Archives November 2014

Urban Road Code PASSES!

Dear Friends – I love going out with a bang!  First, we made great progress on the issue of Old Georgetown Road’s design and now, the County Council has ensured that county roads in our urban nodes will have stricter requirements to ensure pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Yesterday, the County Council voted unanimously to enact the amendments to our Road Code that we’ve been telling you about for nearly a year.  Under the deft leadership of Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer, the Council has sent a a major signal that all users of our roads – not just those in cars – are to be valued and kept safe.  Take a moment to thank them by sending an email (just click on their names) to Councilmember Berliner, Councilmember Riemer or the entire County Council.

We so appreciate their work on behalf of not just White Flint but every county resident who wants a more vibrant, walkable, safe community! Learn more about the road code changes by clicking here. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Why Narrower Travel Lanes Should be Required

Jeff Speck is one of our nation’s leaders in city planning and urban design. A month or two ago, he wrote the following:

the single best thing we can do for the health, wealth, and integrity of this great nation is to forbid the construction, ever again, of any traffic lane wider than 10 feet.

And, then, he backed this statement up with research, science and engineering.

Ten foot travel lanes frighten many folks – click here to better understand them, and understand why they’re right for White Flint moving forward.  Click here.

Show Your Support of the Urban Road Code Bill 33-13

Calling all who are interested in making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists!

There will be an upcoming vote on the Urban Road Code Bill 33-13 by the county council tomorrow and we need all those who know how important it is to improve our current county road code standards to show their support of the bill. Bill 33-13, introduced by Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer, will help lower speed limits, make our street intersections safer, and narrow lane widths on county roads. We want our streets to be as complete as possible so they are safe for all.

The best way to show your support is to email the county council at county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov  and let them know you support Bill 33-13.

Lowering Speed Limits Saves Lives

Vox.com is one of the newer online news outlets and they cover a range of topics.  Over the last week, however, they’ve run pieces focused on a few New Urbanist trends around the country.  One particularly striking image highlights how much public space we turn over to cars – and, therefore, how little is left for the rest of us. To see that, click here.

But, an even more fascinating article is entitled, “New York City lowered its speed limit to 25. Other cities should do it, too.”  We’ve made much of the fact that Rockville Pike through White Flint has a speed limit of 40, where the same road transitions to 25mph a few miles south in downtown Bethesda.  Not only do these changes foster the perception of a safer pedestrian environment – they actually are safer for pedetrians.  As the Vox.com piece highlights, a pedestrian would have a 95% chance of survival if struck by a car traveling 20mph, as opposed to a 15% chance of survival if struck by a car traveling at 40mph.  Lower speed also reduce the number of car accidents and the severity of those that occur.

London has reduced many of its speed limits to 20mph and here’s what they’ve found:

And their findings were unambiguous. For drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, casualties (a category that includes both deaths and injuries) dropped by 41.9 percent in the new speed zones compared to other areas, with all the new zones leading to 203 fewer annually in total. Deaths declined by 35.1 percent, with 27 fewer annually.

Read the full piece by clicking here and let us know what you think.

At Least One Bike-Friendly Community in Every U.S. State

Yesterday, the League of American Bicyclists released their 2014 list of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC). With this new list, that means that all 50 U.S. states have at least one Bicycle Friendly Communities, which is great.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, BFC are defined as including elements such as but not limited to “meeting or exceeding the standards of the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, “various types of on-and-off street bicycle facilities,” “Street network is well connected,” have Safe Routes to School programs, and have Bike to Work Day events. Check out League of American Bicyclists for more information about what makes a  BFC.

Maryland is pretty well-represented – including by a couple of White Flint neighbors, Rockville and Bethesda, both at Bronze status.  We’ve got lots of room for improvement. No Maryland jurisdiction reaches Platinum status (or Gold… or Silver…).  Our work is cut out for us.

This Friday: Deadline to Help Shape Rapid Transit

From our friends at Communities for Transit (click here to see their full page on this important subject):

NOMINATE YOURSELF: Serve on a Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Advisory Committee

Do you think Montgomery County needs better public transit? Do you want to help County planners design a bus rapid transit system that is cost effective, reduces trip times for riders, and makes it safer to get to stops? If you answered “yes”, then we at Communities for Transit encourage you to apply for a seat on one of the new Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Advisory Committees (CAC) being created by the county.

What’s a Corridor Advisory Committee (CAC)? When the County Council voted unanimously at the end of 2013 to add bus rapid transit corridors to the master plan, it also called for the creation of advisory committees made up of residents, business owners and other relevant stakeholders, such as frequent transit riders, for each of the bus rapid transit corridors.

Where are the corridors? The first corridors to get CACs will be:

  • MD 355 North (Frederick Road/Hungerford Drive from Clarksburg to the Rockville Metro)
  • MD 355 South (Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue from the Rockville Metro to Bethesda)
  • US 29 Section 1 (Colesville Road from Burtonsville to New Hampshire Ave.)
  • US 29 Section 2 (Colesville Road from New Hampshire Ave. to downtown Silver Spring)
  • MD 97 North Section 1 (Georgia Avenue from Olney to Connecticut Avenue)
  • MD 97 North Section 2 (Georgia Avenue from Connecticut Avenue/Aspen Hill Shopping Center to the Wheaton Metro)
  • MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road from the Rockville Metro to the Wheaton Metro)

What’s my commitment? Each CAC will be made up of about 40 members and will meet every other month beginning in the early winter. At each meeting, you will exchange information and ideas with transportation agency representatives, community residents and transportation system users. You will help keep the community informed about the proposed bus rapid transit system.

Do I need to be an expert about bus rapid transit? No. If you live and/or travel along any of these corridors, you can make a valuable contribution to a CAC. Of course, if you have first-hand experience with transit systems, that would be very useful as well. Communities for Transit staff will be available to help answer questions along the way.

How do I apply? DEADLINE is November 21, 2014. You can nominate yourself for a seat on one of the CACs by filling out the nomination form here.

  • If you live in a neighborhood with an active civic association along one of the corridorssubmit your self-nomination form to your civic association president. If you do not know your civic association, please click here for a searchable map. If you do not know your homeowner’s association, please click here for a searchable map. [Contact Geri Rosenberg at Communities for Transit– grosenberg@communitiesfortransit.org if you need information about your local civic association]
  • If you want to be considered for one of the “at-large” seats on a CAC, send your self-nomination form to Tom Pogue at Montgomery County’s Dept. of Transportation. His contact information is on the nomination form.
  • If you represent a business along one of the corridors, send your self-nomination form to your Chamber of Commerce.

Questions? Contact Geri Rosenberg at grosenberg@communitiesfortransit.org or call 301-273-3081 and we’d be more than happy to help you through the process.

6 “Progressive” and Beneficial Pedestrian Infrastructures

We are always trying to find ways to make our cities more pedestrian friendly. Here are some interesting, progressive pedestrian focused infrastructures that we could use in our urban areas throughout Montgomery County:

1)   Protected left turn

The Next city article pointed to the fact that left turn crashes are leading causes of pedestrian deaths. If there are protected left turns, which means green arrows signaling a left turn, this is one way to prevent pedestrian causalities.

2)   “Pedestrian Head-starts”

Another strategy is to give pedestrians some sort of leeway before motorists are allowed to turn red. Also, installing “No Turn On Red” signs is another easy fix to prevent motorists from turning on red, giving pedestrians more time and feeling more comfortable crossing the road.

3)   Raised crossings and intersections

This type of infrastructure allows pedestrians to appear taller, making them more noticeable while slowing down cars when they go over the bump.

4)   Neckdowns or curb extensions

Neckdowns can be used to supplement the raised crossings. Neckdowns are extended curbs the come out to the intersection.

5)   Protected intersections

Protected intersections are design to both extend protected bike lanes and help ensure safety for pedestrians. The protected intersections include the “corner refuge island,” which are curb extensions that happen at all four corners of the intersection. Bike lanes go through the center.

6)   “The Barnes Dance” or pedestrian scramble

And finally, “The Barnes Dance” or the pedestrian scramble “restricts right turns on red, and turns the whole intersection into a walkers-only zone for the length of a long signal.”  Pedestrians end up crossing the streets diagonally in a X formation.

The Shaping of Rapid Transit

Yesterday, Kelly Blynn (our friend from Coalition for Smarter Growth) posted a great piece on the status of our county’s Rapid Transit project. Like Old Georgetown Road, it’s critical that this infrastructure is built properly the first time both for efficiency and to responsibly use our tax dollars.  Kelly lays out where we are and includes references to White Flint — our stretch of MD-355 is scheduled to be one of the first routes built.  Read her full piece on Greater Greater Washington by clicking here.