What's the one thing about Baltimore that makes it's such an interesting place to live? Well, for me, it's the fact that there is the opportunity to make a difference.
In my last few posts I've talked about the Southeast Walkability Initiative which was started in response to changes the city had made to pedestrian walk signaling around my neighborhood.
It's a subject that I very much care about and you'll see I've spent quite a bit of time and energy on - even giving up a little bit of my sanity in the hopes of making progress.
Dan Rodricks on his show last Friday referred to the initiative as "amusing" and brought on by "mommies with babies, blackberries and strollers". To say the least I was a little peeved. Actually I was pretty much outraged. Obviously Rodricks did not take the time to inform himself on the situation and why the changes sparked such discontent. The issue is about the appropriateness of push buttons to activate a walk signal in a neighborhood (that is also a central business district) with high pedestrian traffic. This “fix” or “restoration” to infrastructure is in fact a regression in our cities’ walkability and empowers the culture of automobiles over people that is already prevalent in Baltimore. The resulting confusion that is caused by removing automatic walk signals and the VERY real compromises to safety should not to be trivialized. I along with my neighbors would glady take the time to go down to the WYPR studios and have an intelligent conversation about moving Baltimore's walkability forward -not backward.
Last Friday Jamie Kendrick (DOT Deputy Director) sent an email addressing the concerns raised at the Thursday meeting and has agreed to implement some but not all of the recommendations made by the community. Unfortunately, the DOT has yet to agree to restore automatic walk signals at every cycle, a main focus of this initiative. The Baltimore Sun blog Getting There incorrectly reported on May 3rd that automatic walk signals had been restored.
In a recent meeting of the Fells Point Residence Association members voted to fully support the initiative of restoring automatic walk signals at every cycle and the removal of all push buttons.
Councilman Kraft has been out of town this week, but we look forward pursuing the issue of automatic walk signals at every cycle and the removal of the push buttons from our neighborhood when he returns.