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For the 2018 Primary Election on June 26th, Bikemore put out a candidate questionnaire to all primary candidates, asking about their priorities and visions for transportation in Baltimore.
46th District Candidates Responding:
Bill Ferguson, Senate
Robbyn Lewis, Delegate
Brooke Lierman, Delegate
Nate Loewentheil, Delegate
Maryland’s urbanized areas have limited space on streets, and some modes of transportation must be prioritized over others to make the most of this limited space. Please rank the below modes of transportation in order of importance:
The State of Maryland should incentivize smart growth via infill development, transportation oriented development, and adaptive re-use. Greenfield development should receive no state subsidy, and greenfield developers should pay the full share of any road, septic, stormwater, or sewer upgrades necessary for development.
Historically, regional transportation planning in Maryland has been structurally racist.
The State of Maryland should conduct an equity gap analysis and disparity study of transportation investment over the past 75 years, comparing investment in private automobile travel and public transportation, biking, and walking, including analysis of where these investments were made based on race and income levels.
The Baltimore Metropolitan Council and Baltimore Regional Transportation Board should include racial equity as a main outcome in all regional planning initiatives.
Data shows that expanding roadways induces demand on that roadway, negating the benefits of the roadway expansion. The State of Maryland should stop expanding highways and rural/suburban roadways, and instead divert that money to proven methods of shifting mode away from private automobile use.
The Maryland Transit Administration should immediately conduct an updated regional transit needs assessment and capital needs inventory. The needs identified should be prioritized for full funding, even if it means delaying or canceling planned road expansion projects.
The Maryland Transit Administration should update the 2002 Regional Rail Plan with a new regional transit vision, and projects identified within should be prioritized for full funding, even if it means delaying or canceling planned road expansion projects.
The MARC Growth and Investment Plan, delivering weekend service on all MARC lines, expansion to Wilmington, DE, and high-frequency express service between Baltimore and Washington should be prioritized for full funding, even if it means delaying or canceling planned road expansion projects.
The Maryland Department of Transportation should adopt a progressive Complete Streets approach, mandating all urban and suburban roadways under their control prioritize safety for people walking and biking over throughput for automobiles. These roadways should be retrofitted with ADA accessible sidewalks and low-stress, all-ages bicycle infrastructure, even if that means reducing roadway throughput for private automobiles.
Many zoning codes in urban areas require one parking space per new dwelling unit. This is:
Some cities have removed minimum parking requirements from their zoning code entirely, allowing the market to determine how many spaces of parking are needed in a new building. Local urban jurisdictions in Maryland should remove minimum parking requirements.
Some cities have instituted maximum parking requirements in their zoning codes, capping the amount of parking that can be constructed in a new building. Local urban jurisdictions in Maryland should enact maximum parking requirements in certain zoning areas.
Some cities mandate that the cost of parking be separated from apartment rent. This incentivizes living car free, and lowers the total cost of housing. The State of Maryland should mandate unbundling parking costs from housing.
Some cities require employers that subsidize parking also offer an option for employees to receive that subsidy as a cash payment. The State of Maryland should mandate parking cash-out.
Urban jurisdictions in Maryland should allow taller, denser, or larger buildings in areas they are now prohibited by zoning if that increase results in more affordable housing units.
Urban jurisdictions in Maryland should allow large residences to be split into apartments, increasing density in neighborhoods that were traditionally single family homes.
Speeds are too high on urban streets. In urbanized areas, Maryland should enforce a maximum speed limit of 25 mph on arterial streets, and 20 mph on local streets.
Automated Speed Enforcement Cameras are proven to reduce fatal collisions. These cameras should be able to be used on any street, not just near schools and construction sites.
The Automated Speed Enforcement Camera threshold is too high. Cameras should be able to issue citations for those traveling 5 miles per hour or more over the speed limit.
Do you use a bicycle for transportation? If so, for what purposes and how often, and what was your last trip by bicycle?
Bill Ferguson: Yes, but not as much as I'd like. Generally, I bike for recreational purposes and less for day-to-day transit purposes. Fall 2017 was last bike ride around the neighborhoods in the southeast. Looking forward to biking more as the weather turns this Spring. Also, last summer, I taught my son how to ride, and I'm looking forward to riding with him more often.
Robbyn Lewis: Yes. I have been car-free since 2013 (this does not account for the years during my college and graduate school years when I was also car-free). Before becoming a delegate I used mass transit, my bicycle, and ride-share as a primary means for moving around Baltimore. I live in Patterson Park Neighborhood and used to work in the Inner Harbor; during those years I rode the #40 bus or my bike to and from work daily. The last trip I had by bike was last November -- a typical trip, from home to Whole Foods in Harbor East. NB. January to April I am in session, therefore I do not use my bike as often. Because I am car-free, and because there is no quality mass transit between Baltimore and Annapolis, I live in Annapolis during the week and only go home on weekends. I use ride-share to go home to Baltimore on Friday night, and to return to Annapolis on Monday. While in Annapolis, my life revolves around the House Office Building and the State House, which are just one block apart, so I walk from home to work during session.
Brooke Lierman: I don't usually use a bicycle for transportation, although my husband does. (He commutes daily using his bike to and from downtown for work.)
Nate Loewentheil: I bike every single day to my day job; and basically bike to any meeting within three miles. I ride a Diamondback Trace.
Do you use public transportation? If so, for what purpose and how often, and what was your last trip by public transportation?
Bill Ferguson: Yes, inconsistently. I use the MTA buses predominantly whenever I have a workday in Baltimore that allows me to be at the office all day and not traveling from place to place. I also often use MTA buses and the Circulator to travel downtown. This past winter 2017 was last use of transit system.
Robbyn Lewis: Yes, of course. I grew up in Chicago, lived in New York city for 5 years and haved live in and explored the world’s cities that have amazing transit, such as Singapore, London and Paris. Using mass transit is my default setting. I can definitively say that getting rid of my car in 2013 was one of the best decisions I have made.
My last bus trip was in late February, when I was home in Baltimore on the weekend. I rode the Orange/Blue line (used to be the #40 Quick Bus) from my home in Patterson Park to downtown, to meet a friend at Ida B’s Kitchen near City Hall.
I have advocated for, and worked to pass, measures that would increase the reliability and accessibility of our public transportation in Baltimore for the past 8 years. In 2010, I was selected to serve on the Station Area Advisory Committee for the Red Line. I was assigned to the Highlandtown-Greektown station, which was the site closest to my home. I talked to a lot of folks about concerning the Red Line-- elected officials, community leaders, nonprofit leaders, friends and allies in Baltimore city as well as in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The message came thru clearly: to win construction funding, Baltimore needed strong leadership and advocacy for this project. What was missing in Baltimore’s advocacy ecosystem was political action on behalf of transit.
In 2011, I conceived and founded Red Line Now PAC, the first grassroots, volunteer-run political organization to demand transit investment in Baltimore’s history. I decided that if no one else would stand up for Baltimore, I would. In the lead up to the 2013 legislative session, I led Red Line Now PAC to mobilize almost 1000 residents along the project corridor from east to west, and lobbied most every city councilperson and state delegate and senator on the corridor as well. I helped to create the first ever regional transit alliance -- the Get Maryland Moving coalition -- to bring together Red Line and Purple Line advocates to fight for the 2013 Transportation funding bill. We did our small part to get that bill passed, ensuring the state’s funding for Red Line construction.
While we were all heartbroken at Governor Hogan’s reckless decision to cancel the project, I remain committed to working for modern mass transit in Baltimore City. This year in session I introduced and supported legislation to strengthen our public transit system, including HB 749, which calls for automatic enforcement of Baltimore’s dedicated bus lanes. I look forward to working with organizations like Bikemore to continue the fight for quality and equitable public transit in Baltimore.
Brooke Lierman: I use public transportation when I can, including taking the MARC to DC when going for work or political events or the MTA bus or circulator when available. My last trip on public transportation was in the fall of 2017 when I went to D.C. Since then I have (1) had a baby and (2) been working in Annapolis, so not as much time in Baltimore without lugging around a baby...
That said, I am a big believer in public transportation, and was a Red Line supporter and member of my neighborhood SAAC and a member of the Red Line Citizen Advisory Council. I also passed Hb 1010 in 2016 to create an MTA Oversight + Planning board (vetoed), and passed HB 271 to repeal the farebox mandate in 2017. In 2018, I successfully amended HB 372 to add funding for MTA and to require a capital needs assessment and new transit plan.
Nate Loewentheil: I ride the MARC whenever I have to go to DC, but rarely ride public transportation around Baltimore as I either bike or drive.
Do you agree with the 2015 Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan and 2017 Separated Bike Lane Network Addendum recommendations, and if so, what budgetary or policy commitments would you make to help Baltimore close its 47 lane mile construction deficit and achieve the yearly 17 mile construction milestones?
Bill Ferguson: Yes. I support a Complete Streets approach to transportation planning and implementation, as aligns with the Bicycle Master Plan. I look forward to working with Bikemore to identify potential state funding opportunities to expand this work in our City.
Robbyn Lewis: Yes, I agree with the Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan and 2017 Separated Bike Lane Network Addendum recommendations. As a participant in the early Bikemore steering committee meetings back in 2011-2012, and also as a current member of Bikemore’s Board of Directors, I was engaged with the creation and drafting of both the 2015 Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan and 2017 Separated Bike Lane Network.
Brooke Lierman: Yes I think we should work on adding mandated money to the Bikeways program at MDOT to help jurisdictions around the state build more bike paths and lanes.
Nate Loewentheil: I support the Bicycle Master Plan and the 2017 Separated Bike Lane Network Addendum. I honestly don't know a great deal about how the state does or does not earmark funding for specific modes in Baltimore, but I will be a strong advocate for state funding for the city's bike network and would work with city and state agencies to explore other potential resources, e.g., Federal grants.
What are the biggest barriers to mode shift (getting people to choose walking, biking, or public transit instead of personal vehicles), and what should Maryland and Baltimore City do to address these impediments?
Bill Ferguson: Safety and security along transit routes is essential. If cyclists, walkers, runners, etc feel unsafe during travel, there is little incentive to consider modes beyond automobiles. We need to make a commitment to a real vision for multi-modal transportation throughout the City. Additionally, I would add that now having two children has made it harder to consider options beyond cars or buses for most trips. This is a difficult barrier to overcome, but it is reality for many Baltimore families.
Robbyn Lewis: The biggest barriers to mode shift are accessibility and reliability of alternative transit options. The best way to move people toward mode shift is to make it easy and pleasant to get out of their cars. We do this with a combination of incentives, including but not limited to:
1) Complete streets everywhere, in every neighborhood.
2) Minimize parking requirements, and really make it clear that we mean it by preferential approvals of development projects that follow this standard.
3) Rewarding people who choose to downsize the number of cars they own, or who go car-free.
4) Enable employers to reward employees who use bike and walking to get to work, such as I tried to do with my Parking Cash Out bill HB 1637.
5) Complete construction of Baltimore’s bike master plan with all the protected bike lanes.
6) Investment in modern mass transit infrastructure.
These are just a few ideas we have the power and knowledge and community demand to implement right now; we just need the political will. I am more than ready to work on these goals.
Brooke Lierman: Reliability and access are the biggest barriers to public transit use. Our transit system is not connected and is not reliable. It also does not go all the places it needs to go (i.e. there are no MTA stops in Historic Fell's Point. The closest is Eastern Ave, which is the very north side of FP). For biking, I think we need more protected bike lanes - that would encourage people to bike more and feel safer.
Nate Loewentheil: I would break this question into two parts: how do you get people to shift to bikes and walking; and how do you shift people to public transportation.
(1) Bikes and walking: To shift to bikes, we need to build a bike network that leads people to actually want to bike. Biking has natural advantages - exercise, speed, flexibility, cost - but the prospect of navigating Baltimore City streets deters all but the most dedicated. In addition to bike lanes - which are a must - I think the Greenway Trails Network should be a big priority. Give people a way to get around the city AND be in green space at the same time and all of a sudden you've made biking that much more attractive. To increase walking, similarly, you need to make walking a more attractive option by beautifying the streetscape and increasing public safety.
(2) Public transportation: I wrote my senior thesis in college on expanding public transportation in Baltimore City and later led transportation policy at the White House. You will not find a bigger advocate for public transportation. However, I don't see a clear path forward in Baltimore at the moment for major public transportation expansion. The experience of other cities suggests that it is very, very difficult to significantly increase bus ridership. Nor is there a short-term viable path to a major new addition to our fixed-line transit system. My priority on public transportation is to improve the experience of the people who do ride the bus and various fixed-line systems by focused on maintenance and technology that can improve on-time performance and allow for real-time tracking.
(3) I would add a third question, which is: are there alternatives to walking, bikes and public transportation? I foresee a future where more and more people opt for a combination of walking, biking and cheap on-demand car services. The costs of services like Via in New York are so low that they rival Maryland bus fare. I think we need to work to build public-private partnerships that give alternatives to city residents to owning cars. In the long-term, I believe on-demand car services offer an ideal solution to the last-mile problem and make fixed-line transit more rather than less viable in cities like Baltimore.
Describe your vision of a healthy, safe, equitable transportation system for Baltimore City and the roles walking, biking, and public transportation play in that vision.
Bill Ferguson: Ideally, we would have a comprehensive vision for transportation that focuses on effectively and efficiently moving people and goods rather than accommodating vehicular traffic. There is no excuse for our lackluster transportation system as it exists today in the City. In a perfect world, we would redesign the thousands of miles of roadways we have in the City aligned with a Complete Streets approach. In the meantime, we can move towards that vision with new transportation projects as they arise.
Robbyn Lewis: A transport system that centers human beings is what our city needs and deserves. Centering on human beings means that everyone has options that enable to get around efficiently, safely, pleasantly and sustainably without dependence on a privately owned vehicle, and no one should ever be hit by a car and injured or killed while moving around on foot or on bike.
A transport system that accomplishes these goals has the following features: 1) complete streets in every neighborhood including downtown; 2) a fully built out bicycle network, like, say, the Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan, with lots of protected infrastructure; 3) a fully built out Green Network trail; 4) an east-west light rail line to replace the Red Line; 5) expansion of MARC service with new station at Bayview; 6) world class bus service with a rational, efficient network of routes and dedicated bus lanes that are respected and protected, with signal priority where needed. We need leadership at the city and state level to make this happen. A policy framework that will make this vision possible will include some or all of the following: 1) vision zero plan; 2) dedicated funding stream for transit that is equitable and permits high quality service as well as expansion; 3) adherence to the city's Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Plan; 4) incentives to encourage people to get out of their cars or give up their cars altogether; 5) incentives to employers so that they support workers who use walking, biking and transit; 6) a regional transportation planning entity that really works, so that we can begin to plan and build the best regional system in the world. I am committed to work on all of this.
Brooke Lierman: A healthy, safe, equitable transportation system should offer multiple options for getting around the City and region to our residents. Walking, water-taxi'ing, taking the bus or light rail or subway, and biking should all be options and should provide seamless connections. Over 1/3 of the City does not have access to a car, and that means that our public transit and bike systems are even more important to creating an equitable City where everyone can eat, work, play and get around from neighborhood to neighborhood. We are pretty far from achieving that vision, but I keep trying to push it and ensure that we keep our eye on the ball so that we are at least moving forward in state policy, and not backwards.
Nate Loewentheil: Traffic in Baltimore significantly detracts from our city's quality of life, hurts our downtown businesses, and costs a fortune in impact on our roads. We need to find ways to move people out of their cars. I am an advocate for 'complete streets' that combine streetscape beautification with bike trails, well-maintained (and well lit!) sidewalks, and of course room for cars. Per above, I also believe that technology is quickly changing the realm of the possible when it comes to on-demand point-to-point transportation.
How does transportation fit in your overall plan for a healthy and economically thriving Maryland? Explain your transportation philosophy.
Bill Ferguson: Efficient and effective transportation options are essential for a thriving regional economy. The movement of people and goods underpins the societal structures that exist in our everyday lives. Intentional transportation choices over time in Baltimore have created a disconnected and divided City. Improving our transportation infrastructure to be more equitable and complete is essential for our City to reach its fullest potential.
Robbyn Lewis: Improving the efficiency of our mass transit system is not only essential for the environment, but imperative for the economic viability of our state’s economy. Efficient and modern public transportation is crucial for access to opportunity and job growth. Transportation is at the center of my vision for a healthy, equitable, and sustainable future for our state. I believe that this future depends on reducing our dependence on cars, and investing in modern mass transit. In order for Baltimore city to grow we must build a modern mass transit system that includes complete streets, a bike network with protected lanes that connect to transit, and pedestrian amenities.
Brooke Lierman: Maryland can never be a great state with a subpar public transit system. Maryland has some of the worst commute times and most congestion in the country. Without increasing our transit options, our congestion will only get worse. In addition, because such a large percentage of Baltimoreans have no regular access to a car, in order to get employees to employers in a timely manner, we need more reliable and efficient transportation options. Employers regularly cite transportation as one of the problems facing their companies. We can change that: we have to invest in infrastructure like bus-only lanes, BRT, light rail, water taxis/ferries, and more protected bike lanes. In order to ensure that employers have access to employees and vice-versa, we need to create and fund high quality, reliable transportation options. (And not invest in huge privatized highways!)
Nate Loewentheil: Transportation is the life-blood of our city and our state. I believe providing a strong transportation system is a core function of government and that investments in our infrastructure are investments in our future.
This candidate survey is run by Bikemore In Action, Bikemore's 501c4 advocacy arm.