The White Flint Partnership, formerly the Collaborative, has been actively promoting a redesign of Rockville Pike, including stressing the use of transit lanes in the middle of the redesigned Pike, special bike-friendly intersections and lanes, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. The redesign was prepared by Glatting-Jackson, an influential walkability and transportation consulting firm whose other major transportation innovation (adding a robust network of streets to relieve the traffic burden on the Pike) the Board has eagerly embraced. Street design firm Vika has drawn several “sections” of a redesigned Pike which are available on the Partnership’s web site: www.whiteflintpartnership.org.
Friends of White Flint has joined the Partnership in advocating the bike- and pedestrian-friendly design. At the recent Pikes’ Peek road race, the redesigned Pike (at least the Glatting-Jackson version) was very popular.
As noted below, the Planning Board today appeared to reject the Glatting-Jackson redesign in favor of one with a combined bike and bus lane on the outside, or curb, part of the Pike. The expressed reasons for the rejection included the fact that curb lane shared bus and bike lanes would be more friendly for busses coming into the Sector from beyond the boundaries, traveling a few blocks along the Pike, and then turning off, and for local busses which stop at every intersection.
Partnership chair Evan Goldman, who is coincidentally also Co-Chair of Friends of White Flint, reacted strongly to the Board’s action: “We had never asked for them to remove their section, just to have this as an alternate given that it is more feasible from an engineering standpoint and has much greater civic and land owner support.” Goldman said. “Regardless of our disagreements over density, the design of the Pike seems to be something where we found general agreement.” Goldman urged the Board to “leave the sector plan open to a road section that is more feasible to achieve, includes dedicated bike lanes, dedicated transit lanes, the same number of through lanes, and the opportunity for a streetscape that will actually get pedestrians, cyclists, and retail users to use the Pike! The road section we are proposing is actually wider than staff’s so this is not an instance where land owners are trying to take the cheap or easy way out. This is a greater land dedication but will create the type of 21st Century Boulevard we have been talking about for 2 years!”
The issue will come up at tomorrow’s initial Friends of White Flint Speakers’ Series presentations. Metro Chairman Chris Zimmerman, who has a long background in both civic activism and New Urbanism redevelopment in Virginia, will likely be able to address the Board’s position on local vs. outside busses. Ian Lockwood, principal for the White Flint project for Glatting-Jackson, who has worked on the Pike redesign for two years, will also be a speaker, as will Don Briggs, Vice-President of Federal Realty Investment Trust, one of the members of the White Flint Partnership.
The event will be held at Dave & Buster’s in White Flint Mall at 8:30AM, tomorrow, May 1. More than 70 people are expected to attend.