No cars on Sunday? Maybe

How does closing off traffic in downtown Baltimore on Sundays sound? No honking horns, screeching brakes or gridlocked congestion.

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Published April 9, 2007 by the Baltimore Examiner
By Ron Cassie 

How does closing off traffic in downtown Baltimore on Sundays sound? No honking horns, screeching brakes or gridlocked congestion.

Maybe the air would be a little cleaner to breathe, too, while sight-seeing at the Inner Harbor, hiking up Federal Hill, walking across the cobblestones in Fells Point and eating hard-shell crabs outside in Canton. You’d be able to ride your bike around to all those places, as well.

It’s just an intriguing idea at this point, but One Less Car’s new executive director, Richard Chambers, believes it could help transform Charm City into a more livable, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly town.

“With gas prices, congestion and obesity increasing, it’s a like a perfect storm,” said Chambers. “I think the time is right for changing our transportation focus.”

One Less Car is a statewide nonprofit that advocates for safe and effective cycling and walking through education, lobbying and facilitating community and government partnerships.

The inspiration for briefly closing Baltimore’s downtown streets, Chambers said, comes from One Less Car board member Greg Cantori, who has taken part in Bogota, Colombia’s regular and well-attended Ciclovia. Ottawa, Amsterdam and, beginning this May, El Paso, Texas, are just a few of the other cities worldwide that sponsor Ciclovia (“bike path” in Spanish) days or mornings. Cities use the car-free days to encourage bicycle tourism and differently themed events designed to promote healthy cultural and commercial downtown activity, as well as alternative transportation.

“Richard comes to us with a background in consumer-rights law and in advocating for the health and vitality of Maryland’s vital downtowns,” said Offie Clark, president of One Less Car, in a written statement annoucing Chambers’ hiring. “We are excited to have him now use those skills in advancing our mission in making Maryland a better place for walkers and bicyclists while also reducing traffic congestion statewide.”

Chambers joins One Less Car from his previous position as executive director at the Maryland Downtown Development Association, a statewide smart-growth advocacy and education nonprofit. Previously, he worked as a project coordinator at the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, and he has served on the boards of the Transit Riders Action Council and Baltimore Heritage.

Chambers, 32, lives in the Lauraville section of Baltimore. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola College and a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

About the nonprofit

One Less Car Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

One Less Car Inc.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 19987, Baltimore, MD 21211

Phone: 410-235-3678

rcassie@baltimoreexaminer.com