Advocacy

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.

ICYMI: Big Win for #CompleteStreets

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We did it. Together, with your support we passed the most progressive Complete Streets Ordinance in the country. It’s a huge win for biking, walking and transit. Thanks to your letters, your testimony and donations, we were able to do something that two years ago people doubted we could achieve. Led by Councilman Ryan Dorsey, lawmakers, city agencies, Bikemore and over 30 Complete Streets coalition members, we demonstrated Baltimore is ready to think differently about how are streets are designed.

Here’s what the bill does:

  • Gives neighbors more input into the process of street design. 


  • Makes sure investments in Complete Streets go to the communities that need them the most. 


  • Mandates progressive standards on street design to keep everyone who uses the road safe from reckless driving. 


Read the entire bill.

Last night while celebrating our victory, a community leader said that Bikemore is “punching above our weight.” Our work is gaining the attention of people across the city and is changing the conversation around how we design streets.

We fought for streets that prioritize your safety and we won. Help us celebrate our victory by making a donation to Bikemore today. Together we are building a force for biking in Baltimore, and we are winning.

 

Downtown Bike Network Resumes Construction

Downtown Bike Network Construction Timeline (courtesy of BCDOT)

Downtown Bike Network Construction Timeline (courtesy of BCDOT)

The Downtown Bike Network resumes construction this week. For full details, please visit Baltimore City Department of Transportation’s Downtown Bike Network page.

Background

The Downtown Bike Network was originally slated to be completed over a year ago. Construction was halted during the Potomac Street fire access discussion, and the Baltimore City Fire Department required a full re-design of the Downtown Bike Network before construction could resume.

We believe a re-design to comply with arbitrary fire clearance standards was unnecessary, and successfully fought to overturn that piece of fire code to prevent those standards from affecting projects again.

However, this fight occurred alongside the construction halt on Downtown Bike Network. So we worked with Baltimore City Department of Transportation on a re-design that improved significant portions of the design while also maintaining the at-the-time required fire clearance.

New Design Monument/Centre (the good)

The new design creates a fully-separated, two-way bike lane along Centre and Monument Streets from MLK/Eutaw to Washington Street. This will allow direct connections to future separated lanes on Wolfe or Washington Streets to the East, and to the future MLK sidepath and Eutaw Place separated lane.

The design replaces the original protected lane on Madison Street east of Guilford Avenue, replacing it with the two-way facility on Monument.

New Design Madison (not so good/opportunity to improve)

West of Guilford Avenue, Madison Street is planned to have a combination of separated lanes and buffered lanes, the latter being a requirement in portions due to the fire code. This section has been strongly opposed by the Director of Baltimore School for the Arts, and as a result, implementation has been delayed until Summer 2019.

Madison Street needs a re-design that calms traffic along the corridor. It is dangerous and contributes to economic decline of the corridor.

This delay in implementation is both a disappointment and an opportunity. The fire code update will go into effect in the end of October, which gives us the winter to discuss a better design for Madison Avenue that will meet the needs of people biking, the community desire for real traffic calming, and Dr. Ford’s concerns at Baltimore School for the Arts.

However, the delay until Summer 2019 may mean the grant will expire, causing us to lose the money to construct any design on Madison Street. This would be an unacceptable outcome. BCDOT must work to ensure any delay does not end with an expired grant, and must accept that some stakeholders may never accept infrastructure changes, even when they address critical street safety issues.

Changes on Maryland/Cathedral

Certain portions of the Maryland Avenue cycle track contain construction errors in the original design, including at the Pratt Street intersection. Other portions are regular conflict points, like at Centre Street and at the Lexington Street parking garage. Resuming construction of the Downtown Bike Network will allow us to fix these sections with correct and/or improved designs that will make the Maryland Avenue cycle track safer for all users.

Overall

The Downtown Bike Network will create a critical cross town connection that can be expanded upon into East and West Baltimore over the next 2-3 years. We’re thankful that BCDOT is taking a bold step in creating another high quality connection, and that they used this delay to think creatively and improve designs.

We will advocate to use the winter to improve the Madison Street design for a spring implementation that does not risk grant expiration.


Complete Streets at the Finish Line

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Today we’re one step closer to making it the law that streets are designed to prioritize the safety of all people using the street, not just the speed of moving cars — in all Baltimore neighborhoods.

Today, Baltimore City Council’s Land Use and Transportation Committee voted favorable with amendments on Bill #17-0102 Complete Streets.

This moves the Complete Streets bill out of committee, to a full city council vote on Second Reader scheduled for Monday, October 15th and Third Reader for Final Passage on Monday, October 29th.

If the bill is voted favorably on October 29th, it will go to Mayor Pugh’s desk for signature.

Once signed, it will be Baltimore City Department of Transportation’s job to begin implementation of the most progressive, equity-focused complete streets ordinance in the country.

If you are interested in attending either city council meeting, they will begin at 5pm. Please bring a state ID.

Background

Councilman Ryan Dorsey and the Baltimore Complete Streets coalition introduced our Complete Streets Ordinance just over a year ago in July 2017.

Since that time, Councilman Dorsey, the Council President’s Office, Councilman Pinkett, and Bikemore have stewarded the legislation through multiple agency meetings, public information sessions, and community meetings.

In March, we received national recognition for our progress when the National Complete Streets Coalition named Baltimore’s Complete Streets Ordinance one of 2017’s best initiatives and named Councilman Dorsey a complete streets champion. In April, we presented at Intersections 2018, the national conference for complete streets.

Subsequent hearings at the Land Use and Transportation Committee brought experts in street design to testify to City Council. A detailed presentation crafted by the Baltimore Complete Streets Coalition highlighted best practices across the country that were included in the bill, as well as identified locations in the bill where we had negotiated compromise with Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

These hearings led to work sessions in September and October where the Land Use and Transportation Committee adopted a series of technical amendments agreed upon by Councilman Dorsey, the coalition, and Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

At the final work session today, October 10th, the Land Use and Transportation Committee voted the bill favorable with amendments, sending it to the full city council for consideration.

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.