Action Alert

ACTION ALERT: Monument Street

Tell Mayor Young to halt deconstruction of a half block of newly installed protected bike lane on Monument Street:

Background

Today the City plans to move forward with the removal and modification of a half block of the Monument Street two-way protected bike lane. Between Aisquith and Central Avenue, DOT will remove the portion of the bike lane dedicated for westbound bike traffic and force riders onto the sidewalk located on the north side, adjacent to Dunbar High School’s fields. This $50,000 change is occurring to restore 12 parking spots on the north side of Monument Street.

Bikemore strongly opposes this removal. For the past six months, when it became clear that the City was moving forward with this change, we repeatedly asked for the designs so we could give feedback. These designs were never made available to either Bikemore or the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission despite the multiple requests. No public meetings were held about this change. We first learned of the design and removal timeline on the same day everyone else did: May 15th. Thirteen days ago, one day short of the required 14 days notice.

This is unacceptable, and puts advocates in a position that forces us to be reactive versus collaborative. It is an act of bad faith, and if we are to move forward as a City that values streets designed for people over cars, we need the Department of Transportation to do better.

This change on Monument Street is problematic for a variety of reasons. But the main ones are that it violates the recently adopted Complete Streets law and further prohibits the City’s ability to be awarded state and federal transportation dollars.

The Complete Street law requires the City:

    1. Comply with State and Federal funding requirements. Alteration and removal of portions of Monument Street go against the state funded and approved design. Maryland Department of Transportation has said enough is enough, and will not continue to provide grants for complete streets infrastructure in Baltimore as long as we continue to remove or alter those facilities for political reasons.

    2. Promote walking, biking, and transit to the greatest extent possible. By forcing bike traffic onto the sidewalk it makes walking and biking on that section of street less safe. It creates conflict between people walking and people biking, and places people biking in a position that makes them less predictable to people driving cars.

    3. Ensure equity by actively pursuing the elimination of health, economic, and access disparities. We know that 33% of the city lacks access to a car, and according to census data over 75% of households lack access to a car along the Monument Street corridor where changes are proposed. Removing infrastructure proven to reduce access disparity and improve health outcomes to install parking is deeply inequitable.

Future State and Federal funding is on the line:

The majority of funding that improves walking, biking, and transit in the City comes from State and Federal money. Given the City’s current budget priorities it is unlikely, at least in the short term, that this situation will change. When the City destroys projects constructed with State funds, it is no wonder the State is now looking to other Maryland communities to support over Baltimore. This money doesn’t only fund bike lanes, it can be used to fund recreation trails, bike parking, traffic calming, and a variety of other infrastructure that improves the safety and quality of life of Baltimore City residents.

By deciding to remove this section of Monument Street, the Mayor is sending a message to residents that short term responses to a handful of people complaining about parking is more important than long term investment in transportation for the entire city.

If they care about improved community outreach, if they care about equitable investment in recreation and transportation across all neighborhoods, they will pause the planned deconstruction and respond to our concerns.

There are solutions available to the parking concerns that don’t cost $50K and threaten future state and federal transportation funding. It is a Mayor’s job to consider the entire city and make decisions that are strategic, not reactive. The decision to remove this portion of the bike lane to restore parking is short sighted. It doesn’t matter who put these decisions in motion or that they began prior to Mayor Young taking office. This is ultimately his decision. We believe there is a way for him to bring folks together on this issue. It starts with asking the Department of Transportation to stop the removal today.

ACTION ALERT: Support the Pilot on Roland Ave


A letter from Liz Cornish, Executive Director, Bikemore

Next Monday DOT will host a meeting to discuss whether or not to put down orange barrels for one mile on Roland Ave for four weeks. The idea is to determine if reducing that stretch of road to one lane is viable. If successful, it will demonstrate that it is possible to design a street that calms traffic, makes it safer get out of your car while parked in the street, and creates a wider, safer protected bike lane. Everyone has waited years for an improved design. We are ready to move forward.

Tell the City you support moving forward with the pilot. Tell the City that you support a protected bike lane on Roland Avenue.

Take action by sending an email to Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton using this form:

Four years ago Tom Palermo, a beloved member of the bicycling community, and most importantly a husband and father, was killed on Roland Avenue using a bike lane on the outside of the curbside parking by Heather Cook. Cook was drunk, texting, and operating a vehicle without regard for human life. Bikemore existed before then, but there is no denying Tom’s death was a catalyzing moment for bike advocacy in Baltimore.

Shortly thereafter construction for a resurfacing and streetscaping project on Roland Avenue began, one planned long before Tom’s death. DOT moved forward with the existing design for three reasons: The Roland Park Civic League asked for a protected bike lane in their Master Plan, NACTO guidelines recommend it on streets where average vehicle speed and traffic volumes match that of Roland Avenue, and at the time it seemed unviable to garner public support for the removal of a traffic lane. There is also no doubt that Tom’s tragic death just mere blocks from the project also influenced their decision to build a protected bike lane.

Very few people are happy with the current configuration — including me. But over time a narrative emerged that people advocating for a bike lane were intruders. That only long standing residents should have a say. People with access to power typically have the upper hand. And so it was. Tensions ran high, public meetings were fraught, and the whole thing became absurd.

In this instance some people became blind with rage when their own extraneous interests weren’t given top priority. It also demonstrated that the City is still a long way from being able to respond to controversy fairly and with precision.

This is out of hand. The folks driving this controversy are no longer acting in good faith. People have been given four years to share their perspective. It’s time for a final decision to be made and move on.

I hope folks that attend the meeting take a step back and check the nastiness at the door. I hope everyone looks at the plans DOT drew up to put some barrels down on the street for four weeks and shrug their shoulders and say, ok.

There’s enough space on that street to make cars drive slower, to make it safer to exit your car when it’s parked on the street, and make a protected lane that people of all ages can safely and comfortably enjoy. Anyone that says different has decided to do so only to win a fight of their own making.

Making a public street that prioritizes the safety of all people over the convenience of cars is the best thing for everyone — even people who have made it clear that they disagree. Opponents have lots of tactics. They want more data — plenty exists. They want more time — they’ve had four years. They evoke concerns that stoke fear, like emergency response — that have no basis. They ask us to think of the children getting dropped off in cars — without regard to the kids who would like to bike but cannot do so safely. They say clearly that the road should be designed with only the people that use it the most in mind — rather than those most likely to be injured or killed. They say cyclists don’t deserve a bike lane since they already don’t follow the law — completely disregarding that in the case of people like Tom and too many others, it is the DRIVER WHO BROKE THE LAW AND KILLED SOMEONE.

I shake my head when people tell me I should stay away, not engage, not fan the flames. They forget this isn’t some pet cause or a hobby. This is advocacy for something that is proven to make people healthier and safer — something proven to save lives.