One of the more frustrating elements of White Flint planning recently has been transportation planners’ proposal for renovating Old Georgetown Road, particularly as it approaches Rockville Pike. The original proposal was that the road should, essentially, be rebuilt twice. The first would get us halfway to a more pedestrian- and bicycling-friendly experience. Then, when usage data showed that people were walking and biking more, they would build out the rest – including dedicated bike lanes.
This concerns Friends because, certainly, if we aren’t offering walkers and bicyclists safe environments, they won’t get out of their cars. (That being aside from the waste of resources to build a road twice when once will do just fine, thank you). A recent piece in Better! Cities and Towns looked at which comes first — does pedestrian safety lead to more walking, or is it the other way around? The piece notes that, although Americans as a whole take merely 10% of our trips by foot, this number shifts dramatically when you look at different cities. What makes the statistic jump in many downtown areas? “[A]ll those cities have relatively compact downtowns with nearby housing, well-connected streets, and good pedestrian infrastructure… [they] also enjoy relatively good safety rates for walking,” says the author, Kaid Benfield.
So, are these cities safer because more people are walking and drivers are more used to paying attention? Or is it because they have relatively safe and convenient pedestrian environments that encourage more walking? Probably a little of both.
Read the full piece to see how the author reached this conclusion by clicking here.