Advocacy

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.

Big Jump: Druid Park Lake Drive and 28th Street

Proposed Changes to Druid Park Lake Drive

In January of last year, Baltimore was one of 10 cities selected for the PeopleForBikes Big Jump Project, a grant aimed at bolstering ridership in an already successful community and expanding that ridership into adjacent communities. Reflecting that grant constraint, Baltimore City's application focused on improving connectivity between an area of high opportunity, Remington, and areas in need of opportunity, including Penn North and Reservoir Hill. 

In late May, Baltimore City Department of Transportation plans to install the first component of the the Big Jump Project.

The ongoing DPW Druid Lake Reservoir construction and the traffic changes necessary to stage equipment for that project will result in lane closures on Druid Park Lake Drive. Taking advantage of these already required road closures, we're able to construct a walking and biking connection across Druid Park Lake Drive and the 28th Street bridge, connecting Remington directly to Reservoir Hill and Penn North. 

The current crossing is a narrow sidewalk alongside highway speed travel lanes that leads to a non-ADA accessible pedestrian bridge and an overgrown path alongside a highway onramp. Photos of existing conditions are below.

The new connection would be a wide shared-use path separated by water-filled barriers and planters. It will extend from Atkinson Street in Remington to Madison Avenue on the border of Reservoir Hill and Penn North. Additionally, the path will extend north on Sisson Street in Remington to connect to the existing Jones Falls Trail at Wyman Park Drive and extend west along an existing path and sidewalk to connect to the basketball courts on Druid Hill Avenue.

 The proposed barrier-protected bike and pedestrian path route is outlined in teal above.

The proposed barrier-protected bike and pedestrian path route is outlined in teal above.

The installation of this walking and biking path in late May will reduce Druid Park Lake Drive to one lane eastbound. Reservoir related construction will reduce Druid Park Lake Drive to one lane westbound. Not only will this project provide a safe walking and biking connection between neighborhoods across a highway, it will halve the crossing distance for pedestrians looking to access Druid Hill Park from neighborhoods to the south. 

Baltimore City Department of Transportation is also engaging in a large-scale corridor study of Auchentoroly Terrace and Druid Park Lake Drive. The goal is to incorporate the successes of this Big Jump Project idea into permanent road reconfiguration or removal to better reconnect Druid Hill Park to the neighborhoods surrounding it, while creating permanent safer walking and biking connections.

This idea has become a potential reality due to persistent advocacy and leadership from Bikemore and Councilman Leon Pinkett, as well as a commitment to The Big Jump Project from BCDOT Director Michelle Pourciau, dedicated and creative staff like Graham Young, and the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Commission.

Community meetings outlining this project are coming up, and we encourage neighbors to come out to learn more and support this project. Details are below.

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Baltimore Complete Streets Recognized Nationally as One of 12 Best Initiatives!

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The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, has recognized our new Complete Streets Bill as one of the 12 best Complete Streets initiatives of 2017!

In collaboration with Councilman Ryan Dorsey, the bill we drafted prioritizes the safety of all people using Baltimore’s streets over the speed of moving cars. Complete Streets often have slower speed limits, wide sidewalks and crosswalks, protected bike lanes, bus lanes and shelters, and beautification like trees and plantings. The Baltimore bill also contains several equity-focused provisions intended to address the disparities created by decades of structurally racist and car-oriented road design.

“Passing a comprehensive Complete Streets policy that centers equity is a key component Bikemore’s strategy,” says Bikemore Executive Director Liz Cornish. “Complete Streets is about so much more than bikes, and it’s past time we as a city commit to a policy that improves the health, safety, and mobility of all Baltimore residents. We are honored to have our work recognized by Smart Growth America, even as we recognize that work is just really beginning.”

Smart Growth America recognized Baltimore’s new policy for its focus on equity, implementation and accountability. “After scoring and rating America’s best complete policies for more than five years, we revised our criteria this year to reflect new lessons, particularly the importance of focusing on implementation and equity. We are impressed with the work Councilman Dorsey and Bikemore have done and are happy to feature the Baltimore bill as a leader in these emerging focus areas,” said Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition (a program of Smart Growth America).

Currently, Baltimore City has a Complete Streets resolution, passed in 2010, but that resolution non-binding and is often ignored. Beginning early in 2017, Councilman Dorsey and Bikemore began work building a coalition around Complete Streets, visiting with more than 50 neighborhood groups, and local, state, and national advocacy groups to discuss Complete Streets. The Bill’s first hearing, planned for the Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing on March 21, was cancelled due to snow and has been rescheduled tentatively for April 25 at 5:00PM. The hearing will be televised on Charm TV.

“If we truly wish to improve quality of life for all City residents, we need policies that prioritize disinvested communities and fundamentally change how we engage residents in the transportation planning process,” says Councilman Dorsey. “I’m happy that our work in Baltimore is being recognized. We are proud of it and look forward to working with Mayor Pugh, Council President Young, and my colleagues on the Council to pass and implement Complete Streets. However, legislation is just a start.”

“The real work of getting this bill passed is just beginning. Communities need to have ownership over the legislative process,” Dorsey continued, “for us that means conducting our own outreach with communities that are most directly affected by transportation disparities.”

In addition to being recognized by Smart Growth America, the Baltimore Complete Streets team was selected to present at the National Complete Streets Coalition’s second annual conference, called Intersections: Creating Culturally Complete Streets in Nashville, TN on April 3-4.

And while we've been working on this for over a year, this is really just the start. Over the following months, we're planning to grow and strengthen our coalition, do further outreach with communities that are most directly affected by transportation disparities, and work to get the bill passed. 

But to do this, we need your support. 

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

Tonight, speak up about North Ave Rising!

Tonight is the first meeting about North Avenue Rising. We hope you'll make it out, even if you can't make it until after work!

Here are the main points we'd like you to make:

  1. North Avenue Rising must have separated, dedicated transit lanes throughout the entire project corridor.

  2. North Avenue Rising must have separated, dedicated bicycle lanes at minimum between Pennsylvania Avenue and Broadway, where there is high density, frequent bus service, and a wider right-of-way.

  3. North Avenue Rising must have a road diet, calming the street and allowing space for high quality bike and transit lanes while maintaining parking for businesses.

  4. These requirements should lead to North Avenue Rising including center-running transit, which will further spur economic development and transit growth on North Avenue, and allow for a potential rail transit future for North Avenue once that growth demands it.

There are community meetings Monday through Thursday this week for you to attend. We're encouraging folks to #filltheroom at Monday night's meeting, but we encourage you to attend whichever meeting you're able to.

Monday, November 13, 2017
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Impact Hub
10 East North Avenue

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Bluford/KASA at Walbrook
2000 Edgewood Street

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rita R. Church Community Center
2101 Saint Lo Drive

Thursday, November 16, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Parkview Recreation Center
2610 Francis Street

>> Want to know more about North Ave Rising? More about the project and our take.