Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Baltimore County legislation to create a Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and pass Complete Streets and other hefty requirements

Update: Councilman Oliver of Baltimore County District 4 is on board with the legislation. This makes sense because his was the only Council office who had a council staff member participate on the advisory committee for the Western Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning process. That's 5 votes...

The middle part of this entry is reprinted from the Bike Baltimore blog, which is written "unofficially" by Baltimore City bicycle planner Nate Evans. Nate lives in Baltimore County, Maryland, where the County Council is considering legislation (Bill 2-11) which would create a Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and charge the committee with oversight over implementation of Complete Streets and other policies designed to improve infrastructure and programming for walking and biking in the county.

The bill not only creates the Committee, but outlines the adoption of polices and practices:

(1) Adopt a complete streets policy to establish guiding principles and practices to be considered in transportation, parks, schools, and other capital projects and land use planning, so as to increase safety and by enhancing understanding of bicycle and pedestrian laws, and to encourage walking, biking, and transit use while promoting safe operations for all users;

(2) Develop sustainable transportation protocols for walking, bicycling, and transit to use in the evaluation of projects and site plan approvals by county agencies. Such protocols should specifically ensure that sign-off for pedestrian and bicycle improvements are incorporated into the review checklist for street improvement, widening and resurfacing projects;

(3) Recommend a method to modify the process for creating community plans to include a "sustainable transportation" element as a standard section, covering walking, bicycling, and transit;

(4) Prepare and maintain a "SIX-YEAR PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE PLAN PROGRAM" to coincide with the capital improvement plan six-year/Annual update cycle in order to maximize opportunities to incorporate improvements into CIP projects where feasible.

(5) Recommend amendments to the County Code and the Zoning Regulations to require necessary accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists, and all users of county streets and roads.

(6) Develop a policy requiring the provision of bicycle parking at major government buildings, including schools, parks, recreation centers, libraries, senior centers, community centers and health facilities, for both visitors and employees.

(7) Recommend amendments to the county development process to incorporate new standards for road construction/reconstruction that will respect and accommodate the needs of all users, not only motorists, without imposing unrealistic financial burdens on county taxpayers.

that, if passed, would put Baltimore County at the forefront in the State of Maryland (and amongst all jurisdictions regionally) in terms of progressive sustainable transportation planning practice and implementation.

County Bill 2-11 Work Session

Today, I was joined by Carol Silldorff of Bike Maryland and Charlie Murphy to testify in support of Baltimore County Council Bill 2-11 which will create the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. This legislation was introduced by David Marks (District 5) and Tom Quirk (District 1) to “rebalance the signficance and role of streets and roads within the County’s communities so that they serve the nees of all transportation users.”
This bill also provides for:
  • restriping roads when being resurfaced or reconstructed
  • creating a citizen group to work with county agencies
  • adopt a complete streets policy
  • develop sustainable transportation protocols
  • prepare and maintain a 6-year pedestrian and bike program that coincides with the Capital Improvement Program
  • recommend amendments to the county code
  • develop a bike parking policy for county government buildings
  • incorporate new standards for road construction and reconstruction
This is a very legitimate plan similar to what Baltimore City has undergone over the past 3 years. Yet, some county council members are not convinced this is a good idea.
If you live in the county, specifically the 4th, 6th and 7th Districts, please contact your council member and support Bill 2-11. Not sure what district you live in? Check it out here
Bill 2-11 is up for vote next Monday, February 7th!!

Like Charlie said, “This bill is about us. It’s about our kids and our grandkids”

From me:

District 4 includes places like Randallstown and Lochearn, and is in west county. Districts 6 and 7 are in east county and include places like Essex, Dundalk, and Middle River.

District 4 -- Council Member Kenneth Oliver (incumbent)
District 6 -- Council Member Cathy Bevins
District 7 -- Council Member John Olszewski (incumbent)

Note that in each of these districts, there are a fair number of pedestrian accidents.

Plus, the death of the high school girl from Middle River on the Amtrak tracks occurred in District 7 in January 2010, which Michael Dresser also wrote about here and in columns and other follow up pieces.

But there are also many pedestrian accidents in District 4, and a great clamoring for sidewalks by residents there. There was a death

Annually, there are many dozens of pedestrian accidents in every district. And sadly, there was the death of a bicyclist, Larry Bensky, in District 3 last April, which led to the passage of the 3 foot passing law by the Maryland State Legislature.

Often when "bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees" are created the pedestrian issues can be seen as secondary. In a suburban county, where the mobility network is focused on the car, the pedestrian is shortchanged as much as bicyclists and pedestrian issues must be front and center, co-equal to biking issues.

In advance of next Monday's vote, the Baltimore County Councilmembers in Districts 4, 6, and 7 need to be reminded of these incidents and the importance of rebalancing the mobility network to serve all users, and how creating a pedestrian and bicycle advisory committee in Baltimore County will bring that about--especially given the strength of the charge for the committee.

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