Last week we discussed the County Bill 33-13: Streets and Roads- Urban Road Code Standards and Pedestrian Safety Improvements that is up for approval. The Council is holding a public hearing tomorrow evening, January 23rd, where testimonies will be heard on this bill, one of which will be from Friends of White Flint. The bill offers amendments to the current urban rode codes that have not be updated in several years. The main goal of the bill is to “to expand and enhance the county’s complete street policy and to facilitate the implementation of pedestrian friendly, bike friendly, walkable, livable urban areas as envisioned in several of the county’s approved master plans.” As Lindsay discussed last week, implementing a bill that focuses more on complete streets is extremely important for White Flint in our mission to create a sustainable and walkable community.
With this bill up for approval, however, it is important to consider how these standards and policies will affect all aspects of transit in the area such as freight or truck movement. Freight movement through city and urban streets is crucial but raises many issues, such as trucks possessing huge blind spots and wide turns that often cut off bike lanes or even popping up on curbs. These issues cause safety problems for other drivers, pedestrians, and bikers, not to mention noise and air pollution. Trucks are necessary for cities to exist because “[O]ur cities run on the goods these hulking trucks deliver.” Reducing the width of travel and turning lanes could have a detrimental effect on truck travel through our urban streets. Instead of viewing these issues as barriers to passing this bill, we should look to creative solutions that include both a complete street model and attention towards other necessary transit movements happening in Montgomery County’s urban areas.
New York City provides a great example of how a city can incorporate freight and truck travel into their building codes by including “onsite loading facilities as part of their design.” There are other ideas that cities could use to cut down on truck congestion and pollution without disturbing the necessary movement of goods from one place to another. These include using more smaller trucks to carry goods than one larger truck, delivering during off-peak hours, consolidation of goods from more than one company into one truck, or cargo bikes/ pedal-trucks.
Friends of White Flint supports complete streets in our urban areas, providing pedestrians and bikers with a more liveable, walkable, and safe community. But, our community is also comprised of businesses who need these deliveries made by large trucks, for example, and so we must also be conscious of how this complete streets model will affect all aspects of what we’re trying to build here. It’s to this end that we rely on the experts to find creative, forward-thinking solutions.