As I talk about in my strategic vision, investing in making biking and walking the way to get around is not just some fashionable trend. Studies actually show that towns that purposefully make walking and biking the best way to get around also tend to be the happiest.
The best part? How our city was designed - as a streetcar town at the beginning of the 20th century - provides the perfect layout for just such a city.
First off, at less than a square mile, the cost of building our bike infrastructure is not insurmountable. Second, our convenient location means you can connect our bikeways to bikeways in D.C. (Bunker Hill and Varnum on the north side; Monroe on the south side) and the rest of Prince George's County (the levee trail and 38th Street).
Then it's just a matter of connecting those bikeways with key locations in our town - our downtown core, the Bike Co-op, and our two elementary schools. In the end, both children and adults should be able to get just about anywhere they need to go on bike.
So what's the plan?
Well, thankfully, former council member Bill Updike helped organize some of our residents to design a bike master plan for the city. Now it's just about execution. That's why in December of 2020 I presented our Mayor and Council a plan for implementing the Bunker Hill portion of this plan in the FY22 budget, while seeking grant funding to build the remainder.
From there, I plan to engage the community in developing a plan to turn some of our streets one-way which would enable us to create actual bike lanes on some of our streets. The priority is for creating safer bikeways to our schools, and better managing traffic on the south side of Rhode Island Avenue. Targeting roads on the south side make some sense since the size of those roads already barely fit two-way traffic and such a move would help alleviate some of the traffic concerns that occur as a result of commuters trying to get from Rhode Island to Eastern Avenue by cutting through the south side.
In fact, turning some of our streets on the south side one way has the added benefit of enabling us to increase tree boxes on that side of town. In talking to the Tree Commission and some of our neighbors on the south side, it has become apparent that the small size of tree boxes on the south side limits our ability to plant large shade trees. If we could reverse that through a re-engineering of the streets and tree boxes on the south side, we could better beautify that portion of the city.