Posts about CSG
Fifty years ago, visionary leaders conceived, planned, and built Metro, radically reshaping the Washington DC region. Today Metrorail is a national example of how a well-planned transit system can help fuel economic growth by revitalizing communities and helping hundreds of thousands of people get where they're going each day. But where's the plan for the next generation?
Today, with a new report, Thinking Big, Planning Smart: A Primer for Greater Washington's Next Generation of Transit, the Coalition for Smarter Growth wants to engage residents in a campaign to win a new transit vision and the funding to implement it.
Regional leaders have expressed strong support for transit-oriented development in their Region Forward vision and in recent state of the county addresses, but our regional transportation plans are dominated by a never-ending list of new highways and road expansion projects, with a few disconnected transit projects.
Just two weeks ago, the Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) added a number of new road projects to the regional plan, but not a single transit project. While the road projects march forward, transit projects are forced to beg for funding.
So, our report is both a call to action and a baseline resource. It offers the first compilation of the region's many transit and transportation plans, briefly summarizes the many benefits of transit to the DC region, and features and compares the metrics for six major transit projects or systems that are under construction or reasonably far along in planning, including the Silver Line, Purple Line, DC Streetcar, Arlington Streetcar, Alexandria Bus Rapid Transit and Montgomery Rapid Transit System.
A CSG volunteer, John Peck, worked to create a base map of all of the current rail transit lines and the six systems featured in the report. We gained a respect for the GIS professionals!
While we are encouraged by the new transit systems being proposed, we are very concerned that the region has no plan to interconnect the systems nor to ensure operational coordination including common fare card use and real time information, not to mention who should operate each system. We also found that the studies for these systems don't share a common set of performance measurements. So we owe it to University of California engineering student Haleemah Qureshi for creating the first comprehensive, comparative table of metrics derived from the technical reports for each of the featured transit systems.
How do we get there?
"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized." Daniel Burnham's quote is perhaps overused, but nevertheless, we need a regional commitment to a new transit plan, the funding to support it, and a hardnosed commitment to implementing it.
We are recommending extensive public involvement and modern crowdsourcing. We believe that a joint committee of elected officials who serve on the WMATA and Council of Governments boards, should oversee the process and complete a plan within two years. WMATA staff, who have been leading the PlanIt Metro analyses and the development of the Momentum program, should provide the lead technical support, and be assisted by COG staff and local transportation and land use planners. Your thoughts on the process?
Finally, our report includes a recommended set of principles to justify and guide the development of a new transit vision. Do you agree? What might be missing?
Principles to guide a next generation of transit
High-capacity public transportation is the most important investment for supporting a sustainable region of livable, walkable centers, and neighborhoods.
Several factors make public transportation investments critical:
- High energy prices and the high cost of auto transportation
- Climate change
- Air and water pollution
- Failure of road expansion to effectively manage traffic, due to induced demand and related inefficient patterns of auto-dependent development
- The significant number of residents who cannot drive, cannot afford a car or do not own a car. This includes lower-income residents, the disabled, the young and elderly, and the growing sector of our population seeking to live in communities where they do not have to be dependent on a car.
- The benefit public transportation provides in supporting compact, efficient development, lowering per capita infrastructure costs and saving land.
Rehabilitating and improving our Metrorail system must be our first priority.
Major public transportation investments must be tied to good land use: well-designed, compact, mixed-use, mixed-income, walking and biking-friendly neighborhoods with interconnected local street networks - both transit-oriented development and traditional neighborhood development.
Supporting build-out at our existing Metro stations should be a priority, and together with mixed-use development at all stations, will ensure that our Metro trains have high ridership in both directions all day.
New high-capacity public transportation corridors must include the region's commercial/retail corridors. Given the strong commitment to preserving the character of existing suburban neighborhoods, these commercial corridors offer the best opportunity to absorb regional growth while protecting suburban neighborhoods.
We should be flexible and not locked into one public transportation mode as the answer. We should ensure we match the public transportation mode, design and service plan to the land use densities and levels of service we are trying to achieve.
Public transportation planners should ensure that each public transportation study considers all modes and the necessary mixed-use, walkable, and transit-oriented urban design essential to maximizing ridership and the value of the public transportation investment. Safe and robust access to public transportation by promoting walking and bicycling and supportive local street networks must be a part of any public transportation and funding plan.
Continuing to debate the mode after a final vote by an elected board or council isn't constructive. It delays and even harms the advancement of much needed public transportation investments.
We can be proud of our region's success with transit and transit-oriented development. But without the commitment of the public and our elected officials, we'll fail to make the investments in the next generation of transit that are necessary to support the demand for transit-oriented communities, to offer an alternative to sitting in traffic, and to fight climate change.
With this report and the engagement of CSG members and GGW readers, we aim to spark a new transit plan for the region. In the coming weeks, we'll be speaking to local elected officials, the WMATA board, the Council of Governments, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, transportation and land use planners, and the public. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 3/5/13: CSG has launched a Next Generation of Transit feedback catalog, where we'll be cataloging feedback, comments, ideas and suggestions. Keep the conversation going in the comments below, but we also encourage you to check out and contribute to the catalog.
On the heels of a report suggesting Montgomery County's Bus Rapid Transit plans are too ambitious, county planners are recommending reducing the number of lines and using dedicated bus lanes across a smaller portion of the system.
They presented these recommendations last night at a forum hosted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, "The Next Generation of Transit," which discussed how the county needs to expand its transit network.
Geoff Anderson from Smart Growth America talked about the social, economic and environmental benefits of public transit and compact, walkable development, while County Councilmember Roger Berliner discussed how transit is integral to attracting young people and entrepreneurs to the county. Mike Madden, project manager for the Maryland Transit Administration, offered a quick update on the Purple Line.
However, the biggest news came from Larry Cole, transportation planner with the Montgomery County Planning Department. Cole presented the latest recommendations for a countywide Bus Rapid Transit network, which would become part of a master plan for future transit expansion.
The county has been studying BRT since 2008, though a recently-released study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, considered to be international experts on BRT, argues that it may not work in all parts of the county.
Planners looked at current land use and travel habits, along with changes proposed in the county's existing plans, and compared different scenarios for building BRT. They found that while a larger system would draw more riders and reduce driving, physical and economic constraints made a smaller network more feasible.
BRT corridors Montgomery County planners currently recommend. Click here to see their proposal from last November.
The Planning Department's latest proposal is for a 79-mile network with two phases. It would have 8 routes, on Route 355, Colesville Road/Columbia Pike, Georgia Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, Randolph Road, Veirs Mill Road, University Boulevard, and the North Bethesda Transitway. It's a smaller system than previous proposals, but it's still more than the 4-route system ITDP favors.
Buses would run in mixed traffic on many corridors just as they do today. Last November, Cole suggested that in order to give buses their own dedicated lanes, considered a must-have for successful BRT, space may need to be taken from cars.
Buses would have dedicated lanes in the median on all of Route 355 between Friendship Heights and Clarksburg, where it will support the redevelopment of White Flint and other areas along the corridor, along with portions of Georgia Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, and Columbia Pike. Combined, these sections make up 31 miles of the system.
On other roads, like Veirs Mill Road and Randolph Road, buses would travel in a single-lane median that would change directions based on rush hour traffic, in "managed lanes" where buses would have some priority over other vehicles, or in mixed traffic.
Cole cited "difficult operational issues" for places where buses wouldn't get their own lanes, such as Columbia Pike and Colesville Road south of Lockwood Drive in Silver Spring. Though the corridor has six lanes and is home to some of the most heavily-used bus routes in suburban Maryland, homeowners in Four Corners have expressed opposition to taking away lanes from cars at several public meetings, including this one.
Instead, Lockwood Drive, a two-lane road roughly parallel to Columbia Pike and lined with apartment buildings, would be widened to give buses their own lanes, though it doesn't go all the way to downtown Silver Spring.
"Is the desire [for transit on Colesville and Columbia] there? Yes," said Cole. "Is the ridership high enough to justify taking a lane? Yes. When we looked at how that would actually work, we decided we needed additional study."
Buses would run in mixed traffic on Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Photo by the author.
Though Montgomery County's Bus Rapid Transit plans are being trimmed down, they're moving in the right direction. ITDP recommended that the county focus on areas where transit use is already high, which the 8 routes as proposed do cover. It's also good to focus on the right solution for the right area, allowing limited resources to be spent where they're most needed.
At the same time, we can't fall prey to "BRT creep," when BRT systems gradually get watered down throughout the design process to the point where they stop being significant steps forward for transit. County planners need to take a stand even when there's some opposition.
It's good that they've stood by dedicated lanes on Route 355 even in areas like downtown Bethesda and White Flint where space may have be taken from cars, but it's disappointing that they've chosen not to endorse doing the same on equally-constrained Georgia Avenue or Colesville Road in Silver Spring.
Transit is most effective when it can give riders a reliable commute, and buses simply can't do that when they're stuck in traffic with everyone else. And without reliable transit, our region's growth and prosperity is at risk.
Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, echoed these concerns at the meeting. "We have to make some hard choices," he said. "We've got to figure out a better way to grow. If we do it without adding transit and without adding more walkable neighborhoods, we will just die in our traffic."
Planners are currently working on a draft of the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, which they will present to the Planning Board in March. In May, the board will hold public hearings before taking a vote later this spring. If the Planning Board and later the County Council approve, the county will start doing more detailed studies in addition to preliminary engineering for the Bus Rapid Transit network.
Whether you care about parking, bicycling, walking, or all three, in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, there are some important events coming up, from a parking meeting tonight in Georgetown to a forum on upcounty Montgomery pedestrian safety to a bike rally in Richmond.
Talk parking in Georgetown: Tonight (Wednesday, January 16) is a Georgetown community meeting about parking. Topher Mathews reports Georgetown is likely to get some form of performance parking, but before it does, leaders want to hear from residents about their parking needs and desires. The meeting starts at 6:30 at Hardy Middle School.
Make walkable neighborhoods for everyone: Many DC neighborhoods like H Street are becoming desirable, walkable places, but also increasingly unaffordable for many. How can we ensure these places serve everyone, including long-time residents, rather than one small segment of the population?
The Coalition for Smarter Growth, the most influential smart growth group in the Washington region, organized a panel with Chris Leinberger of Brookings, David Bowers from Enterprise Community Partners, and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute's Ed Lazere. It's Tuesday, January 22, 6:30-8:30 (with some refreshments beginning at 6) at NCPC, 401 9th St NW, suite 500 North. RSVP here.
Talk pedestrians in upcounty: After a spate of pedestrian injuries and deaths in upcounty Montgomery, the Action Committee for Transit put together a forum on pedestrian safety at the Germantown Public Library, 2-4 pm on Saturday, January 26. Barbara McCann from the National Complete Streets Coalition will talk about the area's pedestrian safety problems and possible solutions.
Support biking in DC, Maryland: WABA is inviting folks to its offices on Wednesday, January 23 to talk about bicycle planning in DC and Maryland. The MoveDC initiative and a transportation planning process in Maryland will be collecting a lot of public input.
Stop by WABA's offices in Adams Morgan, 2599 Ontario Road NW, between 5:30 and 9:30 to talk with WABA staff and fellow cycling advocates about how to best weigh in during these processes and what to say when you do.
Support biking in Virginia: In the Commonwealth, the biggest bicycling issues are in the state legislature, where advocates are pushing for 6 specific bills that will make roads safer for cyclists. They are organizing a Bicycling Action Day in Richmond on Tuesday, January 29, starting at 10:30 at the "compass" plaza at Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by a bicycle ride to the state capitol for a rally.
Zoning update! And don't forget the Ward 4 zoning update information session, 6:30 tonight (again, Wednesday
The holiday season is upon us, including the season of giving to charitable organizations. I hope you will support the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the most influential smart growth group in the Washington region.
Their work is critical to creating, maintaining, and improving vibrant, walkable, and transit-rich neighborhoods throughout the Washington region. That's why I serve on their board of advisors and regularly contribute to their campaigns.
I hope you will consider supporting the Coalition for Smarter Growth with a $100 sponsorship of their 2013 campaign or whatever you can afford.
Please click here to sponsor the Coalition for Smarter Growth's 2013 campaign.
Your support can have a big impact and help to make a great region even greater.
With your contribution, you can personally help to make sure the Coalition for Smarter Growth keeps working on key projects like:
- Fighting for new transit investments throughout the region;
- Organizing to support good transit-oriented development;,
- Stopping sprawl-inducing, retrograde highway projects;
- Building networks of engaged residents to form a unified voice for policies that prioritize the creation of more livable, walkable communities.
Your dollars will speak loudly, adding to momentum across the region for a balance of transportation choices, from Capital Bikeshare to improved Metro and bus service. Your dollars will also help create more walkable neighborhoods where a car is just one of many ways to get to the grocery store, the library or the park.
Can you contribute a $100 sponsorship or whatever you feel is appropriate for the Coalition for Smarter Growth's 2013 work?
The District controls a significant amount of land, much of it in desirable locations, ripe for development. The DC government needs to put this land to its maximum use, and to ensure that there are affordable housing opportunities incorporated into these developments, says a new report from the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
After the 1968 riots, commercial corridors were decimated, DC's population declined and private investment dried up. The District acquired vacant lots, aging schools, federal property, and other facilities. As post-recession construction heats up again, DC will be looking to develop this land.
The report details where and how the District can make better use of its ownership leverage to increase affordable housing opportunities on public land. Where previous mayors made strong commitments to affordable units in development projects on city land, Mayor Gray's administration has been more lax.
"Our public lands are so valuable, and we're concerned the city is not going to deliver the affordability that it's achieved in the past," says Cheryl Cort, Policy Director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. "We urge the Mayor and the Housing Task Force to recommit to leveraging city-owned land to create a substantial amount of affordable housing, including at deeply affordable levels."
According to Cort, the study's "main finding is that while the previous administrations were able to produce significant amounts of affordable housing down to deeply affordable levels in city-land redevelopment projects, we aren't seeing the same level of commitment from the new administration."
Major developments like CityVista at 5th and K St, NW and around the Columbia Heights Metro station have integrated significant amounts of very affordable housing into larger, mixed use developments, says Cort.
"DC has had some successful accomplishments when it comes to city-owned lands transformed in to vibrant mixed use, mixed income developments. However, without keeping specific and ambitious affordable housing requirements in future deals, we are likely to see less and less affordability in these valuable city land projects," said Jenny Reed, Policy Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, in a statement.
Ideal sites for producing affordable housing are the McMillan Sand Filtration site (25 acres), Walter Reed's Georgia Avenue Campus (67 acres), Saint Elizabeths East Campus (183 acres), and even Poplar Point (110 acres) which is seemingly stuck in place. To maximize the housing potential of public lands adjacent to Metrorail stations and Metrobus routes, the city must override some desires to build a "one or two-story library or other public facility with a surface parking lot," the report says. Instead, a "robust mix of compatible uses" and full use of the building envelope should be a guiding design principle.
The report highlights the development of the Hine School site at Eastern Market, which will provide substantial amounts of affordable housing units, including some at 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). However, recent solicitations by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development's land disposition office indicate that housing set asides for people with 30 percent of AMI in larger projects, are no longer in place as they have been in the past.
While earnings for lower-wage workers have remained flat over the past 10 years, housing costs have shot up. According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, between 2000 and 2010 more than 36,000 rental units, priced at $750 or less a month, have been lost. Compounding rising costs for low-wage workers is the natural expiration of federal Section 8 subsidized housing credits. Started under a program created in 1974, Section 8 contracts for private landlords usually run for 20 to 40 years. Many landlords are now turning their properties into market-rate units.
"If the city no longer asks for deeply affordable units as part of an overall project, we don't expect developers will provide them," Cort says. "As our city's housing market gets more expensive, we need to do more, not less to address the challenges that our lower income residents face. Public land is a unique tool that the city has and can continue to leverage to provide substantial amounts of affordable housing, even at very low income levels."
DC has a shortage of affordable housing, but it has no shortage of public land. The District needs to use this land to guarantee more affordable housing so that we can remain an economically diverse city.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is, well, growing! CSG is hiring a project manager to head up our new Next Generation of Transit campaign. Do you have a passion for advocacy, writing and making a difference in the Washington DC region? If so, consider applying to join our team.
As CSG's newest staff member, I can vouch first-hand that the Coalition for Smarter Growth is a great place to work, with a small, dedicated staff of super-committed (and fun!) people, who love coming to work each day.
You'll research new transit solutions, build grassroots and grasstops supporters, help with our fundraising efforts, assist on crafting the campaign's message and digital outreach program and be a sterling ambassador for our campaign. Read the detailed job description. I hope you apply!
Meanwhile, here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.
Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!
In the real world: Montgomery BRT, Flower Theatre, Lion Ride, Northeast rail, McMillan sand, and activism training
Not so much happens in August around here, but a few great things do. Upcoming events include an exciting panel about Montgomery's BRT plan, Dan Reed's charrette on Silver Spring's Flower Theatre, activism training for Pro-DC, the first public meetings about a major study of the Northeast Corridor rail, and a tour of the McMillan site.
Montgomery County, like many suburban areas, has long been stuck in a cycle of car dependence, where any growth brings more traffic. The Purple Line and a countywide BRT system could free the county to add jobs and residents in a walkable way.
People have been discussing the Purple Line for years, but the BRT network has recently joined it on the scene. On Wednesday, residents who helped devise the plan will talk on a panel organized by the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
The panel is Wednesday, August 8, 7 pm (doors open at 6:30) at the Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place. RSVP here.
Imagine the Flower: Dan Reed's charrette on the Flower Theatre, also in Silver Spring, is tomorrow. How can the theater bloom again into a space that serves the community? People will discuss this on Saturday from 10-1 at Fenton Street Market, in Veterans Plaza at the corner of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.
Ride the Lion: Sunday is the Frederick Douglass Family Festival, at the historic site dedicated to the Lion of Anacostia. At 3 pm, WABA is organizing a leisurely bike ride through the neighborhood and along the river.
Be an activist: There are going to be a lot of big issues to decide this fall, including the zoning update and parking policies. Pro-DC is organizing an activism training for you to learn how to best testify at public meetings, recruit others and get involved.
The training is on Wednesday, August 15 at Laughing Man Tavern, 1306 G Street, NW near Metro Center Metro. Doors open at 6 and the workshop runs from 6:30-7:30. RSVP here.
Scope the NEC: Do you care about Amtrak's Northeast Corridor or any of the commuter railroads that ply its length? The Federal Railroad Administration is doing a comprehensive study of the corridor and what capital investments will help it continue to grow, serve more passengers, and serve existing passengers better.
There is a series of public meetings along the corridor, from Boston to DC, in coming weeks. DC's is on Tuesday, August 21 at the Council of Governments, 777 North Capitol St near Union Station. Baltimore's is Wednesday, August 15 at the University of Baltimore's Thumel Conference Facilities. Each has an open house from 4:30-7:30 pm and a presentation at 5:30. You can also send comments electronically.
Learn about McMillan: One of DC's biggest development proposals, and controversies, involves the McMillan San Filtration Site by North Capitol and Michigan Avenue. The master planner, a development partner, ANC Commissioner, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth will show you the site and the plans on Saturday, August 25, from 10 am to noon. Meet at First and Channing, NW, accessible by the H3/H4 and 80 buses. RSVP here.
These and other events are on the Greater Greater Washington calendar. Got an event we should include? Let us know at email@example.com.
Earlier this year, 3 gallons of gas clocked in at $12.45 in Washington. With gas prices likely to stay high for a long time, residents of our region need better transportation options that don't leave them dependent on cars.
$12.45 in gas goes quickly in a car, but makes a big difference in helping the Coalition for Smarter Growth push for better transit choices and transit-oriented development that gives people more choices in housing, retail and jobs across the Washington region.
CSG educates officials in DC about the growing number of car-
Can you give $12.45 to CSG today to keep them going?
I serve on CSG's advisory board and contribute (much more than $12.45) every year because CSG plays a vital role in shaping our regional transportation and land use policy. They produce thorough reports, action alerts, walking tours, testimony at hearings across the region, and much much more, all with a tiny staff of only 4½.
CSG's advocacy makes a big difference in policy debates in jurisdictions across the region. The information they create helps blogs and traditional reporters understand growth and transportation issues far more deeply than they otherwise would.
$12.45 isn't a lot for any one person, but if all of us chip in (or more if you can afford it), it'll add up and make a huge difference. Please donate $12.45 today!
Want to see the District of Columbia become even better than it is? I'm pleased to announce Pro-DC, a group formed to organize residents to support positive change in DC's zoning update and beyond.
Pro-DC is a project of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Greater Greater Washington. We believe in helping DC grow, thrive, and become more livable for everyone. I hope you will join the email list today.
The zoning update is helping make DC more inclusive, livable, and walkable through some very important policies, such as accessory dwellings, corner stores, and removing outdated parking requirements. These changes will help older residents age in place, help newer residents afford to live and stay in DC, encourage more retail, and make streets safer.
Members of Pro-DC don't need to agree with every element of the zoning update. I don't. But we also believe that DC will grow and change regardless of public policy, and that our zoning should shape that growth in a positive way that improves the quality of life, increases amenities, and strengthens affordability for all residents.
In coming months, there will be some major battles over the zoning update that cut to the heart of how people see DC's future. These positive changes won't become reality unless decision makers hear from residents who share the vision. I hope you will join the email list, and ask your friends to do the same.
2012 Livable Communities Leadership Award from the Coalition for Smarter Growth last Wednesday. Below are Goldman's remarks at the event.
I grew up in a middle class suburb of New York City that at the time would have been considered an exurb. My parents had left Brooklyn in the early 1970s and demonized the city and quite frankly everything urban.
We had our half acre in a suburban subdivision. Every house looked the same and for entertainment we could walk 20 minutes to the 7/11, our closest store. My parents drove me everywhere until at last at 16 I learned to drive and gained my independence.
Like many Generation X and Y members, I craved something different but didn't quite know what that was. It was living in New York City after college that exposed me to the benefits that come with high density transit oriented development. The principles are actually quite simple:
- A grid of streets
- A dense network of reliable and regular transit
- A mix of housing and office to keep the streets active and alive 18 to 24 hours per day,
- A density level that provides enough customers to support great creative retail.
- And finally, community amenities, parks, playgrounds, dog walks, recreation centers all built in a sustainable fashion that improves instead of destroys our environment and you have yourself a recipe for Smart Growth.
It's easy to recognize smart growth when it is done well. The struggle is how to impart these characteristics into a suburban instead of urban framework and of course how do you actually get something like this approved when almost every single regulation on the books is in direct conflict with the principals stated above.
And so that brings us to the story of White Flint.
Today, the Rockville Pike in White Flint represents the engineering and design direction that consumers demanded from the 1950s through the 1980s. Tomorrow it will become a model of how to reclaim suburbia in order to create order out of chaos. Within a half mile of Metro, White Flint will one day house 20,000 to 25,000 residents and up to 40,000 employees generating close to $7 billion of net new tax revenue for Montgomery County.
The plan includes more than 2000 affordable housing units and a sensational mix of local and national retailers. There will be a grid of streets and a dramatic increase in transit accessibility. There will be parks, community amenities, and every single building will be LEED certified and most will go well beyond that requirement.
In just 2 months, Federal Realty will break ground on our first phase of Pike & Rose, the rebirth of Midpike into a truly magical neighborhood. 900,000 square feet of development including 492 residential units a boutique 80,000 square feet office building and 150,000 square feet of new retail including an IPIC movie theater, and that's just our first phase. It is an exciting time to be working and/or living in Montgomery County.
And so how did this daring and visionary plan ultimately get approved in a county where dinner conversation regularly revolves around traffic?
It came down to civic outreach, education and engagement. People who typically have opposing viewpoints sat down together and learned about the principals of smart growth and how White Flint could be a win win for everyone. Transparency was a cornerstone of the Partnership's work and we went hand in hand with resident supporters to spread the word. We jointly reached out to the silent majority and engaged them in the political process. And the best part was that the silent majority was ready to be heard.
To provide some insight into the results of the Partnership's outreach effort, I would like to read excerpts from testimony submitted and read by two local residents.
First, from Jane Fairweather, a County resident and business person:
I am fortunate to live in the smart growth urban community of downtown Bethesda. I live at the corner of Woodmont and Montgomery Lane.Isn't that just great. This is from an ordinary citizen and resulted from broad outreach and education.
For 22 years, I lived in a wonderful stone colonial home off Bradley Boulevard where I spent my days driving.
I drove to the grocery store, the bakery, the dry cleaners and the book store. I drove to the hardware store, the drug store, the library, the gym and the hair dresser (obviously this is not my words). On the weekends, I drove to the movies and restaurants and of course to the gas station, early and often. In the suburbs, I was sleeping in my house but living in my car. And, since my neighbors were also car bound, we had very little time to interact with each other and be a part of the community we lived in.
While I knew some of my neighbors, finding time to hang out was difficult. Living in the suburbs meant that I spent at least 3 hours per day in my car and endless dollars on gas to fuel it. I clogged the streets and polluted the air, while ranting the entire time about the traffic congestion around me. I met the enemy and the enemy was me.
After 22 years, my husband and I found ourselves empty nesters and so we moved to a condo in downtown Bethesda. Now we walk to the grocery store, the bakery, the coffee shop, and the book store. We walk to the library and to the gym. I walk to the hairdresser, to 16 movie screens and dozens of restaurants that surround my condo.
Now, I laugh at the people who are sitting in their cars. I never get in my car unless I am working. If I didn't work, I wouldn't even own a car. I live, shop, recreate, relax, learn and exercise within a 12 block radius of my home. If I can't walk there, I take the Metro, which is a ½ block away.
— We no longer need to "drive there" because we "live there."
The following testimony comes from someone who lives in White Flint already:
I am here to ask you to improve the exceedingly inhospitable stretches of Rockville Pike and surrounding streets of the White Flint area. For the most part, these streets could not be more hostile to pedestrians. I am speaking about this based on personal experience.Because of these voices and countless others, the Sector Plan was approved. Its ultimate success will depend heavily on a continuous drum beat of support from local activists like yourselves and a smart and engaged community.
Last year, while crossing Rockville Pike at Hubbard Drive in my wheelchair, to go from Starbucks back to my apartment, I was hit by a car. Today, Rockville Pike is designed for high speed traffic. Due to the near total absence of pedestrians, the simple fact is that drivers on the Pike are not on the lookout for pedestrians.
Fortunately I was not seriously injured, but I ask you to please remember those of us who cannot, or choose not to travel short distances by car. A pedestrian friendly design would enhance my personal safety, and would also result in less traffic by eliminating today's pattern of people driving literally across the street when walking would be eminently more practical.
I ask that the next time you drive down Rockville Pike you envision what it is like for me to get around. Perhaps even borrow a wheelchair and spend the day navigating between housing, strip malls, and the expansive parking lots with no sidewalks. Then think about the possibilities. You hold the power, please use it well.
There are still those that believe the auto should be the central and defining element of urban planning. Until such time that transit and walking are raised to the same level of importance, we will all struggle to win approval and to build great new urban places.
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