On Crime and Bikes

We wanted to craft a thoughtful response to the recent assaults and robberies that are impacting the Baltimore bike community--both describing the actions we’ve taken, things we plan to do in the future, and our analysis of this issue as a policy organization. 

We are not experts in adolescent development or juvenile justice, but Baltimore is full of people who are. We’ve spent the week discussing the recent assaults and robberies with some of these experts, and will continue to engage in conversations. As a policy organization, we believe in exploring issues deeply and making recommendations based on evidence. 

Children assaulting and robbing people is a serious problem. Every human being deserves safety. But we know, without equivocation, that youth crime is a symptom of a society that has disinvested in its children to such a degree that they are left without the support necessary for healthy adolescent development. We cannot address this issue without acknowledging the structural systems that got us here, and the policy solutions that can help us emerge. 

We are angry that people have been victims of assault and robbery. It isn’t right, and it has to stop. The kids responsible also need to be held accountable. We are attempting to work with Baltimore City Police to provide any information that can help bring an end to the ongoing violence and robberies so people can feel safe again riding their bikes. Sadly the two hot spots - Maryland Ave and the Jones Falls Trail - are two of the only places to ride your bike and feel safe from speeding cars. We have to restore safety to those integral routes. We also know that policing alone cannot ensure these types of attacks won’t happen again, and that a result that places children into the criminal justice system will likely lead to additional harm and an outcome that makes our community less healthy and safe in the long term. 

Last week we recruited volunteers to hang out in the hot spots where crime was occurring to be a friendly face to folks biking by, and collect signatures to support environmental design solutions that can improve safety on the Jones Falls Trails. We are pleased to report that we have over 500 signatures to deliver to the City in support of these request. If you’d still like to sign, you can do so here. Baltimore City Police have already committed to placing a light tower on the switchbacks of the Jones Falls Trail while funding for a more appropriate lighting solution can be procured. Rec and Parks has committed to clearing the brush to improve sight lines. And we are in the beginning stages of conversations with community partners that may be able to support the placement of an emergency call box. Thanks to everyone that volunteered. 

We are currently working with the Community Conferencing Center to provide an alternative path toward accountability for these crimes. If you have been a victim of these recent assaults and robberies and would like to learn more about the restorative justice techniques they use, send an email to We will be organizing an information session so those who have been impacted can learn more about the choices available to them if they are able to identify the kids who have been committing these crimes. This method does not make light of the seriousness of the crimes, but acknowledges the real harm that comes from sending a child through the criminal justice system, and the lack of autonomy and restitution a victim can experience in the criminal justice system. If you want to have a say in how a crime committed against you is resolved, Community Conferencing can provide that pathway, and in no way rules out the option of pressing charges later if a satisfactory resolution is not reached. 

As Bikemore, we are here advocating for the safety of all people on bikes. What makes this particular situation so sad, is that a healthy city is one where children are free to ride bikes with their friends around the neighborhood. When a crime pattern creates suspicion of children riding bikes together, that has serious impacts on every family in the city. We can only imagine the difficulty some families experience in having to refrain from allowing their child to ride a bike--for fear of being attacked, robbed, or profiled by police. It also forces us to confront the very real disparity that is evident by people who have mobility, transportation choice, and relative wealth biking through neighborhoods full of people that do not. Regardless of the intent of these crimes, that disparity is at its root. And it has no simple solutions. 

We want to share some short term and long term strategies we are working on to both help put an end to these crimes, and be unwavering in our position of advocating for the health and safety of all people in Baltimore--especially our city’s children. In this instance that means following the lead of those who are making a difference in the community preventing, intervening, and restoring justice for crimes committed by children. 

How to Stay Safe in the Short Term: 

  • Keep riding. The more of us out there in the afternoons and evenings, the more difficult it is for someone to be a victim. 
  • Use resources like social media (the Unofficial Bikemore Forum and Women Bike Baltimore are good examples) to find a riding buddy that has a similar commute. 
  • Avoid stopping along your commute to engage with folks especially in hot spots like Maryland Ave north of Lanvale and Falls Road. Keep pedaling. 
  • Stay alert. No headphones, use a super bright front light, and if you’re able--use a camera. 
  • If you are confronted, remember property is replaceable. Keep yourself safe and retreat. 
  • Make a report. Call 911 when you’re in a safe place. If you are unable to wait for an officer due to the lag folks often experience when trying to report a crime not in progress, you can make a report in person at a station or online. 
  • Record your bike’s serial number and follow up after making a report to ensure that information is included. If it’s stolen this can help it be recovered and/or help lead police to the people committing the assaults and robberies. 
  • In the end, you’re in charge of your safety. Follow your gut and make decisions that are right for you. That can also mean not riding for awhile. We support you. 

How to Create Safety in the Long Term

Correcting the impacts of generational poverty that cause people to remain with little access to healthy food, healthcare, and opportunity costs money. As an American society we often tend to think about these things as personal problems. These problems however are rarely personal failings, but often structural. Someone with power made a decision that made it more difficult for certain people to attain health and safety. A city with people who aren’t healthy is not safe. This means ensuring our children have access to proper health care--including trauma informed care, nourishment, and opportunities that foster development is directly tied to making our city safer. This is how you prevent crime. 

source: Open Budget Baltimore 

source: Open Budget Baltimore 


Baltimore instead chooses to invest heavily in policing rather than the things we know prevent crime. We spend 53% more on policing than we do on schools. 82% more on policing than transportation--when we know access to transportation has proven critical to escaping poverty. 96% more on policing than on recreation. In times of high crime, the narrative of policing being our only option in reducing crime perpetuates this imbalance. In a strong Mayor system like we have, the Mayor is responsible for setting those amounts. The City Council has limited authority to make other advisory recommendations and authorize cuts. . Because Baltimore has a relatively low voter turnout compared to cities of similar size, and our Mayor is often decided during the Democratic Primary among a broad field--it is nearly impossible to elect a Mayor to whom the majority of Baltimoreans cast their ballot. Without a voter mandate, leadership has no incentive to listen to advocates or organized groups of citizens.  

Achieving different outcomes for Baltimore means radically shifting how we invest our tax dollars. That type of leadership is politically risky. We have not elected a politically risky Mayor, and our chances of doing so in the near term due to the nature of our elections is unlikely. It’s why as a city we must seriously consider shifting how we budget. Revising our City Charter so that City Council has more authority could lead to the the type of innovation necessary to evoke change. This was something discussed last year, but was a political non starter. With the new crop of younger, more progressive council members, perhaps it’s time to revisit. 

While the people that ride bikes in the city are incredibly diverse, the ones directly engaged in bike advocacy are less so. This means that relative to the city, the people we reach most with our blog or social media posts are likely wealthier, better educated and have better health. It is out of that privilege and the incredible compassion that comes from experiencing this city that we love up close from our bike that we must approach these complex situations with mindfulness. We aren't the right people to lead on this issue, but we are able to lift up the work of others and ensure we are not contributing to further harm. No one of us is directly responsible for the trauma and disparity that exists right now in Baltimore, but we all can do more as citizens to fight for things that help bring stability, health and safety to all of our neighborhoods. 

New Police Deployment Begins Today on Guilford and Mt. Royal

In response to a recent uptick in assaults on people walking and biking in the Greenmount West neighborhood, Baltimore City Police have issued an order for increased police coverage for the next thirty days. Bikemore has been working closely with Baltimore City Police for months to bring awareness to this public safety issue, and are pleased to have seen a lot of engagement and action on their part in the past few weeks. You can view the new deployment plan below. 


We have also learned that arrests have been made this week in connection to a recent assault of a Greenmount West resident that was caught on video. It is believed those responsible were also involved in the recent assaults of people riding bicycles. 

Public safety is a critical element of a healthy, livable neighborhood. And while the issue of public safety is so much bigger than bikes, Bikemore has an important role to play in demanding our neighborhoods be safe places to walk and bike. 

As bike riders, it is important we take the time to report incidents of assault or attempted assault. Creating a record of a pattern of violence is critical to getting resources directed to the neighborhoods that need them. We recognize that response wait time, treatment by officers, or the fact that many of the perpetrators are youth may cause some to decide not to report these incidents. Add to that the complication of often having to report a crime in a different district than where the crime took place because that bike rider rode to safety, and reporting can seem fruitless. But after weeks of meetings, the major take away we at Bikemore heard is that we have to report to get the resources we need. 

Some important things to keep in mind if you are ever a victim of an assault or attempted assault: 

1. Ride to a safe place

2. Call 911 and request to report an assault. 

3. Note the responding officers names. Write it down. Also request your incident number so you can reference it later when requesting a copy of your police report. 

4. If the responding officers are not treating you with respect, or it appears they are not actually taking a written report (good indicators include not asking for your name, being dismissive of charges, offering unhelpful advice like telling you not to ride alone or at night) you have the right to request that a supervisor come to the scene and take your report. If you don't feel comfortable doing this at the time, document their name and badge number and communicate this information to Bikemore. We can alert supervisors and demand retraining of patrol officers that do not take these assaults seriously.  

5. Seek support from the bike community. Being a victim of assault can be traumatizing. Ask friends to ride with you for a few days until you regain your comfort biking alone. Don't put a time limit on how long it might take you to feel comfortable riding again--it's a personal choice. Seek professional counseling if the trauma becomes too much to handle on your own. 

As a community we need to support and embrace our bike riding youth. We need to be able to parse out the differences from children riding bikes, and children prone to committing crimes while riding bikes. We have to work diligently to give our city's youth viable alternatives to crime and violence. We need to speak up when conversations about violence turn into coded conversations about race and class. We need to support organizations whose mission is to directly support youth in our city. 

This is not an issue that has an easy solution, but we are committed to remaining engaged with neighbors, police, and lawmakers as a partner working toward improved safety of all neighborhoods in Baltimore. 

Ride safe. 

Sharing the Road with Buses in Baltimore

Today, a video is making the rounds on the internet of a person on a bike being passed too closely by a Charm City Circulator bus. We are choosing to share and make our public comment here, as a local news outlet has already picked up the story. When Bikemore first learned of the video, we immediately alerted Baltimore City Department of Transportation that operates Charm City Circulator. We got an immediate response from the city notifying us that officials at Transdev, the contractor that operates the circulator and trains and employs the drivers, had been contacted. We are confident that both the City of Baltimore and Transdev are taking this incident seriously, and we look forward to receiving a full report of actions taken to ensure these type of incidents do not occur again.

As people who ride bikes in the city, getting passed too closely by a bus, whether it is a city operated Circulator, Maryland Transit Administration bus, or a college shuttle is a frequent occurrence. As bicyclists, we have full rights to the road, but in Maryland that means riding your bike as far to the right of the road as practicable, except in certain cases, including where lane widths are too narrow that it would be unsafe to share the lane with another vehicle side by side. Which incidentally, frequently creates a conflict between bicyclists riding closely to bus stops, and bus operators trying to meet their schedules and pick up and load passengers in a timely manner.

While Baltimore City and Maryland Transit Authority have taken major steps to ensure that people on bikes are accommodated and considered, there is still more work to be done. It is clear in the video, that despite being trained by Transdev on how to operate a bus safely, particularly around people on bikes, that the culture shift on an individual level required to ensure that all people in the roadways are treated with care still has a ways to go.

We know that not every driver operates this way, but given the pressures of on time performance, it is not surprising that some operators may become resentful when a person on a bike is traveling more slowly in the right lane and as a result feel pressure to make unsafe decisions.

At Bikemore, our hope is to continue to work with these agencies to ensure their training is up to date given the increased presence of people who bike on the roads. We believe that as a whole, these agencies recognize the value and necessity of these trainings, and are striving to ensure their drivers maintain a culture of safety.

But what we also see in the video is a complete misunderstanding of Maryland law by their employee. People who ride bikes have a  right to operate in the roadway. And if, as a person operating a motor vehicle, you would like to pass them, it is the law that you are required to give them a minimum of three feet passing distance. While we work to educate all people who operate motor vehicles on roadways the proper ways to safely share the road with people who bike, it is the commercial drivers that should be held to a higher standard. They receive specialized training, and should exhibit a professional demeanor, especially in situations that the person driving may find inconvenient. The risks are real, and the consequences can be deadly. No amount of on time performance should supersede the value of a human life.

Roadway design solutions exist, and the City should work to implement these designs in corridors that contain both a high volume of bus routes and people on bikes. Transit agencies that train drivers should maintain that passing vulnerable road users safely takes priority over on time performance. As seen in this video, the person on the bike was able to very quickly catch up to the bus at a stop, which leads us to believe, that had the bus simply decelerated and waited for the person on a bike to pass the bus stop rather than pass them so closely, on time performance would not have been compromised and that both the passengers on the bus and the person on a bike would have been able to continue to travel safely and efficiently.

Somehow as people, a culture where we value our own ability to maintain high speeds on urban streets has trumped the safety of those with whom we share the road. That needs to change. And hopefully, as we move forward our network of professionally trained drivers that work in Baltimore can lead by example.

If you experience an instance of unsafe driving by an operator of Charm City Circulator bus, the city requests you report it via their website at or their customer service line 410.350.0456. Be sure to note the bus ID located on the front exterior panel of the bus on both the driver and passenger sides.

For MTA, please report to For MTA, it is easier to Identify the driver if you capture the Route, Time, and “Block Number” located on the front of the bus.

Block Numbers on MTA Buses help to identify the driver in the case of reporting an incident. 

Block Numbers on MTA Buses help to identify the driver in the case of reporting an incident. 

As people who bike, it is also extremely important that we exercise caution when riding near busses. In this video, it is clear that the person riding the bike is operating safely. But it is important to remember that as people on bikes, we should be passing busses on the left, and give them a wide berth so we can be certain we are visible outside of their blind spots. And if you experience an incident, we encourage those riding to document and report. It can be terrifying to be passed closely, but maintaining composure and taking the appropriate steps to report will keep everyone safe and ensure your complaint is taken seriously. And remember, if safe to do so, you can and should take the lane to encourage vehicles to either decelerate and wait or pass safely in the adjacent lane. 

Folks should also know, that at the invitation of the MTA, Bikemore is involved in a project to create additional resources for both transit operators and people on bikes to increase the culture of safety.

We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with the various agencies that operate busses throughout the city to ensure the safety of all road users, be it bus operators, passengers, pedestrians or people on bikes.