A public draft of the Complete Streets Design Guide is now available for review.

Montgomery County is developing a new approach to designing county roads using a concept called Complete Streets, roadways that are designed and operated to provide safe, accessible, and healthy travel for all users of the roadway system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists. On a Complete Street, it is intuitive and safe to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to school. Click to read the newly released Complete Streets Design Guide.

  1. Safety – maximize safety for all (pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles),
  2. Sustainability – enhance ecological functions and economic appeal of a streetscape, and
  3. Vitality – create streets that are great, dynamic places.


In July, a formal public hearing will be provided by the Montgomery County Planning Board with additional opportunity for public comment. Planning Board work sessions will follow in September, with transmission to the County Council for their review anticipated in January 2021.


For more information, you are encouraged to contact either of the two co-Project Managers listed below:
Montgomery Planning – Steve Aldrich (301) 495-4528 Email
Montgomery County DOT – Andrew Bossi (240) 777-7200  Email

AARP Understands Complete Streets

AARP created a slide show that vividly shows why incomplete streets are so dangerous … not just for those 50+ but for everyone. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe, convenient travel for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation, including walking, cycling, driving automobiles, or riding public transportation.

Do any of the photos in this slide show look familiar? We’ve got similar sights and scenes in the Pike District. That’s why we are continuing our work with our successful Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign. See the slide show here.


How can we design a safer Pike District?

Bike networks

A recent article in The City Fix lists seven ways to make a city safer.  If you have a minute, it’s a well-written, informative piece.

And if you don’t have a minute, here are quick bullet points on the seven principles:

1.  Avoid urban sprawl.

2.  Slow down road traffic.

3.  Ensure main streets are safe for everyone, not just cars.

4.  Create dedicated space for pedestrians.

5.  Provide a safe, connected network for cyclists.

6.  Ensure safe access to high-quality public transport.

7.  Use data to detect problem areas.

Update on the Urban Road Code Bill 33-13

This morning, the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee is meeting to discuss the amended Bill 33-13: Streets and Roads- Urban Road Standards and Pedestrian Safety Improvements. The committee meeting will take place at 9:30 am and will be televised on County Cable Montgomery (CCM), as well as available for viewing on the county council’s website.

Councilmember Roger Berliner and Councilmember Hans Riemer first introduced the bill to the County Council in late 2013. The first public hearing on the bill took place in January 2014. Many community organizations, individuals, residents, and civic associations sent in testimonies supporting the need for updated urban road standards and providing suggestions for improvements on the bill. Since the bill was introduced to the County Council, a multi-agency workgroup was formed to discuss, refine, and improve it. Revisions to the bill were put forth by the workgroup, which will be what the committee discusses this morning.

The bill is designed to provide standards that will make the roads in our urban areas become complete streets, which are defined as streets accessible to all users – driver, pedestrians and bicyclists alike. The bill focuses on our streets in the Metro Station Policy Areas and Road Code Urban Areas designated by Council resolutions.  White Flint will be one of these areas so it’s important to keep our eyes on the policy.

Some of the changes to the bill include the maximum target speed, narrower lane width, and narrower curb radii, strengthened language of pedestrian and bicycling facilities, and the requirement that MCDOT creates a complete streets design guideline.  Pertinent to our discussion about the design of Old Georgetown Road, this bill will only address county roads.  Old Georgetown Road, and Rockville Pike for that matter, are both state-controlled roads that will not be subject to these amendments.  But, the hope and presumption is that the state will be swayed by our  municipality’s emphasis placed on these design elements.

Stay tuned for more information about the next steps for the amended bill. In the meantime, click here to read the new bill and click here to see our blog posts from last year on the subject.

Bike Commuting Rate in DC Doubled in Last 4 Years

The rate of bike commuting in Washington D.C. and NYC has doubled in the last four years. With new biking infrastructure such as Capital Bikeshare, designated/protected bike lanes, buffer zones, and cycle tracks, the occurance of commuting cyclists has increased from 2.2 percent in 2009 to 4.5 percent in 2013 in Washington, D.C. At this rate, Washington, D.C. becomes second to Portland, Oregon as a “bike commuting hub” amongst U.S. cities.

As our neighboring city continues to increase its biking infrastructure, we hope here in the White Flint sector that this infrastructure will flourish as well. It is extremely important that the infrastructure in an area addresses the demands and needs of its residents, in this case, cyclists. As more individuals in the White Flint sector continue to use alternate forms of transportation, we must make sure our infrastructure can support their choices. This is why we need to continue to advocate for pedestrian and bicyclist safety and strong infrastructure. Check out some of Friends of White Flint’s points of focus on this topic that we hope to bring to the attention of our county stakeholders.

Updates From the Great MoCo Bike Summit

We attended the Great MoCo Bike Summit on Saturday. About 70 people attend the event, with about half that decided to join the community bike ride from Silver Spring along the Capital Crescent trail to the Jane E. Lawton Recreational Center in Bethesda. The event began with an introduction from Councilmember Hans Riemer. Riemer discussed that the essential parts of boosting biking culture will be to bring changes to the urban areas throughout the county, to major commuter routes, and to create recreational areas that are conducive to biking.

Shane Farthing, from Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), discussed the types of people that policymakers and enthusiastic bikers should try to reach out to in the community. WABA found that 11,700 Montgomery County residents are biking supporters, people who have expressed interest in some of WABA’s programming. There are four types of individuals related to biking: no way, no how; interested but concerned; enthusiastic and willing; and fearless and strong. To boost biking in the county, we need to reach the 60% of the population that fall in the interested but concerned category. These people may have not considered biking, are not safe biking, do not feel safe biking, or do not feel comfortable biking. The first few steps in changing resident’s behaviors is to provide them with information and to get them to question their current routines that may involve vehicle transportation. Then safety concerns need to be address, including perceived safety. Essentially, to boost bike culture means we need to be able to change our lifestyle, our routines.

Dave Anspacher, from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), discussed the more policy side of boosting biking culture in the county. The county received a grant from the Council of Governments to complete a Network Connectivity Study that studies the level of traffic stress experienced in certain areas.  The county is able to see areas where connecting islands of safe bike routes or walking routes need to be connected in the future. The pilot study was a part of the Bethesda Downtown Plan. The next step the county needs to take is to update the County Bikeway Plan, which was last updated in 2005.

Pat Shepherd, the Bikeways Coordinator for MCDOT, discussed that the county is focusing on implementing buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks currently. These are what residents have asked for. Fred Lees, Traffic Engineer, also discussed the resurfacing of streets that is taking place creating bike lanes (such as the Marinelli Road proposed bike lanes).

Anne Root, coordinator of the Capital Bikeshare program at MCDOT, really focused on the fact that the Bikeshare program is another public transportation system. It helps increase public health, decrease vehicle occupancy, and boost economic development. As we have discussed in past posts, biking can help bring profit to businesses because bikers are more likely to make more than one stop along strip of stores than a driver who will want to stay in close proximity to their parked car. Bikeshare sent a survey to their 2013 annual members, and 40% of the respondents said they made at least one trip they would have never made because of the bike, which are called “induced” trip, inducing people to spend money. The Bikeshare program has reduced 4.4 million driving miles across the Washington area, cutting back the vehicle traffic that has overcome this area.

Near the end of the summit, a resident from White Flint, discussed the need to bring more biking infrastructure to the White Flint sector. Right now, Nebel Street is the only proposed area that will have bike lanes.  Jack Cochrane from MoBike agreed with the statement and added that we should think about adding some new facilities in the White Flint area that are not necessarily part of the plan.

This is where the Urban Road Code bill that Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner are working on comes in. Updating the codes will allow for more biking infrastructures to take place. The council needs to hear from residents to understand how important these improvements will be for them.

Businesses and Bike Lanes

We have focused before in past posts on the benefits of bike lanes for businesses. Businesses, however, often do not like changes that provide any thought of risk to their business and to their profit. Creating protected or dedicated bike lanes on streets can pose potential risks for businesses’ profit. But in the long run, we see that there are many more benefits for businesses to accept bike lanes and bike access to streets outside their business storefronts. Biking allows more people to move more efficiently around the city, reduces traffic, and perhaps the most important aspect is that bikers are more likely to stop more at businesses because they can move more freely in an area than one can with a car. Businesses do see the risk in bike lanes taking away parking or stopping areas in front of their stores. Michael Andersen, writer for PeopleForBikes, discussed that there are two ways to positively approach the creation of dedicated bike lanes.

Governments should act in the public interest of making complete streets accessible to all. And, businesses should have public interest in mind as well but should know that the government is willing to help them get their needs met too.

The Jefferson Hotel in D.C. provides a good example of what it is like for a business or service provider to accept bike lanes and fight for their needs as well.  The Jefferson Hotel is prominent hotel on M Street NW close to the White House. A dedicated bike lane was created right outside the hotel, taking away the access for taxis and cars to pull up to the front door. John Stokes, the Director of Risk Management for the hotel, understood the importance of having bike lanes in DC, allowing people to get around the city more efficiently. He decided to not fight the bike lanes but to ask the government to allot the hotel two spaces for standing cars alongside 16th Street NW. Stokes believes that the bike lane is an opportunity, something they can work within and not fight against it.

Bike lanes are extremely important to our White Flint district residents, which is why they are incorporated in many of the Sector plans.  We hope that our current businesses and future businesses will welcome these bikes lanes and understand the benefits. But, we need to be on the lookout for ways to maximize their potential.

Stay tuned until tomorrow for an update on the Great Montgomery County Bike Summit from this past Saturday, where these issues were discussed in great importance.

If We Design for Walkability, Will You Actually Walk?

The new street and sidewalk grid that is coming to the White Flint district will bring many positive features to our area. The grid is designed around the beneficial walkability elements that we hope to encourage residents to follow throughout the region. These development projects and road projects use various walkability strategies that work for many areas across the world but the success of the new White Flint district really comes down to the question of whether people will actually walk or bike around the new projects, sidewalks, and bike lanes being built.

Steve Snell focused on this issue in his recent blog post. Snell discussed three main elements of walkability of which many city planners or community developers focus on. The first is the “physical access and infrastructure” of roads, streets, and sidewalks. We want narrow enough streets and wide enough sidewalks in order to feel comfortable and safe enough to walk and bike around our neighborhoods. The second element is places and things to attend, such as restaurants, goods and services, grocery stores, bookstores, and public spaces. The third element is “proximity.” In order for people to want to walk somewhere, these goods and services must be in close proximity, often about 10 minutes is the limit  people to want to walk. These are all important elements for walkability but there are other things that are often overlooked, according to Snell.

These elements include the physical appearance of where one is walking. If an area is walkable in its physical infrastructure, it may not be walkable in its appearance or appear unsafe. Or, perhaps, driving is too expensive especially as gas prices continue to rise. Or, do the residents have a disposition to walk and explore? Snell poses that city planners must truly understand why residents are walking in their cities and neighborhoods when they are planning to develop new urban designs. It is also important to understand if residents will actually walk, once the infrastructure is there.

With the help of Friends of White Flint, our White Flint Sector Plan incorporated the wants and needs of the residents, community members, and businesses. The Plan then reflects how each of these individuals are oriented towards walkability. The Plan indicates the need for the White Flint area to have a more connected street grid that promotes walkability because we know now that our residents, community members, and businesses are oriented towards walking.

“Road Diets” in NYC

As Mayor Bill De Blasio begins his role as Mayor of New York City, people are now examining all the changes the last mayor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, brought to the city.

Bloomberg and his staff succeeding in changing the built environment of New York City to better the safety and well-being of its residents. His team, including former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, were able to change the infrastructure of many roads and streets around the city to help pedestrians and bikers feel welcomed in their city. These changes, often called “road diets”, “shaved off excess space,” providing pedestrian-friendly spaces to once unsafe, car-centric streets. Branden Klayko provided before and after pictures of 25 areas throughout the city that show these road diets and pedestrian plazas.

Check out these amazing before and after pictures! The changes shown in these pictures are truly aspiring for us here in White Flint.


Why is the U.S. More Car-Dependent than Europe?

Car-centric travel was once the model every city, town, and country wanted to follow. In the height of motorization, the U.S. became the role model for the rest of the world for car production and travel. This gave room for other parts of the world to develop other strong modes of transportation. We began to see Europe focus their attention on a more balanced transportation system that encouraged pedestrian and bicycle friendly forms of transit much earlier than the U.S. Only recently has the U.S. and its policies focused on the need for complete streets.  Americans are extremely dependent on cars for transportation, but we are learning as time goes on why we need to focus transportation planning and funding on more infrastructures than roads for cars. But why did the U.S. become more car-dependent than Europe? What elements allowed the U.S. to develop this way? According to Ralph Buehler, there are 9 reasons why this trend happened.

  • Mass motorization– Mass motorization occurred earlier in the U.S. than other countries. In addition, Americans in general have “greater personal wealth” than Europeans, which allows households to purchase more cars more often.
  • Road standards– Related to mass motorization, the U.S. had to adapt its streets and roads to allow for cars to thrive in cities across the country. Infrastructures were created that would allow cars to succeed over any other means of transportation.
  • Vehicle taxes– Taxes on cars and gas are much higher in Europe than in U.S. Also in the U.S., parts of the gas tax are “earmarked” for road construction, which means certain programs or initiatives do not need to compete for funds. Europe does not function this way.
  • Interstate highway system– The highway system was created in the 1950s, allowing for suburban sprawl to explode across the country. As people spread out farther from cities, Americans became more dependent on cars to travel to services and amenities they need.
  • Government subsidies– Prices Americans pay for elements that allow us to drive (gas and tolls) only amount to “60 or 70 percent of roadway expenditures,” with the rest covered by other taxes they pay. In Europe, citizens pay more in taxes that are spent on road construction.
  • Technological focus– Americans focus more attention on “technological changes rather than altering behavior” to hinder the problems surrounding cars and car traffic. In Europe, actions are taken to change citizens’ behavior surrounding cars, such as creating “car free zones” or reducing speed limits in certain areas.
  • Public transportation– In general, the governments in Europe have supported public transportation for longer and with a higher monetary value than the U.S. government. The U.S. government often comes in too late to save a public transit system, allowing the system to slowly disappear.
  • Walking and Cycling– There are many European cities that have “implemented entire networks of bike lanes, separated cycle tracks, off-street bicycle paths, and traffic-calmed neighborhood streets.” The U.S. has only begun to incorporate these elements in redeveloping urban areas. The White Flint Sector has taken notice of this need to incorporate a walkable and bikeable street network or grid.
  • And finally, Zoning lawsRalph Buehler stated that the majority of European cities have a sustainable mixed-use land use planning that incorporates residential space with commercial and retail space. The U.S. has only begun to use this type of land-use planning. This is primarily due to zoning laws preventing commercial and retail spaces to exist in zoned residential areas.  Montgomery County is in the process of revising its own zoning code to bring this thinking into action.

The White Flint district faces many of these elements Buehler lists. With the sector plan, as well as the potential passing of the urban road code updates, we hope that we can start to shift the area’s reliance on cars as the main mode of transportation to a more walkable focus.