Archives August 2014

Del Frisco’s Grille Slated for a Mid-September Opening in Pike & Rose

Bethesda Magazine’s, Bethesda Beat mentioned that Del Frisco’s Grille will be the first full-service restaurant to open in the Pike & Rose development. Del Frisco’s Grille plans to open Mid-September, making it the second restaurant to open in the development; Starbucks is the first in the Old Mid-Pike Plaza building. Del Frisco’s serves American style cuisine in a full-service restaurant. Del Frisco’s already has one other location in the D.C. area but this location will have floor-to-ceiling windows, with dark wood interior, and a large outdoor dining area.  Can’t wait to check it out!  Read the Bethesda Beat piece, which includes images, by clicking here.

It’s Time for a Name

For years, we’ve known that this place needs a name.  And, we’ve believed that the community should have input into what that name would be.  Our opportunity has arrived.

You’re invited to a Conversation on the Branding of the Pike on Thursday, September 11th from 6pm to 9pm at the offices of StreetSense in Bethesda.  This will be a fully interactive program that will really tap into participants’ thoughts and perceptions of a variety of naming/branding options for the White Flint Sector.

**PLEASE NOTE — this conversation will NOT be about changing the name of anyone’s postal address or neighborhood.  This is about having a productive, congenial discussion to find authentic options for the name of this new urban center – think of its purpose as being for business and marketing.

The presentation and forum will be facilitated by Holly Sears Sullivan, of Montgomery Business Development Corporation, and StreetSense.  All of the details – including how to RSVP – can be found in the invitation below (make it larger by clicking on it).

We’ll be talking more about what to expect at the forum during our next Friends of White Flint meeting!  It will be on Wednesday, September 3rd at 6:30pm.  Click here for more details!

WhiteFlint_evite_flyer_final

Why Not Build More Roads?

The traffic on Rockville Pike is only getting worse.  Just yesterday, BethesdaNow.com reported that our county’s second most congested intersection is where the Pike crosses Nicholson Lane (click here for that piece).

The White Flint Sector Plan includes a multi-pronged approach to improving our traffic, including building an actual street grid to diffuse it and beefing up transit options like Bus Rapid Transit.  But, I’m often asked “why not build more roads?”

The shortest answer to this question is that, aside from roads being incredibly expensive, “if you build it, they will come.”  What do I mean by that?  Wired Magazine has taken an in-depth look at this very concept, called induced demand:

[I]f there’s anything that traffic engineers have discovered in the last few decades it’s that you can’t build your way out of congestion. It’s the roads themselves that cause traffic.

The concept is called induced demand, which is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more. Though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, it is only in recent years that social scientists have collected enough data to show how this happens pretty much every time we build new roads. These findings imply that the ways we traditionally go about trying to mitigate jams are essentially fruitless, and that we’d all be spending a lot less time in traffic if we could just be a little more rational.

Read the full piece by Adam Mann, which includes more of the “why’s” and “what now’s” by clicking here.

“The Smart Crosswalk”

Ever felt like a crosswalk signal did not give you enough time to cross a street? Well, Singapore is taking a unique approach to address this problem. Singapore is now offering “a system to give certain pedestrians more time to cross.”

Singapore city planners have created this new Green Man Plus technology, which uses a special card like a “smart-trip” only for qualified individuals that will automatically call for additional time at pedestrian crosswalk.  The pedestrian taps the card right above the button you would press to change the signal. Once the card reader recognizes the card, it will add 3 to 13 seconds, depending on the size of the crosswalk, to the crossing signal. The signal will alert the pedestrian that time was added by making a sound and causing the card reader to light up. Qualified individuals include seniors or people with disabilities. Currently, the program is still in the pilot stage but Singapore’s Land Transit Authority (LTA) hopes to have 495 working green man signals running by the end of 2015.

Sounds like a great idea, perhaps we could use this here in the White Flint area. Let us know what you think about this new crosswalk system.  And, don’t forget that we talking about pedestrian/bicycling safety at our Friends of White Flint meeting next week!  Read more about it by clicking here.

Goodbye Surface Parking Lots

Folks who have heard me speak about the future of White Flint have heard me address the matter of surface parking lots.  At the start of sector planning, of the 430 acres identified around the White Flint metro station, 161 of them were surface parking lots.  Thirty-seven percent of our land was sitting empty most of the time as surface parking lots!  That’s a lot of space that could be used more efficiently and the ideas of infill and density were born for the area.

At the end of the build out, 20-30 acres will be for surface parking.  The rest of our cars will find spaces in parking garages, either under or attached to our destinations.  But, we’ll also be able to park once and walk to where we wish to go instead of having to drive from one end of the block to the other because a huge parking lot is in our way.

Earlier this summer, CityLab delved deeper into one perspective on surface parking lots.  Read their piece by clicking here.

We’ll be advocating for well-built, safe, and comfortable garages – will you be with us?  Our next business meeting is coming up on September 3rd.  Click here for more information on it.

 

New Montgomery County Bikeways Website

The Montgomery County Planning Department created a new website for information on the bikeways throughout Montgomery County. The website is complete with information on all existing and proposed bikeways, including shared use paths, bike lanes,  signed shared roadways, hard surface park trails, and cycle tracks and a great interactive map. Check it out!

Below you can see an zoomed-in image of the bikeways through the White Flint Sector.

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Read more on our thoughts on the existing White Flint bike infrastructure by clicking here, and read about some of the plans to improve it by clicking here

Check out the Renderings of the New AMP Music Venue

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Yesterday Bethesda Now posted the new renderings of the AMP music venue by Strathmore. Check them out here! AMP is located in the main commerical building in the Phase 1 of Federal Realty’s Pike & Rose and is slated to have 250 seats for music events. It can also be rented for private events!  AMP will open to rentals starting in late winter 2014 and will open for music events in March 2015.

Bike Share Programs Have Had Millions of Rides but No Fatalities

It was recently found that there still has not been a single fatality of a cyclist using bike-share across the 36 bike share programs in the United States. There has been an estimate of over 23 million rides across the bike-share programs in the U.S., which is a great thing to hear.

One reason that cyclists using bike-share bikes are less likely to get injured, or even worse, is because of the bikes themselves. The bikes are heavy and have wide tires that make it much harder for riders to travel fast. Also, some bikes come with lights already installed, making it easier for others to see these cyclists when they are riding. Some people, however, criticize these bike-share programs because they do not require riders to wear helmets.

Also, there is the idea that as biking becomes more popular among individuals for means of both transportation and leisure, drivers will get more used to bikers and will be more willing to share the road with them. As we have discussed in the past, the popularity around biking can even help give reason for more biking infrastructures that will ultimately encourage more safe biking.

We hope that The Capital Bikeshare program will continue to be prevalent in the county, especially in the White Flint sector. We also want riders to continue to feel safe riding their bikes in this area, especially with the biking infrastructure improvements coming to the sector.

Bike Infrastructure & More at the Implementation Committee Meeting

Last week, the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee held their monthly meeting and, after preliminary and general updates, we finally got more information on the latest plan for Woodglen Drive.  Here are our notes from the meeting:

  • Not much development activity since last month. Only item is that the Goddard School on Edson will be filing in the near future.
  • County White Flint Implementation Coordinator Dee Metz’s Update:
    • The County along with the White Flint Partnership filed for a TIGER grant to fund a study for BRT on 355. Expect to have a response by the end of September.
    • The County is working with the Stadium Authority to bid out the design work for the parking garage that will sit on the Conference Center property. Design work should start by the end of the year.
    • The County is continuing to coordinate with the Gables.
    • Dee did a bike tour of DC with WABA.  Said the bike tour was interesting.
    • The traffic study for White Flint is still in progress. In particular there was concern over Old Georgetown Road. FRIT and many residents would like to see Old Georgetown reduced to 2 lanes in each direction. The County is proposing 3 lanes in each direction based on input from MD SHA. The County has been revising its projections based on changes in the residential / commercial mix of projects in the pipeline. The County is trying to project out to 2042. Generally, SHA agrees with their traffic projections, but has challenged the County on plans if the projections are exceeded. SHA has thus asked for additional analysis. MC DOT and the County are working to better understand what SHA is asking for.   The County hopes to publish the traffic study by the end of the year.
  • Representatives of MCDOT were present and were asked to focus on  pedestrians and cyclists in addition to cars. Bruce Johnston of MCDOT explained that their designs are consistent with the Sector Plan and, in some facets, exceed the Plan, ie bike lanes on Marinelli and the introduction of cycle tracks.
    • Bruce noted that they are predicting 50/50 split in mode share by 2042, so they are not being conservative in their view towards an increase in non-auto trips. Dee reiterated that they do not control state roads. Evan Goldman noted that FRIT will push for 2 lanes in each direction on Old Georgetown, even if they have to go to the State / Governor. He noted it will take pressure from the community to make this happen.
    • Bruce noted that the additional phases of the western work-around are a ways off due to the slow acquisition of buildings like the VOB building.
  • The Manager of Pike & Rose spoke about tenants moving in to all floors of PerSei and that it’s been successful thus far. Looking forward to the entertainment and restaurants opening, beginning in September. Evan Goldman spoke about phase 2 of Pike & Rose and a commitment to biking facilities (bike racks) and Zip Car. Phase 2 residential units also offer fewer car spaces per unit .7 spaces per unit vs. 1 per unit in Phase 1. Evan discussed the need to fund a bikeshare station.
Update on Bike Infrastructure in White Flint
  • Bruce Johnston, Chief, Division of Transportation Engineering, and Patricia Shepherd, Bikeways Coordinator, were on hand to discuss improvements Marinelli Road, Woodglen Drive and Nebel Street.
  • Bruce quickly reviewed the bike lanes that were added to Marinelli Road when it was resurfaced. He noted that MC DOT is attempting to improve cycling infrastructure when the opportunities present themselves, and this was one of those opportunities. He noted that bike lanes on Marinelli Road were not part of the Sector Plan. This section is considered complete, though sharrows and bicycle signage should be added shortly on the east bound lane of Marinelli at the intersection with Rockville Pike.
  • Improvements to Woodglen between Nicholson Drive and Edson Lane were supposed to be completed almost a year ago. MC DOT is now presenting a new design based on community feedback, the desire to save some trees and the inability to move utilities. The new design presents the County’s first cycle track, a 2 way bike lane that will be separated from street parking and traffic by a 2 – 3 foot striped buffer with plastic posts. The cycle track will be on the west side of Woodglen Drive.
  • They are also working on the intersections at Edson Lane and Nicholson Drive, but did not present those designs. They intend to use green surface treatments at intersections in the bike lanes to increase awareness.
  • They also presented two designs for Woodglen Drive from Nicholson Drive to Marinelli Road. They worked with BF Saul / Brian Downie on the design. This section features a two way cycle track, but it is separated from on street parking and traffic by a 5 foot grass buffer. The 2 options presented only varied in whether the cycle track would be on the same grade as an adjacent shared use path. One design had the cycle track a few inches below the shared use path, the other had the cycled track at grade with the shared use path.
  • The improvements to Woodglen were well received by those in attendance and represent a huge improvement to the previous design. There will be a briefing on the Woodglen improvements at the Planning Board meeting on September 4th.
  • Nebel Street is currently being designed by DOT. There are two groups within DOT that are working on unique designs. MC DOT is trying to figure out whether a cycle track or bike lanes are better for Nebel. MC DOT is intent on designing solutions that are best for each type of road. MC DOT will share a design for public input once the designs have been finished and evaluated.
  • There will be a briefing on the Woodglen improvements at the Planning Board meeting on September 4th.
  • Sogand Seirafi from MC DOT was on hand to discuss a new pedestrian and bicycle facility improvement initiative that was proposed by Council Member Hans Riemer. The County Council has appropriated $375,000 for projects in five areas where the enhancement of bicycle and pedestrian traffic and safety is a priority. Those areas are: Glenmont, Grosvenor, Silver Spring CBD, Veirs Mill/Randolph, and Wheaton CBD.