Five Ways to Walkable

Walkable — I probably use that word more than any other when describing the future of the White Flint area. (Bike-friendly, vibrant, and transit-oriented are next on the list of most used words to describe the Pike District, in case you were curious.)
But how does a community become walkable? Do you just build some pretty sidewalks and call it a day?  According to this article, there are five things that make a community walkable.

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  1. High density for people and places.
  2. A mixture of homes, places to shop, offices, schools and open space, and those options are intermingled.
  3. A grid design for streets so connections are easy and plentiful.
  4. Buildings that sit up close to the sidewalk with transparent windows to keep eyes on the street and give a glimpse of what’s going on inside.
  5. Small block sizes and small-to-moderate street widths.
The plan for the Pike District does all those things, so we can look forward to a very walkable White Flint.

How do you make it easier to walk and bike around a community?

Let's choose a grid

According to this article, there are six things a community can do to encourage people to ditch heir cars and instead walk or bike as the go about their day. Here’s how the Pike District scores on each.

 

1) Stop building cul-de-sacs and bring back the grid

(Yes — the Pike District is developing a robust grid throughout the White Flint area.)

2) Change zoning rules to allow for density and mixed-use development.

(Yes — The 2010 Sector Plan did just that.)

3) Eliminate parking requirements

(Sort of — we’re definitely headed in the right direction.)

4) Put roads on a diet and make lanes narrower.

(Sort of — look for more of this in the future, especially on Route 355 and other main thoroughfares.)

5) Build protected bike lanes

(Yes — check out at Woodglen and Nebel and soon lots of other streets in the Pike District.)

6) Connect bike lanes to create usable routes

(Sort of — The County is working to make this a reality.)

 

 

 

To save or spend time; that is the question

Saving or Spending Time?

Saving or Spending Time?

When we talk about a particular area, are we looking to save time or spend time in that area? In other words, are we just passing through, like on I-270, or are we spending time, like we would in North Bethesda 1 or Pike & Rose?

This article in Better Cities suggests looking at our environment in terms of either Links, in which movement is prioritized as is saving time, or Places, in which destination space and spending time takes precedence.

This has many implications.  For example, speed. If you’re trying to create a Place, you need slower speeds. Slower speeds make people safer, so while cars are accommodated (they can still drive, albeit at 25 mph instead of 40 mph) they are not prioritized. People hanging out, walking, riding bikes, taking transit — that is the priority when you’re creating a Place.

Too often, traffic engineers think only about saving time getting from Point A to Point B. They fail to consider the many benefits of encouraging and allowing people to comfortably live, work, and play in their Place.  When we make people more important than cars, we create the walkable, sustainable, successful community in the White Flint area that we all want.

 

Positive Examples of Smart Growth in Our Neighboring Communities

The White Flint Sector can look to neighboring towns for some strong smart growth examples. According to an article from Grist, Bethesda and Silver Spring have become walkable new urbanist areas in Montgomery County because of their ability to implement smarter development strategies. Many suburbs in Montgomery County “have already been built up in the standard sprawl fashion, and the challenge now is to retrofit them into sustainable communities.” This is why various mass transit options, walkable sidewalks and bike lanes are so important to communities such as ours.

Surface parking lots are one the biggest challenges we have in the White Flint Sector to creating a “sustainable community.” To create our walkable and connected street grid, we must implement smarter growth opportunities to use these spaces more wisely. In addition, it is important to protect open space that already exists from becoming surface parking lots in the future. This is why keeping Wall Park and making it accessible for many types of community events is necessary.