The TAME Coalition has produced a new film, “Road to Ruin: A Moral Choice.” The film’s title is the decision facing Montgomery County’s elected and appointed officials.
Montgomery County officials have two critical plans before them to be finished in 2021: Thrive Montgomery 2050 and Climate Action Plan. Both government draft plans are committing to best strategies in order to fight climate change.
County Officials must incorporate a No New Highways policy in both Plans, along with a related climate action in this direction: removal of proposed M-83 highway from the county’s master plans.
Removing M-83 highway from the master plans, and stepping-up investments in Upcounty transit, will set a clear direction toward people-centric and away from car-centric travel; will avoid increasing the county’s carbon emissions from transportation; and will enhance climate resilience through protection of existing forests, wetlands and stream valleys in Upcounty communities.
Transit and Transportation Justice is integral to the work of the TAME Coalition.
Transit Justice refers to the universal right to a public mass transit system. Our transit system must meet the needs of our least-advantaged communities, not only in safe access to transit stations and bus stops, but also in the setting of transit destinations that are needed for people to get to jobs, shopping, health appointments, visits to loved ones, and parks.
Everyone has a right to a public mass transit system that includes:
- Safe, reliable, and affordable transit accessible to all.
- All communities have access to transit; no community should be left behind.
- Living wages, benefits, safe working conditions, and union rights for transit workers.
- A just transition for workers and communities now dependent on the car-centric system.
- Rapid transition of our transit systems to transit powered by electricity from renewables.
- Safe, healthy neighborhoods connected by public transit and streets that are safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Dedicated and sustainable public funding and public ownership for public transit.
Transportation Justice, “has been at the heart of the civil rights movement in America – from challenging the notion of “separate but equal” to the Montgomery bus boycotts and the Freedom Riders.” (Urban Habitat).
Seeking Transportation Justice for TAME Coalition means we pursue a connected, affordable, and reliable transportation network that meets the needs of all, and especially of low-income residents, in Montgomery Village, Gaithersburg, Germantown and Clarksburg. This kind of system would increase ridership but also be the most cost-effective and equitable solution to the climate crisis.
A report issued in July 2020 by the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) indicates that there are disparities in the ability to telework amongst different communities. The report states that :
« Workers in jobs that could not be done remotely faced two elevated risks: economic hardship and/or infection.”
TAME Coalition, a strong proponent of increasing the use of telework as one of several strategies for reducing greenhouse gases by getting people to reduce driving, acknowledges this problem of unequal access to telework options. We recognize that this disparity is real, and it favors people with white privilege who can work from home, while putting workers of color and low-income people who do service work and infrastructure maintenance work, at higher risk of COVID infection and also at higher economic risk.
The report notes that the increased financial hardships borne by people of color, worsened by the pandemic, “may play out for years post-pandemic, making public programs such as unemployment insurance, rental assistance, food assistance, employment assistance, and workforce development critical for overcoming the disparate financial burdens created during the pandemic.“
Health care workers are among the frontline communities in the COVID pandemic, who are often unable to use telework to perform their jobs; we must ensure that local transit systems support these workers. Image credit: US Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Progressive Maryland Hosts Environmental Justice Webinar With a Focus on Transit Justice
On July 21, 2020, Progressive Maryland hosted a virtual town hall with the theme of Black Lives Matter – exploring a range of Environmental Justice Themes, including Transit Justice. Panelists included State Senator Mary Washington (D-43); Dante Swinton, Energy Justice Network and Clean Air Coalition Baltimore; Samuel Jordan, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition; and Amber Brown, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. One of the take-home messages is that Transit Justice is about more than providing disadvantaged communities with access to transit systems – it’s also about the equitable setting of transit destinations that will benefit these communities.
Safe Streets refers to the work of the TAME Coalition, in cooperation with allies, to promote the ability of Montgomery County residents and workers to walk, bike, and take transit without fear of losing their lives.
TAME Coalition participated in a memorial ceremony for a resident of Montgomery Village who was killed on the Mid-County Highway when he was struck by an SUV on February 12, 2020.
Action Committee for Transit (ACT), together with the family and friends of Adonias Gomez, held a gathering and brief memorial service at the site where Mr. Gomez was struck while attempting to cross the Mid-County Highway at Pier Point Place.
Caption: Among those who gathered in memory of Adonias Gomez: Left to Right: Planning Commissioner Partap Verma; Diane Cameron, TAME Coalition Director; relative of Mr. Gomez; relative of Mr. Gomez; Edna Miller, TAME Coalition Core Member; relative of Mr. Gomez; District 39 Delegate Gabriel Acevero; ACT Board Member Miriam Schoenbaum; Cindy Snow, ACT member; and Civic Federation leader Alan Bowser.
A Salvadorean community blog post reported in February, 2020:
“Salvadorean worker dies when he is hit by a car on his way home in Maryland”
“Con Gómez ya son cuatro los peatones que han perdido la vida en las carreteras del condado de Montgomery en este 2020. Las autoridades trabajan para reducir estos accidentes con el plan Visión Cero que incluye colocar nuevos pasos peatonales y señales de tránsito en puntos estratégicos, actualizar leyes que protejan a los peatones, entre otras mejoras.”
“With Gomez there are already four pedestrian deaths due to car collisions in Montgomery County in 2020. Authorities are working to reduce these accidents with the Vision Zero plan that includes placing new pedestrian crossings and road signs at strategic points, updating laws that protect pedestrians, among other improvements.”
TAME will continue to partner with ACT and other groups to promote safe streets for people who walk and cycle. We honor those whose lives were lost as we work for Vision Zero.