Last night, volunteers from Coalition for Smarter Growth and Friends of White Flint (along with your intrepid FoWF executive director) launched the exciting Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign by hanging dozens of signs with safety tips and ways to get involved all around the Pike District.
Walkable may be one of the most over-used adjectives in the new urbanism realm, but that does not diminish its significance. Making it possible, even pleasurable, for people to walk to the office or farmers market or happy hour is the essential essence of a successful smart growth community like the White Flint/Pike District area.. Named a Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area in 2012, the Pike District is currently caught between its past as a car-oriented community and its future as a walkable community, yet significantly more people are now traversing streets that just a couple of years ago rarely saw a pedestrian.
Fortunately, many of the measures needed to make the Pike District more walkable are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. Montgomery County and the State of Maryland can create a more walkable Pike District for surprisingly little money and difficulty. Here’s how.
Improve pedestrian lighting. Right now, street lights are just that, lights for the street. We need lights for the sidewalk so pedestrians strolling at night can see where they’re going and cars can see them.
Make crosswalks more visible. Drivers on Rockville Pike and on many of the major streets in the White Flint area aren’t used to pedestrians walking alongside them since for decades, a pedestrian in that area was almost as rare as a great $5 Bordeaux. For the cost of a bucket of paint, unique crosswalks would draw attention to the fact that people now walk in the Pike District.
While we’re on the subject of crosswalks, they need to be at every intersection, and cross all the roads of each intersection. There are far too many intersections that have crosswalks on only a portion of their roads.
Make pedestrian signals automatic. Recently, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Friends of White Flint worked with SHA and MCDOT to change the pedestrian walk signals at Marinelli Road and Rockville Pike to automatic. While careful calculations are necessary to ensure traffic needs are met, it costs nothing to flip the switch to make pedestrian signals automatic like they are in nearly every urban area.
Improve sight lines by trimming trees and other vegetation so that drivers can actually see walkers.
Improve signage so that drivers are more aware that pedestrians will be crossing the street. Wayfinding signs could also be invaluable in directing people to cross where it’s safest.
Create pedestrian refuges in the median so that people crossing complex intersections with complicated traffic patterns have a back up option if they can’t make it across all the lanes of traffic.
Install mid-block crossings at some of the super blocks. A crosswalk at Executive Boulevard and Rockville Pike by North Bethesda Market is just one place where a mid-block crosswalk is needed.
Eliminate hot rights. Also called slip lanes, hot rights allow cars to make right turns at any time, as long as they yield to traffic. Unfortunately, they are a dangerous nightmare for pedestrians trying to navigate through an intersection.
A walkable Pike District has been the goal since the approval of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan. With the notable increase of walkers in the White Flint area and all the new development being built, now is the time to make the goal a reality.
To learn more or get involved in the Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign, visit www.PikeDistrictPeds.org. The Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign is a joint project of Friends of White Flint and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.