City closes more roads at Lake Montebello to provide space for recreation

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Photo courtesy of Live Baltimore

The city is adding to its Slow Streets Pilot Program today by closing more roads around Lake Montebello to open up space for walkers, runners and cyclists, and encourage social distancing during recreation.

The Department of Public Works had already closed Whitman Drive, wrapping around the north and western edges of the lake, at the start of April. Now, DPW and the Department of Transportation are adding Curran Drive on the lake’s southern and eastern edges, Lake Montebello Drive, and all entry points for cars.

Last week the city launched the program in Druid Hill Park, removing a lane of parking to create a dedicated path for cyclists and pedestrians.

“This pilot program expands people’s walking and biking options while helping residents get some much-needed fresh air in an appropriate space,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said in a statement. “I have tasked the Department of Transportation with finding solutions to allow our residents ways of practicing social distancing in a safe environment.”

DOT director Steve Sharkey noted in a statement that the program comes as the weather starts to warm up.

“This new addition to our pilot program creates more options and opportunities for our residents to exercise as the city works to maintain and protect the health of our residents,” he said.

Residents who take advantage of Lake Montebello or Druid Hill Park must maintain six feet of separation from other users.

On April 23, City Councilman Ryan Dorsey (District 3) and nine other councilmembers sent a letter to Young asking the mayor to join other cities that have shut down entire streets to make room for pedestrians, cyclists and people with mobility devices. The group said Baltimore should close travel lanes along certain routes so people without cars can complete essential trips.

Sidewalks in Baltimore are not large enough for social distancing, they said, and “many” sidewalks and intersections do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Speaking with Baltimore Fishbowl last week, Dorsey said the new path in Druid Hill Park was “a small step in the right direction” but renewed the call for further action, adding that similar steps should be taken for people using roads for reasons other than exercise.

“The administration’s focus on parks is important because safe recreation is crucial to maintaining good mental health at this time, but similar accommodations are necessary in other places around the City,” he said, “particularly to provide the benefit of safe travel to a wider variety of road users.”

Brandon Weigel

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