Do you use a bicycle for transportation? If so, for what purposes and how often, and what was your last trip by bicycle?
Rushern Baker: I do not use a bicycle for daily transportation. However, my running mate, Elizabeth Embry has commuted to work by bicycle in Baltimore City and recently bicycled with Attorney General Brian Frosh into DC for the March for Our Lives. While I do not bike very frequently, I am an avid runner. I recently ran the Frederick Half Marathon and plan to run the Baltimore 10-miler in a few weeks.
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.: Yes, I use a bicycle for transportation. While I typically do not use a bicycle for my commute to Annapolis, my family and I do use bicycles for recreation. My husband and my two children and I sometimes use bicycles on weekends, when we are at the beach or on family trips to see the areas we are visiting. My last trip by bicycle was last summer when my family and I were on vacation at the beach. Since that time, given the very full schedule of my campaign for Governor, I have not been able to bike with my family as often as we would like.
Jim Shea: I do not use a bicycle for transportation, although I have recreationally. My daily commute is too long to use a bicycle, but I fully support the cause of giving bicycle commuters the infrastructure they need.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah: I used to ride to work more often, before my daughter was born, but more recently it's been for recreation. My husband and I rode about 10 miles this weekend on roads that had no separation and were not sufficiently safe.
Do you use public transportation? If so, for what purpose and how often, and what was your last trip by public transportation?
Rushern Baker: As county executive, I’m afforded security detail. However, when I travel outside of the state I often use trains and public transportation.
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.: Yes. I use public transportation, especially Metro, to travel from my home in Montgomery County to meetings and sporting events and other activities in downtown DC and then to travel back home. My last trip by public transportation was on Saturday, March 24 to attend the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.
Jim Shea: Yes, I do use public transportation. For years, I spent my time growing my law firm in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. I routinely use public transportation when I travel between the two cities and when I am traveling in Washington, D.C. One of the largest problems with Baltimore’s public transportation system is that it does not provide a quick and reliable service to Marylanders. That limits the viability of public transportation in the region, and fixing this problem will be one of my highest priorities.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah: I grew up on public transit and still use it multiple times a week to get to meetings and events. My last trip on transit was earlier today on the Metro from Shady Grove to Bethesda for a meeting and two days ago I was on the Camden line from College Park to make a meeting downtown that I would have missed if I'd been stuck on 95 or 295.
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?
Rushern Baker: Across Maryland counties, cities, and towns are recognizing the immense benefits of creating communities where residents can easily bike and walk for both transportation and recreation. Bicycle Master Plans like those in Baltimore City, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and the City of Salisbury are providing a model for counties across Maryland who want to make their communities bikeable and walkable.
First, I would increase funding for the Maryland Bikeways Program, the only program funded through the State's budget, by at least $1 million per year each year for the next 4 years. The Maryland Bikeways program provides state funding to expand bicycle facilities in communities across Maryland. Funds can be used for a variety of projects including connecting existing bikeways to shopping, employment, and transit, and bike-sharing programs. This year’s grants, totaling $20 million, are comprised of approximately $2M of state funding and $18M of federal funds. 2017 Projects included key regional trail connections funding for bike racks, installing bike routes using shared arrows, and designing future projects.
The Hogan Administration has reduced the Bikeways program from $2.7 million in 2015 to $2.1 million in 2017. An additional 600,000 would have funded up to 20 additional projects.
During my two terms as Prince George's County Executive, we have made significant strides in increasing opportunities for residents to use bicycles for transportation. Our successes include:
● Improving connections and signage along the Anacostia Trail
● Working with Anne Arundel County to design and begin construction of key bridge over the Patuxent River, the last link of the WB&A Trail.
● Connecting the WB&A to Bowie State University, the Bowie MARC Station, and adjacent communities
● Ensuring that links to metro stations such as Capitol Heights had complete streets
● Connecting communities to 4 metro stations along the Blue Line via the Central Avenue Connector enhance access to alternative modes of transportation, and support safety and mobility along the corridor
● Installing bicycle facilities along the Route 1 corridor.
● Facilitating Bike Share
Prioritizing highway expansion is not a sustainable, long-term solution to our traffic woes. We’ve seen time and time again that more lanes on the highway leads to more cars on the road. What we have to pursue in Maryland is a cultural shift away from single-occupancy vehicles towards mass transit options. Investments in transportation infrastructure must focus on moving the most people as fast as possible, rather than moving the most cars as fast as possible.
As Governor, I will be committed to restoring the balance between all modes of transportation at the Maryland Department of Transportation. I will appoint a Transportation Secretary who sees value in all modes of transportation and understands how affordable transportation is an essential economic development and an economic empowerment tool.
I will create a high-level position in the Governor’s office that will provide essential coordination between the Departments of Transportation, Business, Planning, and Housing and Community Development to incorporate all modes of transportation when state funding is involved in economic and community development. The person in this position will work closely with these agencies to identify and address issues of transportation inequity in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.
I will support legislation that requires the Maryland Department of Transportation to implement complete streets in all programs including the Maryland Transportation Authority including on the new Nice Bridge in Charles County.
I will help communities such as Cromwell and Linthicum which requested law enforcement at their light rail stations to identify economic development opportunities that will provide the catalyst for transit-oriented development at these stations. Such development will increase transit ridership and provide employment opportunities providing a catalyst to improve the surrounding community.
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.: Yes. I support securing funding to implement the recommendations by using a combination of local general funding along with Maryland Department of Transportation Bikeways Grant Funding as well as federal funding from the Transportation Alternatives Programs Grant program.
Jim Shea: Yes, I agree with the master plan and the addendum recommendations. We need to promote complete streets in the city of Baltimore and across the state of Maryland. As Governor, I will work with the biking community, local jurisdictions, and my Transportation Secretary to devise a plan that prioritizes the greatest needs and develops specific timelines, metrics, and accountability standards to expand bike infrastructure, including bike lanes and racks. I will also be a leader on the state-level promoting collaboration and the expansion of infrastructure across the state.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah: The State spends twice as much on roads as we do on transit and bike lanes combined. I commit to balancing this inequity by the end of my first term. This funding change, combined with directing MDOT and MPOs, to focus long-range planning (and federal funding, TIPs etc) on complete streets and transit, are both essential to ensure that there is sufficient coordination among levels of government and sufficient resources to ensure that projects and 17 mile/year milestones, like those laid out in the Addendum, are delivered on time, on budget, to specifications, and with maintenance plans.
As for the specifics, I think the 2017 addendum addressed many of the deficiencies of the 2015 master plan:
--Economic growth: greater focus on equity and connecting low-income areas to areas with greater job opportunities.
--Physical infrastructure: thoughtful approach given existing constraints that connects corridors and fills gaps
--Inclusion: helps ensure that cycling is a viable option for individuals of different ages, experiences, and ability levels).
At the same time, in reading the plan, there are still areas that desperately need projects that were not included and the City still appears to have no plan on how to actually achieve/fund the goal of 17 miles/year milestones. Nonetheless, what Baltimore has put together is still the most comprehensive approach in the state and I will make sure that the City has sufficient resources to implemented it--and I hope to replicate Baltimore's successes across Maryland.
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?
Rushern Baker: The biggest barriers to getting Marylanders to use other modes of transportation are convenience, safety and affordability. Businesses are driving development to places with transportation options as we saw in Amazon’s criteria for their east coast headquarters. Providing these areas will help Maryland grow economically. As Governor, I will incentivize transit-oriented development and mixed-use development.
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.: There are many barriers to mode shift, ranging from personal convenience to time constraints to policies and decisions made by public bodies. Some of the biggest barriers to mode shift which we are able to impact through laws and public policies are the location of housing, the location of jobs and the general layout and design of our roads and cities. In order to address these impediments, as Governor, I would direct the state of Maryland to implement the Complete Streets program and support Plan Maryland to better coordinate the location of our jobs and our housing. I will instruct the Maryland State Highway Administration to vigorously adopt and implement a Complete Streets policy to create roads that are safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. This legislative session I am co-sponsor of the bill to establish the Complete Streets Program in Maryland. I also sponsored the law that extends protection to bicyclists traveling within crosswalks on our roads.
I will utilize all available tools, including use of federal “flex” funding, as well as Plan Maryland to support smart growth, revitalize older communities and increase affordable housing options near job centers and transportation corridors. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s flexible funding programs provide funds for transit related activities based on local planning priorities. A Madaleno administration would seek and utilize available “flex” funds for transit and congestion mitigation improvements. I support Plan Maryland and its goal of sustainable growth and development. As Governor I will determine how best to implement Plan Maryland. Once implemented, it will be important to update it periodically and to review local communities’ success in implementing it.
We need to revitalize our older existing communities and increase affordable housing near job opportunities. These goals have been key priorities for me as demonstrated by my leadership as co-sponsor of the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative Program which provides strategic investment in local housing in Baltimore and provides funding for loans and grants to develop neighborhoods with vacant properties. I championed the Rebuilding Baltimore City Communities Act which increases property tax credits for Baltimore residents. I sponsored a bill to increase community development projects which passed the Senate. These are the types of programs that we must continue to support and develop as we work to increase affordable housing options near our employment centers which in turn will result in greater utilization of public transit and walking and biking options for commuting.
Jim Shea: Currently, the largest barrier to mode-shifting is the fact that Maryland does not present a public transit, biking, or walking option that is more attractive than personal automobiles. At the end of the day, most Marylanders are going to choose the mode of transportation that is the easiest, quickest, and the most reliable. Thus, state and local governments, in conjunction with the federal government, must work to make public transit, walking, and biking more attractive options than driving a car.
In order to do that, state government must devise a statewide transportation plan – one that includes each mode of transportation. Last year, I released my transportation plan for the state of Maryland that is constructed to get Marylanders out of traffic and onto public transportation.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah: I will work to aggressively increase mode shifts by focusing on four strategies: improving safety, increasing speed/efficiency of alternatives, enhancing ease of access, and reducing cost. Right now, we have a pricing structure and a culture, where the public transit option often takes longer and is nearly as expensive as riding a signal passenger vehicle. Every time, we try to cut corners, like replacing the desperately needed Redline with the woefully inferior BaltimoreLink, it's a disaster that frustrates folks just trying to get to work and reduces trust in government.
The only way to overcome this is to make transit service more reliable, more accessible, more frequent, and less expensive. The decision to use transit should not come at the expense of hours of meandering routes and multiple connections. We must make safe, complete streets the model statewide, including incentivizing the reallocation of road space for other modes of transportation. We need to connect the first and last miles with better integration with bikes, buses, ride sharing, or Uber/Lyft. We need to make it cheaper to get to and park at MARC and Metro stations, so folks choose to use transit options and avoid adding congestion to areas with overcapacity roads and/or insufficient parking. We must also look at other ways to incentivize transit use, as well as discourage single passenger vehicle use in congested areas, even if it means tough political calls like traffic calming measures, closed roads, fewer lanes, lower speeds, as have been demonstrated to work across the country and around the world. Also, as we're trying to fix the sins of the past, we must do everything we can to ensure that new development is smarter with more quality transportation alternatives.
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.
Rushern Baker: Traffic-related deaths are a critical problem in Maryland right now. In fact, traffic fatalities have increased by 18% in the past three years. We’ve taken similar best practices for a “Toward Zero” and have started to implement them in Prince George’s County. While this a great first step for the region, the majority of traffic fatalities occur on state roads, so state leadership is absolutely necessary to make progress on this issue.
We have to ensure that existing residents and businesses benefit from the development around the transit hubs and preserve affordable housing options in those communities. That is why I joined County Executive Ike Leggett and University of Maryland President Wallace Loh in signing the Purple Line Corridor Community Compact that lays out four important goals: to support and grow local businesses, to build a thriving labor market, to make affordable housing available and to support vibrant communities.
As County Executive, I have vast experience with transit-oriented development in communities such as Hyattsville, Suitland and New Carrollton. As Governor, I would continue to support transit-oriented development around Metro stations and other mass transit options. I would support policies to increase the supply of market-rate and affordable housing to accommodate the increased demand to live in transit-rich areas, such as Bethesda and Silver Spring.
I strongly support Montgomery County Councilmember Floreen’s bill (34-17) to require housing developments with less than 20 units to contribute to the Housing Initiative Fund to provide money for affordable housing projects in the County. I also applaud the Montgomery County Council’s recent effort on a bill (36-17) to reduce the development impact tax burden on previously approved projects that provide additional dwelling units with at least 25% Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs) in the addition.
I would also work with local zoning authorities to encourage that the development impact fees collected from projects in a Metro Station Policy Area be used for transportation improvements located in the same Metro area or an adjacent planning area. This is key to ensuring that existing residents and businesses in transit-rich areas are able to get around their community efficiently so that they may enjoy the benefits of increased development.
Baltimore City can benefit from the experiences of communities like Hyattsville, Suitland and New Carrollton. Each of these areas, once rundown, are now vibrant communities,, connected to the Washington Metro and the Anacostia Trail providing a lot of transportation choices.
To begin, as Governor I will seek ways to support projects like North Avenue Rising https://northavenuerising.com/ by providing incentives to businesses who choose to relocate near metro stations in Baltimore. Having employment centers in tandem with residential, located near transit is a proven way to get people out of their cars so that they can easily bike, walk, and use transit.
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.: I believe we need to promptly put in place common sense safety proposals designed to ensure the safety of all who use public streets, roads and highways. The Baltimore Region needs a new strategic transportation plan that is based on the Opportunity Collaboratives efforts done through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and HUD. This multi-year effort identifies serious gaps in access to jobs that can provide opportunity for wage growth and a way out of poverty. This plan needs political buy-in from elected officials, business community and citizens. Connecting the region to jobs and opportunities includes better connections and public transportation between Baltimore and Annapolis and Annapolis and DC. The MARC train system needs to run further north and more frequently. Commuter trains can and should be a much more significant option. This approach -- along with the initiatives described in response to other questions in this survey, such as building regional transportation authorities and implementing the Complete Streets program and Plan Maryland -- will help build a healthy, safe and equitable transportation system for Baltimore City.
Jim Shea: Baltimore needs a healthy, safe, and equitable transportation system. The Red Line would have provided a transportation lifeline to those in East and West Baltimore, but it also would have provided the city with a spine upon which other lines or spurs could be built. As Chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, some of the metrics we focused on when analyzing transportation outcomes were commute times and access to jobs. Transportation policy, when done correctly, can connect communities to job centers and create a more equitable society. However, when transportation policy is done poorly, it can isolate communities and further entrench inequality. Walking, biking, and public transportation, as I’ve outlined in my transportation plan, are crucial facets in implementing the vision of a healthy, safe, equitable transportation system.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah: We cannot have a strong Baltimore economy when 30%+ of residents don't have access to a car or basic transportation alternatives to get to work or school. Bikemore has done incredible work raising the consciousness of the need for complete streets and rethinking our infrastructure, but we have to actually make the investments to make the vision a reality--and that's exactly what my administration will do. Expanding walking, biking, and public transportation are all critical components of building a much more vibrant and inclusive economy, improving public safety and public health outcomes, and reducing carbon emissions by 50% by the end of my second term (transportation is now the largest sector of carbon emissions in Maryland).
This is a deeply personal issue. My family fled a civil war and moved to Maryland when I was 9 months old. My parents had no jobs, $200 in their pockets, and two young children in their arms. My father got a job as a Baltimore City School Teacher (he recently retired from Western at the age of 80). We couldn't afford a car, so he would walk half a mile every day to catch the bus on Route 40 to get to work at Edmonson High. If it wasn't for that bus service, we could have been a family on welfare. I share this story because ensuring equitable transportation options is a priority for me rooted in my personal experience, which is why on my first day in office I will sign an Executive Order restarting the Red Line. This project isn't just another transportation project (as Governor Hogan treated it as he redistributed the money to places that voted for him). It's a gateway to opportunity, as are complete streets and other infrastructure projects that expand transportation opportunities for all.
How does transportation fit in your overall plan for a healthy and economically thriving Maryland? Explain your transportation philosophy.
Baker: There is significant evidence that communities that have opportunities for cycling and walking for transportation are healthier. These communities are also growing, desirable communities to live and work. In Maryland, the Marriott Corporation recently announced their move from a suburban office park to downtown Bethesda so that their employees can commute on foot, by bicycle, by transit, or by vehicle. In Baltimore, Under Armor is insisting on the same for their employees. A mix of transportation options is critical to economic development.
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.: As Governor I would build a strong public transportation network which is essential for the economy of our future. I support the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) bus rapid transit project in Montgomery County which would support jobs and ease traffic congestion. In addition, the MARC commuter system must be improved with more frequent service and expansion. I have long supported the Red Line rail transit project to improve transit in Baltimore and the state’s application to receive federal New Starts funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for that project. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan’s abrupt cancellation of the Red Line and his withdrawal of the application for federal funding for it means that the Red Line is no longer in line to receive critical federal funds to build it. As governor I would direct my Department of Transportation to seek to revive the Red Line and determine the most feasible and expeditious means of securing federal and state funding.
I have a strong record of building and ensuring funding for an effective and comprehensive transportation system for Maryland, and of supporting our severely underfunded Metro system. I have been an aggressive supporter and promoter of affordable public transit in Maryland. I co-sponsored a bill to increase funding for our bus systems. I sponsored a bill to assist moving forward with the CCT bus rapid transit project. I introduced and passed the law eliminating the antiquated “farebox recovery rule” and replacing it with real performance metrics so that the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) will fund additional transit projects that should result in transit improvements in Maryland. Most recently, I co-sponsored the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act that now requires transparent decision-making, including project-based scoring, for major transportation projects. This law should result in best uses of our transportation dollars and funding of projects that will provide maximum transportation results and benefits to the state. As governor I would fully implement the law and build a robust and reliable transportation system to serve the state.
I strongly believe that regional transportation authorities are essential for the future of transportation in Maryland. Regional transportation authorities can make decisions as to how best to plan for, fund, operate and maintain our transportation system. By moving from complete state control we could ensure that each region is able to achieve its transportation goals and meet the transportation needs of its people. It will be critical to structure these regional authorities so that they retain a substantial portion of the revenues raised in each region. This would also allow for the regional authority to assume funding responsibility for part of the city’s road network.
Jim Shea: As Governor, transportation will be one of my highest priorities. Updated and efficient transportation infrastructure can connect people to jobs, improve the quality of life, help grow businesses, and attract commerce. As I explained in my transportation plan, infrastructure, along with public education, are the backbone of a flourishing economy.
I believe that the goal of our transportation policy should be to reduce congestion, limit commute times, connect people to other areas of the state, and protect the environment. Widening roads will not fix the problem in the long run. In fact, road widening will only lead to more cars on the road. Instead, we must work to make alternative transportation modes more attractive than driving. To do that, we must invest in additional rail and bus lines, expand the MARC, properly maintain our current infrastructure, particularly the Baltimore Metro, and adhere to a state-wide transportation plan that reduces congestion and connects people to their jobs and schools.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah: I envision a state where every Marylander regardless of income or zip code has true access to multiple safe and healthy transportation options. The segregation of housing and jobs--combined with the lack of transportation options to cross that chasm--prevents hundreds of thousands of Marylanders from fulfilling their economic potential. It's a root cause of poverty, crime, and the lack of opportunity and upward mobility. Transportation options and infrastructure are inherently a public good that only government can deliver--and one our state has failed at miserably for decades with a mindset and budget priorities that reflect the 1950s more than 2020.
Under my administration, equitable transportation solutions will be at the heart of my economic development, public safety, environmental, and public health agendas. I want Maryland to lead the nation in innovative multi-modal transportation solutions, not continue with the stigma of one of the most congested states in the nation. By the end of my first term, I want to ensure that walking, biking, and transit are greater budgetary and policy priorities than passenger vehicles and that every Marylander can get to work or to school in an safe and efficient manner.
This candidate survey is run by Bikemore In Action, Bikemore's 501c4 advocacy arm.