Complete Streets

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.

Mayor Pugh Signs Complete Streets Ordinance

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As of Thursday, December 6th, the Baltimore Complete Streets ordinance is law. Mayor Pugh signed the legislation earlier this week, just days before the bill would have become law automatically.

Over the past two years, a broad coalition was formed to support and promote Complete Streets. The Baltimore Complete Streets Coalition is comprised of over 30 organizations including local groups like Bikemore, The League for People with Disabilities, No Boundaries Coalition and neighborhood associations, statewide organizations like the Maryland Builders Industry Association, and national groups such as AARP, the American Heart Association and Safe Routes to Schools.

This bill is about giving communities the power to work with DOT to build more equitable and healthy transportation infrastructure. When we began this effort, I aimed to set a new national standard for complete streets policies, including answering the imperative to put equity at the core of all transportation measures. So many community leaders and stakeholders have stepped up to build a policy that is truly best in class. Now it's time to work together to implement complete streets to ensure all our communities see real benefits from transportation decisions. - Councilman Ryan Dorsey

The bill received national recognition 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. Complete Streets prioritizes the safety of all people using Baltimore’s streets and prioritizes multi-modal transportation. 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 bill also contains several equity-focused provisions to address the disparities created by decades of structurally racist and car-oriented road design.

Baltimore's Complete Streets ordinance is a remarkable new model for the nation not just because of its strong, direct approach to equity and implementation, but also because of the broad, engaged coalition responsible for its adoption. The National Complete Streets Coalition is proud to recognize Councilman Ryan Dorsey, Bikemore, and the City of Baltimore for their leadership. - Heather Zaccaro Program Manager, National Complete Streets Coalition

Bikemore was an early champion of passing a robust, equity-focused Complete Streets ordinance, working to place it as a priority in the mayor’s transition report and drafting bill language for introduction alongside Councilman Ryan Dorsey.

We’re thrilled that the mayor has signed the legislation into law, and will continue to work over the next few months to ensure implementation is as intended.

None of this work is possible without the support of our volunteers and donors. Thank you!

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.

 

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.

We're winning!

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One year ago we were celebrating saving the Potomac Street bike lane. And while that was a victory for bikes, we knew this was just the beginning of the fight to get a long term policy solution to an unfair application of the law.

For 14 months Bikemore staff worked tirelessly to pressure the City to come to a solution. And on Monday we saw that hard work pay off and scored a significant win. Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to remove Appendix D from the Fire Code and state that all new street design must conform to NACTO standards. This means that the Fire Department can no longer arbitrarily block the construction of bike lanes by pointing to a section of the fire code that makes zero sense in an urban environment.

And while we still await the Mayor signing the bill into law, we demonstrated that we are tenacious in our pursuit of a city that’s safe for people who bike. And that because of your support we can deliver groundbreaking wins.

Help us celebrate by making a donation to Bikemore today. Right now we need you more than ever. These wins are only possible because of support from people like you. With 40% of our operating budget funded through grassroots donations, we rely on individuals just like you stepping up and joining the fight for bikes. Help us secure the next win with a donation of $50 or more today.

Already gave? Forward this story to a friend who loves bikes, and let them know why you support Bikemore.

 

Check out some of our recent press on the issue: 

“It’s important to note that this bill does not change BCFD’s role in project plans review,” she pointed out. “It simply ensures that conversation around fire access begins at a place that fully considers the benefits of designing a city safe for biking and walking.” 
— City council passes bill altering fire code to address stalled bike lane, building projects, Baltimore Fishbowl

“This has been a year-long fight to make sure our city advances in progressive transportation planning,” said Liz Cornish, the director of Bikemore. “We think council made the right move and we look forward to the mayor signing this bill.” 
City Council repeals part of fire code to accommodate bike lanes, development, Baltimore Sun