Important Roland Avenue Update from Bob Connors

Dear Roland Park Civic League members and residents,

As many of you may already be aware, Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) has  announced a Public Meeting about a proposed “road diet” test on Roland Avenue. Their required public meeting will take place Monday, April 1st from 6:00-7:30PM at the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, 5207 Roland Avenue. A flyer from DOT explaining the particulars of their plan is starting to circulate today, so I thought it important to provide you with a brief summary of how the Roland Avenue situation has evolved up to this point, and what my thoughts are regarding the proposed “road diet.”

I was appointed to a task force last July in my role as Roland Park Civic League (RPCL) President to be your representative before the Baltimore Department of Transportation (DOT) who is charged with determining next steps for Roland Avenue (press release). You may recall, this was following a poll RPCL sponsored, the results of which have guided my advocacy on your behalf. I have consistently demanded only data driven and evidence based best practices be considered to bring us to a context sensitive solution where all street users will be safe. My updates during the last 6 months at monthly RPCL Board meetings are captured in our minutes and summarized in the most recent issue of Roland Park News. Despite hiring a consultant last fall (WRA), no feasibility studies were performed as the Community requested: neither a comprehensive engineering survey recommended nor a traffic circulation study. Still, in the last two months task force discussions quickly shifted to pursuing a “pilot” or test this spring.

Last Thursday, the DOT called a meeting of local stakeholders including the fire department, schools, and businesses to present their proposal of a pilot “Road Diet”, which would test the lane reduction concept rejected last summer. Every local stakeholder present and those unavailable to attend expressed serious safety concerns about this proposal. Still DOT plans to proceed with their plans.

My position, consistently communicated at task force meetings, is that this pilot and the road diet concept is an inappropriate treatment here because it’s experimental, not based on best practices or data. Neither will solve our existing problems (poor sight lines at side streets and crosswalks, pedestrian vulnerability entering/exiting vehicles of all types, cyclists avoiding the route, longstanding issues at the public school drop off area) but will heighten those unsafe conditions and create more (like cut-through traffic on side streets).

The fire marshal’s office is currently reviewing the plans and has yet to provide an official opinion on the potential for reduced emergency response times due to the pilot’s large orange drums (2×3 feet) which cannot be quickly moved en masse to allow firetrucks and ambulances to pass. Recall that Roland Park’s Truck 25 was relocated to Hampden (3724 Roland Avenue) within the last year based on the existing roadway configuration. Currently only Medic team 19 remains at Fire Company 44, 2 Upland Road.

I continue to be committed to safety for all those who use Roland Avenue, and look forward to seeing many of you on April 1st. In the interim please direct questions and concerns to your plat representatives, Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton, and the DOT.

Bob Connors
President, Roland Park Civic League

For those interested, federal road diet guidelines have been shared with the task force.
Link to full background history.  Link to DOT Flyer-Roland-Ave-Lane-Reduction-Pilot