from Charm City Current by Adam Meister
The following Light Street Cycles Facebook post speaks for itself. I have no idea why Belinda Conaway would want to get rid of a functional asset in a poor community. It does not seem very logical (like another decision of hers).
“A letter sent to City Council Representatives, DOT, and leaders in my communities:
This has been an interesting first month for me as the Interim Chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in Baltimore. On the day that I volunteered to fill in, I discovered that the City had just installed a new bike lane. This bike lane is on Monroe St. It is nicely done, provides a safe exit from the Target store, leaves plenty of room for car traffic…and is scheduled to be removed.
Let’s look at what other interesting facts came to light during this past month:
Baltimore’s air quality is abysmal. According to a recent Environment America report, the Baltimore metro area is one of the smoggiest metropolitan areas of the country.
Additionally, Baltimoreans are some of the most dangerous drivers in the country. In the 2011 Allstate Best Drivers Report, Baltimore ranked 2nd to last in safe drivers for the second year in a row.
Now remember that a large portion of our population does not have access to a car – about 32%, according to a 2005 report by the Abell Foundation. Six years later and three years into a recession, and the need for safe, affordable transportation for low and middle income residents such as those in the Monroe St. area is growing.
The Councilwomen demanding to have the bike lane removed, Belinda Conaway, is acting in direct contradiction to a recent City Council Resolution known as “Complete Streets,” which requires the City’s DOT to, when possible, make a street bike and pedestrian safe when repaving is done. She is circumventing a Resolution that she herself co-sponsored.
Councilwoman Conaway has succeeded in convincing the Baltimore Department of Transportation to circumvent the Council resolution she co-sponsored just last year. Baltimore’s current air quality is unsafe, and bike lanes will encourage people to drive less, thus reducing emissions and improving the health of everyone in the city. Bike lanes do exactly what car lanes do – help prevent accidents by separating the traffic, and this lane is being removed in the face of a report telling us that Baltimore is 192nd out of 193 major cities in the U.S. with respect to safe driving. Not only do young, energetic people and environmentally concerned citizens want to bike commute, but some of our residents have very little choice economically. At present, all of these individuals, throughout the socio-economic spectrum, are risking serious injury just to get to work, school, or the grocery store.
Whether by choice or necessity, more people are bicycling in Baltimore. They have a right to do so safely. The cycling community worked to get City Council to agree to Complete Streets, only to see Council abandon the Resolution rather than stand up for the underserved. Bike commuters in Baltimore include fathers and mothers, students, teachers, doctors, waiters, IT specialists, state’s attorneys, construction workers, business owners, professional athletes, the underemployed, and the homeless. Bicyclist fatalities from car accidents in the Baltimore metro region in recent years have included a retired grandfather, a Hopkins engineering student, a 13-year-old child, the owner of a construction company, and a Green Party politician. City Council needs to support it’s own resolution on Complete Streets. We need our city government to lead us with a clean, healthy, progressive vision for the future – not just coast along aimlessly on this issue. Otherwise, in the future, we will continue burying more than just our City’s prospects for growth and prosperity.
Penny Troutner, Interim Chair, Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee
City resident, 3rd Council District
Business owner, 10th Council District