BALTIMORE, MD (July 17, 2020) — State Delegate Robbyn Lewis announces the creation of the Livable Streets Coalition, a multi-racial, English-Spanish bilingual, community-based collective formed to empower residents to improve conditions in their neighborhood streets, sidewalks and public spaces. This group is unique, because it is the first multiracial, grassroots group in Baltimore formed to address systemic racism in the built environment.
The Coalition originally formed in 2019 as an advisory group of six neighborhoods in east/southeast Baltimore, including Highlandtown, Ellwood Park, McElderry Park, Patterson Park, Butchers Hill and the CARE Community. People living in these communities suffer disparate harm from traffic violence, air pollution and disinvestment caused by the car-centric design of roads like Fayette Street and Orleans Street (Route 40).
“We just want cars to stop speeding through our neighborhoods. We want to have peaceful streets where kids can play and elders can walk to the store without fear of getting hit by cars. I ride my bike to work, and I deserve to be safe, too,” says Courtney Barbour, an Ellwood Park resident.
Historically, Fayette and Orleans served as deliberately drawn racial “red line” boundaries between Black and white east Baltimore, and they continue to reinforce disparate health, environment and economic outcomes for African American and Latino people to this day.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown longstanding inequalities into sharp relief, says Delegate Lewis. “Many people living in these neighborhoods are front line workers. About 30% of them don’t own cars and depend on transit to get to work. Their children navigate these highways – on foot – to reach school. In the past month I’ve learned of two people – one a senior citizen – hit by speeding cars. This situation will only change when folks are empowered to demand slower traffic and more human-centered public spaces, just like is happening in white, affluent communities.”
The Coalition has expanded to include stakeholders such as the American Association of Retired Persons(AARP), Banner Neighborhoods, CASA de Maryland, William Paca Elementary/Middle School, Patterson Park Public Charter School and the Southeast Community Development Corporation. The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is an engaged partner in the Coalition’s efforts.
Coalition members have held meetings and conducted a “walking audit” of traffic danger spots. In light of passage of the city’s recently passed “Slow Streets” ordinance, the Coalition will advocate for a network of “slow streets” that will create pleasantly walkable connections between Bocek, Ellwood and Patterson Parks.
The Coalition’s website can be viewed at https://www.livablestreetsbaltimore.com/
For more information about the Livable Streets Coalition, please contact Delegate Robbyn Lewis at Robbyn.Lewis@house.state.md.us or 410-841-3772.