What are we advocating for?
We're advocating that the new legislation be specific and measurable. Here are a few of the requirements in the proposed new legislation (none of which were in the original legislation):
Mandate a “modal hierarchy” of pedestrians first, followed by transit riders, bicyclists, automobiles, and parking. Simply put, the bill will require design to prioritize people who walk, bike, or take transit over people in private automobiles.
Mandate use of the latest urban design standards over the dated manuals currently in use.
Remove the “Motor Vehicle Level of Service” standard, and apply “Multi-Modal Level of Service” methodology, if a level of service standard is used at all. This means adding bike lanes, reducing travel lanes, and making other pedestrian, transit, and bicycle improvements won’t be thrown out of consideration due to potential delays for individuals in personal vehicles.
Mandate travel lane widths at a maximum of 10 feet, except on mapped transit and truck routes, where lane widths may be 11 feet. Many roads in Baltimore have lane widths wider than the standard for highways, which encourages people to drive at higher speeds on these roads. Narrowing the travel lanes will calm traffic and add space for bicycle and walking improvements over time.
Mandate a default design vehicle similar in size to a UPS delivery truck — meaning design streets (that aren't truck or public transit routes) to be optimal for a large delivery van rather than an 18-wheeler. When streets are designed or changed, the city uses a "design vehicle" as the typical road user. Baltimore currently uses a 18-Wheel tractor trailer as the default design vehicle, even on streets where trucks are not permitted. This results in wide travel lanes, soft curbs, and far distances for pedestrian crossings to facilitate truck turns that will never happen on those streets.
Mandate street design that limits visual clutter and remains sensitive to Baltimore's historic character.
While the Complete Streets Bill from 2010 was a step in the right direction, it wasn't specific enough to implement and wasn't made a priority by the administration. This new bill will be a huge step forward for Baltimore, and allow us to catch up to neighboring cities and begin to address the inequity of our roadway planning.