Today we learned that Director Pourciau has resigned. We want to wish her well on her next endeavor. When Bikemore served on Mayor Pugh’s transition team for transportation we were hopeful. Janette Sadik-Kahn came and spoke, and the mayor sat in the first row taking notes. She accepted the transition team’s recommendation for the passage of a robust complete streets bill that would place Baltimore ahead of most major cities. But at every turn, from Potomac Street to Roland Avenue, the actions taken by Mayor Pugh and Director Pourciau were at odds with the ethos of progressive transportation both claimed to embody.
The amount of leadership change in the Department of Transportation over the past five years is troubling. This lack of leadership has cost the City millions in lost grant dollars, resulted in poorly managed projects, led to the attrition of talented staff, and has sown deep distrust in communities. When communities don’t trust DOT to do its job, it blocks all progress toward building a city connected with high quality transportation choices.
The next leader of DOT needs to be someone ready to empower the talented and trained city employees. They need to steward resources in order to maximize every transportation dollar. They need to create a vision that promotes the safety of all road users, and improves access to opportunity--especially for our most vulnerable residents. This vision must be explicit enough so that when community contention arises, the path forward is clear--streets should be designed for the safety of people over the movement of cars.
Baltimore cannot afford two more years of backsliding. Under this administration’s leadership Baltimore regularly grabbed headlines for decisions wholly out of step with best practices in the transportation industry. In that time smaller cities lapped us in investments in biking, walking, and transit infrastructure. Baltimore cannot afford any more injuries or deaths due to unsafe street design. Baltimore cannot afford to return any more State and Federal transportation dollars. Baltimore cannot afford to lose residents because they cannot get to work.
And lastly, any executive decision made over the past two years that went against best practices in design and engineering should be reexamined and rolled back. Baltimore deserves better. And in the wake of Director Pourciau’s departure and the imminent resignation of Mayor Pugh, vulnerable road users shouldn’t have to continue to pay the price.