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Dorsey introduces 'complete streets' bill to push bike lanes, public transit in Baltimore

Dorsey introduces 'complete streets' bill to push bike lanes, public transit in Baltimore
Ryan Dorsey, center, pictured at his swearing in, has introduced new "complete streets" legislation. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

City Councilman Ryan Dorsey has introduced new "complete streets" legislation aimed at forcing the city's transportation department to provide more bike lanes, sidewalks and public transit options.

The legislation states that the agency must "to the greatest extent possible, promote walking, biking, and public transit" and "ensure equity by eliminating health, economic, and access disparities."

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In introducing the legislation Monday, Dorsey told fellow council members that city government has for too long prioritized car travel over other forms of transportation. But, he argued, many in the poorer neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore have no access to an automobile.

"We have communities in which 70 and 80 percent of households lack access to cars, but we use our public resources … primarily for cars," he said. "This bill is about building a Baltimore City that works for everybody who lives in it."

The legislation would create a "Complete Streets Coordinating Council" to oversee the bill's mandates. It also requires the city to track whether officials are adequately addressing the transportation needs of Baltimoreans of all races and income levels.

A majority of the City Council have signed on as co-sponsors of Dorsey's bill. It comes as the Pugh administration reviews bike lanes and parking spaces around Baltimore to make sure city streets have enough room for fire equipment to pass.

The review was launched after residents on Potomac Street in Canton complained a new protected bike lane there made the street too narrow for firetrucks. City officials and cycling advocates are working on a plan to preserve the bike lane while retaining parking spaces and ensuring emergency vehicles can fit down the street.

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