By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – October 4, 2023) – The Baltimore City Department of Planning called for a meeting several months back at St. James Episcopal Church on Lafayette and Arlington. They wanted to discuss their new plans for our community which included expanding the sidewalks 20 feet on both sides of Fremont Avenue – beginning down the bottom where the projects used to be.
So, we posed the question: Where will we park?
It doesn’t matter that most of the people from Planning were white and speaking to us, 100% Black, while wearing masks. Well, it did feel like a kind of stick-up – but not one for our money. Nor was I bothered that they didn’t start the meeting with prayer or at least invoke the name of God – you know, being in a church and all. Nope. Didn’t bother me.
What annoyed me was that they did not really come to hear what our sentiments were. They came with the attitude that they had already made up their minds about the matter and that speaking to us was merely a formality. They were standoffish. They sought no rapport with the community.
Hell, they didn’t even bring sandwiches!
They only came with some video footage of the intersection of Fremont and Laurens where they wanted to remove the traffic light.
If you don’t know, that is a busy corner, and that traffic light has been there for decades. Why change now? Sure, sometimes we need to adapt, but I would not recommend removing a traffic light from a busy corner like that.
They call it traffic-calming and some traffic experts find it works in certain places.
Note to the Experts: Put it in your own community. We don’t want it!
Have you been across 28th Street lately? Warning: Don’t be in a rush because you are in for a shock: single-lane traffic for several blocks because – apparently – somebody is looking out for cyclists.
The only thing is, you have cars idling for 20 minutes when not a soul is riding a bike. Are cars idling good for the environment? No! Of course not!
I was on West North Avenue headed West one morning as I was returning from a guest spot on WEAA 88.9 FM’s morning show at Morgan State University. I had to go all the way to Fulton Avenue just in order to find an opening to get across North Avenue to Sandtown.
From Mt. Royal to Fulton Avenue, Eastbound traffic is at a standstill during rush hour. Why? Every single day, this traffic-calming idea that these non-locals are shoving down our throats is only making people mad.
Single-lane traffic is killing the joy out of living in Baltimore. Again, it may work elsewhere, but it’s not working here.
Democracy is supposed to be a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
I have not met anyone from Baltimore who has adequately accepted these white plastic sticks called flex posts on inner-city corners where space is already tight. Frankly, I have not met a single person who thinks the traffic on West North Ave and 28th Street makes any modicum of common sense.
I get it that a lot of non-Baltimore-born residents have their own unique vision for Baltimore. The only thing is that we, the indigenous peoples, do not see ourselves in that vision.
For instance, it appears that Baltimore is attempting to create a new Baltimore – one different than we locals are used to enjoying.
Druid Park Drive down to single-lane? North Avenue in front of Coppin down to single-lane action? I understand that some non-Baltimore-born people may be uncomfortable going to Druid Hill Park, but we locals have been doing it for a long time.
Those truly familiar with the layout of the city know that both Druid Park Drive and North Avenue are the connectors of East and West. People take these routes because we always have. It’s the shortest distance between East and West Baltimore. So, to impede traffic with single-lane traffic when you are simply trying to go to work or what have you is truly an unnecessary inconvenience. Typically, those of us in the city tend to pay higher car insurance. So, you are paying more to drive slower – almost making any drive in the city a miserable experience. It makes you angrier to find out that many of these bike lane advocates have no children and their parents live in another state.
This means that this is an anti-family – an anti-Black family initiative.
Baltimore is a majority Black city and what you do not see is Black people on bikes – and certainly not enough to warrant these bike lanes. It is ridiculous. I am sick of them. And I am sick of hearing about other Black communities, like along Gwynns Falls Parkway, who feel bullied by these bike lane advocates as well.
And the thing is, nobody is hearing our concerns. I have been talking about West North Avenue for a couple years now. The traffic is backed up for a mile. Why? People are just trying to get to I-83 or across the North Avenue Bridge. Instead, they know that they have to endure long waits. It’s beyond comprehension how Baltimore is ever to be viable and fluid when we implement traffic laws that benefit people who don’t even live here yet.
That’s not very democratic. Democracy is supposed to fulfill the wishes of the majority, and the majority of Black people I’ve talked to in East and West Baltimore find these bike lanes and these white plastic sticks on the corner a proverbial nuisance. And God forbid that fire breaks out because your hind parts will probably burn up before the fire truck gets there, especially if you live on a narrow street.
The firefighters hate things impeding traffic when they are trying to save a life or a property.
It is time for these bike lanes that are slowing up traffic to disappear. I have tried to hold my peace about this, but I cannot take it any longer.
Bike lanes and single-lane traffic are not what the majority of people in Baltimore want, especially if you are driving your kids or your parents somewhere. It’s just not working for us. Period.