Baltimore is behind in biking

As a bicycle commuter and parent of children who walk to school, I have been involved in and advocating for improved bike and pedestrian access in this city since moving here nearly nine years ago. Unfortunately, during that time, little progress has been made toward transforming this city to what it could become, a haven for safe, healthy, sustainable transportation ("Lagging behind other cities, Baltimore moves toward better bike lanes," Jan. 19).

As your article notes, a modest step toward that goal — the Maryland Avenue Cycle Track — appears to be moving forward. It was also noteworthy that our mayor finally made a comment positive toward improving bicycling infrastructure, although it was more than two weeks after the tragic death of Thomas Palermo in Roland Park who had similarly spent many years helping to advocate for bicycling in Baltimore. I ask that she follow her comments with even stronger action.


This track and the related Downtown Bicycle Network have been in the planning stages for many years and still require further approvals, so we are not there yet. In similar and larger cities, their respective mayors determined bike lanes were essential to maintaining and attracting a diverse and young talent pool and made them happen. Washington, New York, Chicago, Boston and now even Pittsburgh have leapt past Baltimore in this category. If the mayor's true goal is to grow this city's population and to encourage young families to move here, she will make bike lanes a top priority, rather than allow several years of planning and effort languish in City Hall.

The ability to move throughout this city safely by walking or biking are numerous and include:

•A strong desire by young professionals and families to live in an urban environment;

•A similar but growing tendency by that same segment of the population to not own a car;

•The need for companies such as my own and others to recruit and retain talent to and in Baltimore;

•The need to provide safe transportation for my and other children to their schools, after-school activities and areas of commerce and congregation;

•An opportunity to provide cheap or free regular transit from areas of the city less served by public transportation;

•A direct way to reduce emissions from cars and other vehicles, helping to clean one of this country's most polluted cities.

Programs such as the Charm City Circulator show that this city can help rethink transportation without significant spending and by leveraging existing infrastructure and state and federal subsidies and grants. Roland Avenue is also in line to get its own cycle track as part of the ongoing repaving project, something community leaders had been asking for since 2009. In this paper last fall ("Plank says city must lose 'chip on our shoulder,'" Nov. 2), Under Armour, a key growth engine for this city and region, "encourages its employees to live in the neighborhood and to walk, bike, or take a water taxi to" work.

I am certain similar opportunities abound in the biking and walking arenas that could help continue this city's transformation to both a desirable East Coast hub and model sustainable city. It just takes a little leadership.

Peter B. Rosenthal, Baltimore