Baltimore’s New Complete Streets Policy Aims to Promote Racial Equity

The city’s newly passed Complete Streets Ordinance seeks to make streets are safer for all users with design elements such as bike lanes, intersection bulb-outs, narrower lanes — but a stated goal is to ensure that the benefits are greatly expanded in long-forgotten neighborhoods.

“[Road project] money is predominately spent in the wealthier whiter neighborhoods,” said Jed Weeks, policy director for Bikemore, Baltimore’s bike advocacy organization. “Historically we know we deliberately disinvested in red-lined neighborhoods.”

Poorer neighborhoods are far more likely to have households without cars. So the city’s past failure to invest in road safety in such neighborhoods means a higher likelihood of crashes in the very areas where there are more pedestrians. Sure enough, state data show that Baltimore, which has just 10.3 percent of Maryland’s population, is home to 30 percent of all statewide pedestrian crashes.