Archives February 2015

Bus vs Train

A common belief is that sophisticated Montgomery County residents won’t take a bus. Sure, they’ll take metro downtown, but Bus Rapid Transit? Many think it’ll never happen.

According to this article on City Lab, the reality is different than the prevailing assumptions. One study showed that quality of service matters most, not the type of transport. Great service on a Rapid Transit System with a dedicated lane will attract riders.  Another study demonstrated that when you ask people what features they prefer in a transportation system, light rail exhibits no advantage over BRT.

What does this mean? If the Montgomery County Rapid Transit System offers fast, attractive, reliable service, people will use it  Of course, smart marketing will also be critical, but heck, if marketers can make kale a desirable veggie, they can certainly sell the many benefits of a sleek, modern, bus-centered transit system.

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How did jaywalking become a crime?

“In the early days of the automobile, it was drivers’ job to avoid you, not your job to avoid them,” says Peter Norton, a historian at the University of Virginia and author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. “But under the new model, streets became a place for cars — and as a pedestrian, it’s your fault if you get hit.”

Click here to read the forgotten history of jaywalking.

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Activating Wall Park

Last week, a dozen people from M-NCPPC, Department of Recreation, Councilmember Roger Berliner’s office, and Friends of White Flint met to brainstorm how to activate Wall Park this summer. (For those not up-to-date on their buzzwords, activation, in this instance, means maximizing the effectiveness of the park, getting more people using the park, and making the park the place where people want to relax and play.)
The meeting started with a quick review of the long-range vision for the park, which includes active areas such as dog parks, exercise areas, a green lawn for events and pickup sports, as well as areas for more contemplative activities such as walking in the woods. Implementation of the long-range plan for Wall Park requires streets to be straightened and parking garages built, among other things, so the focus was on how to make Wall Park a wonderful, dynamic, and welcoming urban park now.
Everyone agreed that anything done now to improve Wall Park must be sustainable, ensure the park is safe, have an attractive appearance, and be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Community input and support of park improvements and programming is essential.
M-NCPPC declared its goal to have programming in the park starting in June. Some of the ideas suggested were:
  • Weekly Grill nights when people would be encouraged to bring food to barbecue on grills at the park
  • Improved exercise facilities
  • Completing a walking trail around the perimeter of Wall Park
  • Installing a unique, interactive art piece
  • Temporary skateboard ramps
  • Pop-up Dog Parks on a regular schedule
  • Partnering with the Farmers Market to encourage folks to picnic in the park after they buy their food at the market
  • Bonfires
  • Lawn games
Friends of White Flint invited M-NCPPC to make a brief presentation at the Friends of White Flint meeting in March and ask the community to add their ideas for programming to this list.  (The meeting will be held March 25, 2015, 7:00 pm at Federal Realty which is on the back side of Congressional Plaza on East Jefferson Street.)

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“The Power of Uniqueness”

Creating a sense a place is extremely important for a community like Pike District. We want to make this place a distinctive destination, a place people want to come explore, live, work, and play.

Ed McMahon, an Urban Land Institute fellow, gave this inspiration TEDx Talk about creating a community with a unique sense of place in this new economy.

At one point,  McMahon says “The more any community … looks just like every other community, the less reason there is to go there. On the other hand, the more a community enhances its distinctiveness that’s natural, architectural, cultural, artistic…the more people want to go there.” This speaks directly to the elements we are bringing to our community. It is true that place matters!

Check out the video below!

This ‘n’ That

  • Bethesda Now wrote a lovely piece about the pioneer residents of Pike and Rose the other day. (Read it here.) Eventually, more than 14,000 residential units are planned for the White Flint Sector Plan, 9,800 of which will not have existed prior to 2010.
  • Speaking of Pike and Rose, Stella Barra Pizzeria and La Madeline are now open.
  • Finally, here’s a blog post from Greater Greater Washington that attempts to answer the question, “How should Montgomery County fund and build Bus Rapid Transit?”

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Community Meeting – March 25

You are cordially invited to a Friends of White Flint Community Meeting to be held Wednesday, March 25, 2015 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Federal Realty located at 1626 East Jefferson Street in Rockville.  We look forward to hearing presentations from many of the property owners in the Pike District, learning more about future development plans, and discussing both who is considered to be a member/supporter of Friends of White Flint and what our name should be in light of the change of nomenclature to the Pike District.  Of course, we’re also eager to hear what’s on the minds of the people and businesses who live in and around the White Flint area.

If you have any questions about the meeting or want to suggest a topic for discussion, please don’t hesitate to email me, Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of Friends of White Flint, at amy.ginsburg@whiteflint.org.

Thanks, and I hope to see you on March 25th!

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What to do on a snow day

On a lovely snow day like today, wouldn’t it be great to live in a community in which you could walk to the grocery store or cure cabin feature with a short stroll to a movie theater or restaurant? Someday, we’ll have exactly that in the Pike District. We partially have it now, with North Bethesda I and Pike and Rose, and over the next decade or two, the White Flint area will become ever more walkable … even on snow days.

But if you’ve shoveled out your car, or are fortunate enough to already live in walking distance of the current fabulous Pike District restaurants, here’s a few ideas for making the most of your snow day.

Pike and Rose

Catch a movie at Ipic

Grab food and a drink at Del Frisco’s Grille, City Perch, Summer House, Stella Barra Pizzeria, Starbucks, Tutti Fruiti, or Chipotle

North Bethesda  Market

Stock up for a marathon baking session at Whole Foods  Market

Enjoy a drink or food at Paladar, Brio, or Seassons 52

And if you lose power and need a place to stay, don’t forget about the Bethesda North Marriott.

 

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What makes a place a place?

You may have heard of a concept called “placemaking.” While it sounds like a trendy, made-up word, it’s actually the ultimate foundation of the White Flint Sector Plan. No doubt you’re eager to learn more … (And let’s face it; outside it’s single digits with a real snowstorm on the way, so what else are you going to do?) … so here’s a quick Friends of White Flint primer on placemaking.

 

According to Wikipedia, placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.  According to your fearless leader of Friends of White Flint, placemaking is, quite simply, how the physical parts of an area — buildings, parks, paths, etc. — and the people who live, work, and play there create that lovely, warm, fuzzy feeling of community.

Placemaking isn’t just tossing together a square of green grass, sidewalk cafe, and apartment building and calling it a neighborhood.  Placemaking is about creating a Quality Place, a space where, according to Better Cities and Towns,  “people, businesses, and institutions want to be. Such places often are alluring; they have pizzazz.”

Placemaking, says the Project for Public Spaces, shows “planners, designers, and engineers how to move beyond their habit of looking at communities through the narrow lens of single-minded goals or rigid professional disciplines. … Experience has shown us that when developers and planners welcome as much grassroots involvement as possible, they spare themselves a lot of headaches. Common problems like traffic-dominated streets, little-used parks, and isolated, underperforming development projects can be avoided by embracing the Placemaking perspective that views a place in its entirety, rather than zeroing in on isolated fragments of the whole.”

Isn’t that what Friends of White Flint is truly about? Residents, homeowner associations, businesses, government planners, and developers collaborating to revitalize our community, turning aging strip malls and acres of asphalt into our place.

We’ll be writing more about placemaking over the coming weeks, but if you just can’t wait, here are a two links you may find interesting.

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/2014/08/19/placemaking-done-right-three-successful-approaches/

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2013/11/01/mit-study-benefits-of-placemaking-go-deeper-than-better-places/

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