Recently, we have been discussing the County’s proposed Capital Improvement Program budget for 2015-2020. We know that the County has been emphasizing the need to invest in transit to bring redevelopment and growth here and we are thrilled by the robust inclusion of White Flint projects in the current version of the budget. Investing more in transportation is an important step in ensuring walkable and sustainable communities in White Flint and throughout the county, our mission here at Friends of White Flint.
If we want to maintain a pedestrian/cyclist-friendly approach to transportation throughout Montgomery County with a focus on sustainable and walkable communities, we must ensure that our transit projects adhere to this approach too. If you read this blog often, you will recognize that this idea of creating streets that not only focus on cars but also the people that use them falls under the model of complete streets. We want to urge the County to invest in projects that include complete streets such as building a better and connected transit system that will also allow pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely and securely. Road projects are necessary for the county but we must remember that these projects need to include elements that will help pedestrians and cyclists too.
Portions of this new proposed budget, however, may not fully represent this attitude or even some of the transit needs of the county that many residents find important, such as pedestrian and cycling issues. Some of the categorizing may not accurately reflect the projects contained within, as noted by Ben Ross in his recent Greater Greater Washington piece. For example, some projects listed in the “pedestrian improvements” category include “road widenings around new schools”, which was “previously classified as road projects.” Widening roads around schools and highways may not be beneficial for pedestrians or cyclists, groups of people we cannot ignore when it comes to transportation. Instead of spending county funds on projects like these, the Council should focus on a “better transit and a street network that works well for pedestrians and cyclists, not just for drivers,” – like the ones proposed to improve White Flint’s street grid and infrastructures.
How can you urge the County to focus more attention on pedestrians and cyclists? There are lots of ways. Sign up to testify before the County Council at one of their hearings on February 5th (1:30pm or 7:00pm) or February 6th (7:00pm) by calling 240-777-7803. Or email your thoughts to the Council at County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov. Finally, members can email us to have your thoughts incorporated into our testimony on February 5th.