will improve operations for buses but won’t be great. We think the street should be great. We think great looks something like the bottom image to the right. Councilman Pinkett is leading the effort, in coordination with the Greater Baltimore Committee, to advocate for more money to build a better street.

More about this project. 

Trail and Bike Route Safety

  • 500 people signed our petition for safety improvements along JFT
  • We met with Rec and Parks to discuss our demands
  • Next steps:
    • Rec and Parks are creating an estimate for installation of light poles (Spring 2018)
    • Trees will be tagged for removal, will need volunteers (with chainsaws!!) to come help remove (Winter 2018)
    • Section of fence on north side being removed to serve as bail out
    • Continuing to work with partners like Public Defender's Office, Community Conferencing, City Agencies, BPD, and business to create a comprehensive safety and restorative justice approach

More about this.

Program Updates

 

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Mobile Bike Shop

  • Pilot project started in 2016
  • Have hosted 10 “shops” to date
  • Currently seeking funding to bring project to scale

More about this. 

 

Growing Bikemore

  • We’ve reached staff capacity
  • Will likely hire more staff in the next 12-18 months
  • We will outgrow our co-working space with additional staff/programming
  • On the hunt for a permanent space, likely in the next 1-2 years
    • Transit/bike accessible
    • Hub for all volunteer run bike programs to have meeting space/ access to resources to grow

Financial Snapshot

  • FY18 Budget $225K
  • We are about 75% of the way toward our fundraising goal for the year. About $50K more left to raise to meet our budget.
  • We are currently spending slightly under budget — 46% of total expenses — a little more than halfway through the fiscal year.
  • 35% of our income is individual gifts
  • Our average individual gift size is $123