March 27, 2014

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM
Brown Center, Room 320 (1301 W Mt Royal Ave)

Darcy Accardi, Kate Anderson, Demetria Barrett, Elizabeth Briscoe, Robin Budish, Scott Burkholder, Celeste Chavis, Amber Collins, Kelly Cross, Caitlin Doolin, Collins Downing, Peter Duvall, Kathy Epstein, Ben Groff, Paulo Gregory Harris, Robbyn Lewis, Benoit Mayaux, Chris Merriam, Brian O’Malley, Wally Pinkard, Jeremy Pomp, Jimmy Rouse, Greg Smith, Jill Sorensen, Sandy Sparks, Maris St. Cyr, Yolanda Takesian, Michael Walk

Moderator: Wally Pinkard, World Trade Center Institute
Wally welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. He then introduced and turned the meeting over to Valorie LaCour, Chief Transportation Planning, Baltimore City.

Presentation: Valorie LaCour, Chief Transportation Planning Baltimore City
Topic: “Complete Streets in Baltimore and Beyond”

  • Valorie began her presentation by sharing that she is a resident of the city and a choice transit rider.
  • Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.
  • Baltimore has adopted a Complete Streets policy and is committed to improving the vitality of the city. The ideal policy :
    • Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets.
    • Specifies that ‘all users’ include pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses and automobiles.
    • Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.
    • Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high-level approval of exceptions.
    • Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes.
    •  Is adoptable by all agencies to cover all roads.
    • Directs the use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines while recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs.
    • Directs that Complete Streets solutions will complement the context of the community.
    • Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
    • Includes specific next steps for implementation of the policy.
  • Baltimore is considered to be one of the 10th most walkable cities in the country based on the following criteria:
    • Transit based (public transportation, cars, bikes and feet)
    • Pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods
    • Walkability (areas that are safe, comfortable, interesting)
  • A good chunk of our economy and economic base (approximately 24%) comes from freight and freight trucks. Truck and pedestrian traffic in the city can coexist peacefully.
Discussion Points:
  • Robbyn Lewis, a resident of Patterson Park gave kudos to Mark Brown (former Project Manager Baltimore City Department of Transportation) for his outstanding efforts with the Southeast Baltimore Complete Streets Plan and cited that both the community plan and process was a great success. Valorie LaCour responded that Betty Smoot has replaced Mark at the Department of Transportation. Valorie will bring Betty up to speed on the project and ask her to make a presentation to the Patterson Park community.
  • Peter Duvall raised the question about the Department of Transportation (DOT) working with the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP) on rolling out complete streets in and around Penn Station. Valorie LaCour responded that both entities will work together to ensure that all street related projects are done at the same time to avoid having to dig up the street around Penn Station at various intervals which would cause turmoil for the community.
  • Caitlin Doolin remarked that as we continue to look at Complete Streets, we must not overlook the importance of having sidewalks and intersections ADA accessible for people to be able to walk to stores and entertainment venues. Walk Score is a great website ( which provides valuable information on “Living Where You Love” such as “What’s Nearby” (view neighborhood restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, schools, parks and more), “Transportation Choices” (get a commute report and see options for getting around by car, bus, bike and foot) and “Local Insight” (see what locals are saying, ask questions, browse nearby photos and popular places.)
  • Jimmy Rouse thanked Valorie LaCour for her informative presentation and acknowledged the DOT for their spirit and cooperative nature to work with the Transit Choices group.

Presentation: Kelly Cross and Paulo Gregory Harris, Transit Choices
Topic:  “The Vision for Transit Choices Guiding Principles”

  • Vision to Reality – Two Concrete Steps
    1. What do the Guiding Principles look like in reality to implement in the streets of Baltimore? It is imperative that the public understand the overall vision/goal of the Guiding Principles for buy in and support.
    2. In order to get Complete Streets implemented a recommendation was made to pick a series of high profile intersections in areas throughout the City to make examples of Complete Streets. High-impact/low cost–intersection conversions can be done for $50K to $200K.
  •  Streetcar Prototype:
    • A longer-term implementation strategy of 3-5 years.
    • Picking a high-traffic/highly visible route to implement a prototype of streetcar service.
    • A project in the $20M – $30M range.
    • Connecting Penn North Metro station to the intersection of Broadway and North Avenue.
Discussion Points:
  • Kelly Cross and Paulo Gregory Harris: in partnership with the city, pick neighborhoods and communities that are being neglected by reliable, efficient mass transportation. We need to pay attention to all folks, not just those along the Charles Street corridor. A streetcar prototype from North Avenue to Broadway was suggested because transit is underserved along North Avenue.
  • Robbyn Lewis expressed her enthusiasm about the “Quick Hits” recommendations because they are small interventions that can produce and engage neighborhoods on the verge of change, and voted Patterson Park for a “test” case. Additionally, Robbyn stated that streetcars are a fantastic idea, citing “H” street in Washington, D.C. and urged the group to think about an inclusive design process by creating an advisory group and engaging the business community.
  • Paulo Gregory Harris recommended that the group think through the economic development aspect of what streetcars can bring to a city. Working with communities/neighborhoods early to make internal preparations is important and could turn North Avenue into a thriving black community.
  • Chris Merriam expressed that although he does not oppose the streetcar, the priority should be the implementation of Complete Streets.
  • Celeste Chavis supported the exploration of a streetcar prototype model.

Discussion: Jimmy Rouse, Transit Choices
Topic: “Next Steps for Transit Choices Work Groups”

  • Members of Transit Choices will be meeting quarterly with Khalil, Zaied (Director of Operations Mayor’s Office), William Johnson (Director CityDOT), Robert Smith (Administrator & CEO MTA) and Danyell Diggs (Special Assistant to the Secretary MDOT). Monthly, meetings will be held with the agency staff to further discuss the implementation of the “Quick Hits” list.
    • The job ahead for the five modal work groups is to be working on a longer term vision. There is plenty of work to do and Jimmy is delighted to have everyone involved because we are an inclusive group.
    • All work groups need to develop a vision for how each mode would fit into an integrated transit system.
  • The Rail Transit work group will look at their list of “Quick Hits” to give both the City and State specific recommendations for implementation. Additionally, the group will explore a longer range vision to integrate all modes of rail transit which will include working with the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance (CMTA) to discuss regional transportation to Towson, White Marsh and Columbia. The ultimate goal is to work collaboratively, rather than silos.
  • Land use and economic development are important topics for discussion. A separate sub-group should be created to think through innovative ideas.
Discussion Points:
  • Jeremy Pomp: car share is a component of every mode of transit, and should be accessible. Bike share hubs near car share hubs could create multi-modal transit opportunities.
  • Yolanda Takesian made the point that economic development as it relates to the “Quick Hits” is important. Further, regarding “Complete Streets” we should take an intersection and make improvements to create high visibility.
  • Paulo Gregory Harris Paulo suggested that each work group look at opportunities for car and bike share maintenance to promote community economic development. The maintenance work should be done in the city to open up jobs, both locally and regionally.
Other Business:
  • Benoit Mayaux asked about the next steps for the Vision Guiding Principles. It was agreed that Kelly Cross would organize a meeting to talk through the Principles unitarily to come up with revised language for the document.