Baltimore’s Bike Lanes are White Lanes

This is the concluding post in a trilogy of essays I am writing to explain how Bikemore’s fixation on Complete Streets is blocking the design of alternative visions of transit in the Afrofuturist city.

In this essay, I lay out the evidence that shows how Baltimore’s bike lanes are, in fact, White lanes. This is important since Bikemore claims they are working to “make transportation decisions more equitable.” But the evidence says otherwise.

irst, the groups that drafted the 2015 Baltimore City Bike Master Plan were nearly all White as I noted on Twitter in 2017. Also note that two Bikemore representatives sat on the Steering Committee responsible for drafting the bike master plan.

There were two consultant groups that helped draft the city’s bike master plan: McCormick Taylor and Sabra, Wang, & Associates. Here’s a better view of their principal associates. Not a one Black person can be found.

econd, here is the map from the 2015 Bike Master Plan (found on page 8). This map shows the participants of the survey used to help create city’s bike master plan. The White L pattern of survey participants is glaringly obvious. Hence, people in White L communities had overwhelming input in the design of Baltimore’s bike system.

hird, the chairperson of the Bike Master Plan’s Steering Committee was one Jon Laria. Laria was interviewed by the Baltimore Business Journal’s Kevin Litten for an April 1, 2015 article. The article was entitled How Real Estate Lawyer Jon Laria Became an Unlikely Leader for Baltimore’s Bicyclists.

Laria flat out tells the Journal that a group of 100 people showed up to a meeting because they were “so concerned about how the lack of bike infrastructure in Baltimore was affecting the attraction of new residents and workers.” In other words, this group wasn’t building up bike infrastructure for the city’s majority-Black existing residents. They were building it up — in the White L — to attract NEW residents. One can only surmise the racial composition of these new residents.

Also note that the meeting, “wasn’t widely advertised.” Another glimpse into the Steering Committee’s exclusivity.

To conclude, the groups responsible for drafting the 2015 Bike Master Plan were nearly all White. Consultant groups had no Black principal associates at the time. Next, most of the bicycle survey participants came from White L neighborhoods. Black Butterfly neighborhoods were undersampled. Finally, the chairperson of the Steering Committee (Jon Laria) admitted that they were “so concerned” about how bike infrastructure “was affecting the attraction of new residents and workers.”

Clearly then, Baltimore’s bike infrastructure was designed by a nearly all White planning group to: 1) cater to White L neighborhoods, 2) assist in the attraction of new residents, and 3) minimize the input of Black Butterfly residents. This evidence comes from their own documents (2015 Bike Master Plan) and their own words (Jon Laria). The evidence reveals what many residents in Black Butterfly neighborhoods have been saying all along: Baltimore’s bike lanes are White lanes.

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Lawrence Brown

Urban Afrofuturist. Equity scientist. Author of “The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America.” linktr.ee/bmoredoc