Baltimore could be bicycle city

April 22, 2011

I'm often amazed at home much time and money is spent on transit expansions that never happen. Look at the Regional Rail System plan. It's a great plan, but it's been nearly 10 years and no movement. The problem with large bureaucracies is they mistake planning for building.

Expanding transit is important, but let's not neglect projects that are cheaper, easier to build, and serve more people. Transit projects are incredibly expensive and take decades. For a fraction of the cost of the Red Line, we could build an amazing bike lane network that far outperforms Portland and Washington and serves every corner of the city and beyond. We could become the nation's top cycling city.

We could even use a chunk of that money to serve low-income communities through a low-cost bike sharing system, cycling education and more secure bike parking facilities. More people biking won't happen in any substantial way without better infrastructure, outreach and security.

Portland says it's spent only $60 million on its amazing bike infrastructure. Just a mile of highway costs about the same. The Red Line will cost the state over $230 million, and that's not counting $1.5 billion in federal funds. This is a no brainer, people.

With more bike infrastructure, we're solving our budget, obesity, traffic and environmental crises in one fell swoop. Let's not pass up this opportunity to be No.1 at something without breaking the bank.

Paul Day, Baltimore

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