City officials encouraged Baltimoreans to cycle to work, school and other destinations to mark the city’s 25th annual Bike to Work Day on Friday.
Mayor Brandon Scott said at a news conference Friday morning that the city is working to make it easier for residents to get around Baltimore without a car.
“As we celebrate Bike to Work Day, I encourage residents to consider cycling as a viable option for getting to work and wherever else you need to go,” Scott said. “Not to mention, and more importantly, [biking is] a great way to participate in a healthy lifestyle and build community with people in your neighborhood, family and across town.
Quinton Herbert, the city’s director of human resources, touted the benefits of cycling, including reduced annual medical costs, less time away from work due to illness or injury, and increased productivity at work. work.
Cycling to work also helps reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality, city officials said.
Ava Richardson, acting director of the Office of Sustainability, said that during the pandemic, bike purchases have increased nationwide and more and more people are cycling through Baltimore.
And it’s not just bikes that are on the rise. Scooters have also become a popular mode of transportation, according to Jon Laria, chairman of the mayor’s advisory committee on bicycles.
Baltimore has an average of 3,000 scooters on its streets every day, sees about 120,000 scooter rides per month and has had more than 2 million scooter tips since the program launched, Laria said.
“These are for fun and for exercise,” he said. “But in a city with long-standing public transit issues, they are an essential part of our transportation network and therefore critical to job creation and economic development.”
Laria added that Baltimore doesn’t need to persuade its residents to use bicycles, scooters and other forms of transportation; it just has to build the infrastructure to make it safer and more accessible.
“We don’t need to get people to ride bikes,” he said. “People are going to do it on their own. But we all need to provide good cycling facilities on the street and on the paths so people can do it safely.
Richardson said marginalized communities continue to face barriers to cycling.
“As many of us opt for two wheels instead of four or more to get to work, to go to school or to run errands, it is essential that we can do so safely,” said she declared. : The data reflects that cycling infrastructure is not always evenly distributed, making Black and Latino communities more vulnerable to traffic incidents and fatalities.
Nia Reed-Jones and Shaka Pitts co-founded the Baltimore-based organization black people ride bikes in 2019 to provide a welcoming atmosphere for black cyclists.
“There was a void within the cycling community and black neighborhoods that we missed in this conversation,” Reed-Jones said. “We created the organization to make sure our voices were heard.”
At the start of the pandemic, Lanise Stevenson began hosting weekly Tuesday evening bike rides from Lake Druid Hill to Lake Montebello.
Stevenson has partnered with Black People Ride Bikes and other groups “so we can provide people like us the opportunity to come together in an environment that makes them feel welcomed, valued, and supported.”
What started as a community ride of about 50 riders grew into a group of more than 200 riders, including people from surrounding counties and even Pennsylvania and DC, Stevenson said.
Scott said one of his top transportation priorities is completing the Baltimore Greenway System, a 35-mile loop that will connect 75 Baltimore neighborhoods. Of the planned 35 miles of the network, more than 25 miles already exist and the city is working to fill the remaining gaps.
The city’s Department of Transportation is also launching a new website with resources and information on biking, scootering, public transit and carpooling.
Holly Arnold, Administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration, said bicycling and public transit can work together to create a better connected city and region.
“First and foremost, Bike to Work Day exists to encourage people to get out of their cars and onto their bikes,” Arnold said. “But it also represents a great opportunity to show how we can combine cycling and public transit to get more people to more destinations without depending on a car.”
Last June, MTA announced that full-size bikes could be carried on all MARC trains on all three lines at no additional cost to riders.
MTA has also expanded its policy to allow e-bikes and personal e-scooters that weigh less than 50 pounds on all MTA modes of transportation.
MTA has partnered with Baltimore City to install dockless scooter and bike corrals at MTA locations, including 11 corrals as part of the Ascent of North Avenue project and a dozen others that will be added at other stations.
“These help reduce the likelihood of scooters getting in the way of pedestrians, and they allow transit riders to have somewhere to go to access a bike or scooter when they complete a journey they started on public transit,” Arnold said.
MTA also worked with the city to install an open North Avenue bike lane between Maryland Avenue, the North Avenue light rail station and Mt. Royal, “connecting these key pieces of bike infrastructure,” Arnold said.
On Friday, the city government raffled off 10 Trek Marlin bikes and helmets to 10 city employees.
In addition to Friday’s bike-to-work day, Bike-to-work week 2022 took place from May 16 to May 22. Residents who signed up to bike to work this week were able to claim a free t-shirt at any of Baltimore City’s eight pit stops, while supplies lasted.
Scott hopes Baltimore can “grow in our understanding that getting to work or getting where you need to go can only be done by car.”
“We know we need to build better infrastructure in the city, but we also need to dig deep…into the cultures of our communities, especially in our black and brown communities,” he added. “People who ride bikes, people who can be scared, people who just need to learn. We can do this by showing them that they can do it and by going back to the communities to help them.