Complete Streets Ordinance Justification

Baltimore City Council passed a Complete Streets resolution years ago. Baltimore City Department of Transportation has an internal Complete Streets policy. So why do we need an ordinance? Because our city clearly doesn't follow these existing policies, we must legislate a mandate. The below policy paper outlines the need for an enforceable Complete Streets ordinance and the many benefits that such an ordinance will deliver the city. The examples below that highlight particular design controls within the bill, and how they are aligned with best practices in Complete Streets.

Design Guidance

The Baltimore Complete Streets Ordinance contains several design mandates, including language mandating certain lane widths, design vehicles, and design speed controls for streets. This language is pulled from national best practices, including Baltimore City's own already adopted design guidance from the National Association of City Transportation Officials. This design guidance is mandated in the ordinance because despite these standards already being adopted by Baltimore City Department of Transportation internally, they are not enforced.


Lane Width

Baltimore currently defaults to 12 foot travel lanes. The ordinance calls for 9 foot travel lanes on local streets, 10 foot travel lanes on collector and arterial streets, and allows for a single 11 foot lane in each direction on designated truck and transit routes, consistent with NACTO guidance.


Design Vehicle

Baltimore currently uses and 18-wheeler as their default design vehicle. The ordinance calls for using the design vehicles recommended by the latest NACTO guidance. This includes a smaller vehicle for local streets, and appropriately sized vehicles for commercial corridors, truck routes, and transit routes.