Who We Are
The Livable Streets Coalition is a network of residents and stakeholders working to improve quality of life by slowing traffic, increasing pedestrian safety and strengthening collaboration across racial, language, economic and neighborhood boundaries. The Coalition was convened in October 2019 by Delegate Robbyn Lewis, to create a platform for resolving conflicts about community development, specifically with respect to cars, transit and street conditions. Originally established as an advisory group of residents and neighborhood associations close to the Fayette/Orleans road corridors, the group has since evolved into a broad coalition that includes schools, nonprofits anywhere that people are interested in creating healthier communities.
The Livable Streets Coalition was created, and is managed and resourced solely by Delegate Robbyn Lewis.
Watch this video to find out more:
Video credit: John Wesby, Wesby One Productions, 2019
For years, people living in the densely populated, historic rowhouse neighborhoods of east and southeast Baltimore have silently suffered from harm caused by four major roads that slice through their neighborhoods, namely Fayette Street, Orleans Street aka Route 40, Monument Street and Madison Street.
These four streets are wide, with multiple lanes, designed to move thousands of suburban commuter vehicles at high speed through residential neighborhoods, to reach jobs downtown and beyond. These streets act like highways that cut through residential neighborhoods, making
make life unlivable for everyone.
It is not an accident that the people most harmed by these roads are African American and Latino. In fact, Orleans Street functioned as a racial boundary - literally a segregationist “red line” between Black and White east Baltimore. The legacy of white supremacist housing policy. Decisions made a hundred years ago to separate people - to isolate African Americans from amenities and opportunity - continue to inflict disparate harm.
Over the course of the last century, forces like white flight, suburbanization and disinvestment in public transit led to the evolution of streets like Fayette, Orleans, Madison and Monument that privilege suburban dwelling commuters over Black and Brown city dwellers.
Today, people living near these urban highways breathe some of the most toxic air and suffer among the highest rates of injury and death from traffic violence in Baltimore. These awful outcomes are the result of design. Better outcomes are possible but require a level of mutual cooperation, collaboration and activism that have not existed, in large part due to the history of racial segregation. A concerted effort, grounded in equity, is needed to enable cooperation to demand better street conditions, thereby repairing the harms of the past and creating a healthy community.
Historically segregated, or “red-lined” neighborhoods have suffered from long-term disinvestment, including inadequate pedestrian infrastructure.
Collaborative, collective action to improve pedestrian safety for African American and Latino people in Baltimore can reduce the negative impact of high-speed, high-volume traffic in their neighborhoods.
In order to achieve this goal, African American and Latino people must be empowered by means of equitable and inclusive strategies. A grassroots coalition can be an effective model for empowering historically marginalized people to transform their environments.
Our Mission & Objectives
The mission of the Livable Streets Coalition is to improve quality of life for African American and Latino people by empowering them to collaboratively and collectively improve street conditions in their communities. The Coalition will necessarily engage and embrace white allies and organizations that share this mission.
We aim to:
Increase positive social interaction between historically divided neighborhoods
Increase pedestrian safety by improving crosswalks, slowing down traffic and other interventions on and around high speed corridors
Improve pedestrian access to green space and other community amenities
Decrease likelihood that transit- and mobility-related initiatives will be derailed due to lack of early, meaningful engagement
Lay groundwork for future built environment initiatives eg, climate adaptation or rails-to-trails
"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."
- Courtney Barbour,
Ellwood Park resident