Why I support the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network

33rd street median

The Baltimore Greenway Trail Network is an exciting vision for connecting our amazing urban trails and park system into a 35-mile loop around the city. I support this vision and have been working with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Bikemore to communicate the many exciting traffic calming and public health benefits of the proposal. With their support, last fall I was able to collaborate with neighbors on creating a demonstration public art crosswalk at Gwynns Falls Parkway and Auchentoroly Terrace that called attention to the need for such safety and connectivity improvements.

Rails-to-Trails and the city have begun a long process of engagement to design the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network. Last night I attended the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition public meeting regarding their proposal for a multi use path down the middle of 33rd Street. Below are the concerns I heard, plus some facts.

  • Concern: No one tried to inform neighbors about the Greenway Trail Network plan. Fact: Rails-to-Trails has been reaching out to community associations for at least year now. I first heard about the plan in February 2016. Several meetings have been held for both 33rd Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway communities, including last night’s gathering. This is the beginning of the planning process, not the end. Nothing is approved or fully designed. Lets keep on participating!
  • Concern: A median trail will destroy the historic Olmsted plan for boulevards connecting Baltimore’s parks. Fact: over 100 years ago, the Olmsteds’ designed numerous multi-use, tree-lined paths for cities across the country. The Baltimore plan for boulevards connecting parks was never fully realized and quickly compromised by increased car traffic choking off the median green spaces from people who would like to use them. A median trail will in fact help properly realize the Olmsteds’ historic vision for Baltimore.
  • Concern: A median trail will kill trees. Fact: there are numerous examples of historic and modern trails that do not kill trees. The city’s arborist must approve any such design, and the proposal is for a pervious trail surface that will allow the trees to continue to thrive.
  • Concern: The trail will take away green space used by kids for playing. Fact: I lived on 33rd Street for five years with a bedroom overlooking the median. I never saw kids playing because the median is locked off from pedestrians by curbs and dangerous traffic. A median trail will make the space safe and accessible for kids learning to ride bikes, people traveling in wheelchairs, walkers, runners, and cyclists.
  • Concern: The trail will cause an increase in car traffic. Fact: the trail’s many bumpouts and crosswalks will help slow the dangerous traffic on 33rd while giving people more options for commuting without needing a car, thereby reducing traffic.

From 2008-2013 I lived on 33rd Street and wished we could add a path down the middle and calm traffic. In 2013 I moved to Auchentoroly Terrace and now hold similar pedestrian safety and connectivity hopes for our community. Many of my neighbors and I are excited to help support the median trail proposal for the Olmsted-designed Gwynns Falls Parkway. A multi use, center-running trail will help calm traffic and enable our many differently abled neighbors to connect with Druid Hill and Leakin Parks. I’m excited to share this vision with my friends and former neighbors along 33rd Street

— Graham (a guy who likes to hang out on median strips)

Read about the trail network from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: https://www.railstotrails.org/our…/trail-projects/baltimore/

More facts from BikeMore: https://www.bikemore.net/news/fact-check-the-greenways-trail-network-plan-is-awesome-support-it