The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, has recognized Councilman Ryan Dorsey’s new Complete Streets Bill as one of the 12 best Complete Streets initiatives of 2017.
The bill, drafted by Councilman Ryan Dorsey and advocacy organization Bikemore, prioritizes the safety of all people using Baltimore’s streets over the speed of moving cars. Complete Streets often have slower speed limits, wide sidewalks and crosswalks, protected bike lanes, bus lanes and shelters, and beautification like trees and plantings. The Baltimore bill also contains several equity-focused provisions intended to address the disparities created by decades of structurally racist and car-oriented road design.
“Passing a comprehensive Complete Streets policy that centers equity is a key component Bikemore’s strategy,” says Bikemore Executive Director Liz Cornish. “Complete Streets is about so much more than bikes, and it’s past time we as a city commit to a policy that improves the health, safety, and mobility of all Baltimore residents. We are honored to have our work recognized by Smart Growth America, even as we recognize that work is just really beginning.”
Smart Growth America recognized Baltimore’s new policy for its focus on equity, implementation and accountability. “After scoring and rating America’s best complete policies for more than five years, we revised our criteria this year to reflect new lessons, particularly the importance of focusing on implementation and equity. We are impressed with the work Councilman Dorsey and Bikemore have done and are happy to feature the Baltimore bill as a leader in these emerging focus areas,” said Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition (a program of Smart Growth America).
Currently, Baltimore City has a Complete Streets resolution, passed in 2010, but that resolution non-binding and is often ignored. Beginning early in 2017, Councilman Dorsey and Bikemore began work building a coalition around Complete Streets, visiting with more than 50 neighborhood groups, and local, state, and national advocacy groups to discuss Complete Streets. The Bill’s first hearing, planned for the Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing on March 21, was cancelled due to snow and has been rescheduled tentatively for April 25 at 5:00PM. The hearing will be televised on Charm TV.
“If we truly wish to improve quality of life for all City residents, we need policies that prioritize disinvested communities and fundamentally change how we engage residents in the transportation planning process,” says Councilman Dorsey. “I’m happy that our work in Baltimore is being recognized. We are proud of it and look forward to working with Mayor Pugh, Council President Young, and my colleagues on the Council to pass and implement Complete Streets. However, legislation is just a start.”
“The real work of getting this bill passed is just beginning. Communities need to have ownership over the legislative process,” Dorsey continued, “for us that means conducting our own outreach with communities that are most directly affected by transportation disparities.”
In addition to being recognized by Smart Growth America, the Baltimore Complete Streets team was selected to present at the National Complete Streets Coalition’s second annual conference, called Intersections: Creating Culturally Complete Streets in Nashville, TN on April 3-4.