Archives May 2015

Placemaking revitalized Adelaide; it can do the same for the Pike District

Adelaide Transformed

Adelaide, Australia was once a town that no one would describe as hip and fun. Now, thanks to innovative placemaking and a “what-the-heck-let’s-try-it” attitude, Adelaide is now rated by the London Sunday Times as number one on its list of the best places to live in the world.

According to an article on citiscope.org, “Adelaide’s transformation is the product of simple and inexpensive strategies for activating its public spaces. It started a few years ago with light-weight interventions such as shutting down a street to cars for a night, giving it over to food vendors and musicians, and giving those commuters a reason to linger after work. It later evolved into a sustained effort to put placemaking at the heart of how Adelaide City Council engages with the public.”‘

Splash Adelaide, the name of this program, was a fast, anything-goes approach to placemaking. Splash Adelaide projects could break any city council policy, but not break the law, creating street parties, outdoor film screenings, spontaneous orchestral performances, and urban guerilla-style vegetable gardens.  Mistakes were encouraged, as a way for city administrators to learn how to do things differently. Because the programming was temporary and experimental, there was no huge risk.

Adelaide residents, businesses, and government officials thought that public participation in placemaking could be the best tool for building community and citizen capacity over time. They believed that Splash Adelaide would both transform Adelaide’s public spaces and empower citizens to become involved.

Now doesn’t that sound like something we want in the Pike District?

White Flint 2 Planning Begins in June

White Flint 2

In June, 2015, M-NCPPC staff is scheduled to begin work on a new sector plan for the area between White Flint/Pike District and the City of Rockville. The White Flint 2 Sector Plan will update a portion of the 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Master Plan and will build upon the  innovative vision outlined in the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.

The White Flint 2 Sector Plan area covers approximately 290 acres in a horseshoe shape on either side of Rockville Pike (MD 355). The plan area includes office buildings along Executive Boulevard, west of Hoya Street; Montrose Crossing Shopping Center and Pike Center along Rockville Pike; light-industrial and commercial properties along Parklawn Drive, south of Randolph Road; office uses along Executive Boulevard; and Randolph Hills Shopping Center and other light-industrial uses along Parklawn Drive.

The White Flint 2 Sector Plan will address issues related to growth and development, including:

  • What level of new development can the transportation network support?
  • How should Rockville Pike (MD 355) between the City of Rockville and County be coordinated and designed?
  • What transportation policies should be introduced or amended?
  • Should the White Flint Special Tax District encompass White Flint Phase 2?
  • How can uses on both sides of the MARC station and CSX tracks be integrated?
  • What is the role of the proposed MARC station and how should nearby properties outside of White Flint Phase I develop?

Friends of White Flint will keep you updated on White Flint 2, so don’t forget to Sign Up for our Weekly E-newsletter, Like us on Facebook, and Follow us on Twitter.

5 Traffic Myths

The Washington Post wrote about traffic myths on Sunday, and many of the myths have relevance in our beloved Pike District.

The myths are:

1. More roads = less traffic. 

2. Faster roads are more efficient roads. 

3. Changing lanes will get you there faster.

4. Traffic jams can happen for no reason.

5. Memorial Day is an especially dangerous time to travel.

Hope you’re enjoying a marvelous Memorial Day weekend.

A few factoids to enliven the conversation at your fun-filled holiday weekend activities

With all of us making plans to ride bikes, take walks, and dine outside at a favorite restaurant’s sidewalk seating on this holiday weekend, I thought I’d cite a few healthy living factoids that you can toss around at your Memorial Day BBQ:

  • Twenty-five percent of Americans say that traffic makes it unsafe to walk in their neighborhoods

  • Nearly four in ten people –38 percent — say that their communities lack outdoor places for recreation

  • Fifty-four percent say shopping and entertainment are not within walking distance

  • Forty-eight percent say bike lanes are insufficient to make biking a practical mode of transportation

  • Half of Americans want to live in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, including sidewalks and crosswalks

  • One-fifth of Americans view walkability as a top priority. Fifty-two percent would like to live in a place where they do not need to use a car very often; this includes 63 percent of Millennials

  • Four percent of Americans consider convenient public transportation to be a low priority, while 32 percent consider it a high priority

  • Environmental quality is rated as a top priority or high priority by 87 percent of Americans.

  • Green space, including parks, is ranked as the top or high priority by more than 50 percent of Americans

  • About 50 percent rate proximity to family and friends and walkable neighborhoods as top or high priorities.

Thanks to America in 2015, released by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) for these statistics.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy-Memorial-DAy

RTS on 355

RTS Map

Let me translate that.  This post is all about the planning process for a Rapid Transit System (RTS), formerly known as Bus Rapid Transit or BRT, on Rockville Pike.  Communities for Transit has helpfully compiled extensive information about RTS in Montgomery County on this website.

Why do we need a Rapid Transit System?  Quite simply, there really aren’t any other good options. RTS provides a cost-effective, practical solution to the problem of moving a rapidly growing population. In the next 30 years, Montgomery County is projected to grow in population by more than 200,000 new residents. Without more transit, including RTS,  traffic congestion will grow by 70%.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to drive on Rockville Pike with 70% more congestion. I’d much rather hop on a sleek, fast, reliable RTS.

There are three stages in the planning process for the Route 355 RTS.

Stage I – Data Collection/Initial Analyses (6 months) December 2014– June 2015

Stage II – Initial Conceptual Design (12 months) June 2015 – June 2016

Stage III – Final Conceptual Design (6 months) June 2016 – December 2016

 Friends of White Flint will keep you apprised of all that’s going on with RTS, so if you’ve not signed up for our weekly e-newsletter, you can do so here.

Could it almost be time to say goodbye to the Mall?

White Flint Mall Sketch

According to a story in Bethesda Beat, Robert Brewer, a land use attorney representing White Flint Mall’s owners, said Thursday the owners expect to receive demolition permits to take down the mall’s exterior in the next week or two. The owners plan to begin the demolition as soon as they receive the permits, according to Brewer.  Click to the article to read the backstory on this promising development.

Ride to Work Day

We were thrilled to be part of Bike to Work Day! We joined lots of bicyclists and community members at the NRC pit stop. What a great way to start the day.

We attend so you don’t have to …

Here are the highlights from this week’s White Flint Implementation and Downtown Advisory Committee meetings.

White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting, Monday, May 11

1) Gables Pike District received approval for their preliminary and site plans.

2) Goddard School received approval for a pre-school on Edson Lane that will educate 165 children.

3) On Monday, May 18, DOT is holding a meeting at 7pm at the Kennedy Shriver Swim Center to discuss Nebel Street Bikeway Alternatives.

4) Construction on the Chapman Road extension has started.

5) The intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Hoya Street (which will now be called Town Road) is 70% designed and will be presented at an upcoming Implementation Committee meeting.

6) In June, the Maryland State Highway Administration and Maryland Transit Administration in cooperation with MCDOT will host two workshops to gain community input on options for rapid transit on Route 355.  They hope that the best concepts will be studied in detail by Summer 2015 with a final recommendation and report in the summer of 2016.

The Corridor Advisory Committees (CACs) are providing public input to this Corridor Planning Study and are meeting regularly.  Meetings are open to the public.  The next MD 355 South CAC meeting will be held June 4 at 6:30 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Meeting, Tuesday, May 12

1) Gary Erenrich, Acting Deputy Director of MCDOT, gave a presentation about their application for a TIGER 7 Federal Grant.  They are asking for funds to cover 80% of the $21 million cost to create an innovative, high-frequency, high-speed, limited-stop bus service from Grosvenor metro to LakeForest Mall along Route 355. The all-electric buses will run every 10 minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes during non-peak periods seven days a week, 17 to 19 hours each day.  One interesting feature of this bus line will be the ability to control traffic signals to ensure reliability. There will be ten stations along this route, each with improved bus shelters and real-time information about transit options.  MCDOT estimates this ‘Ride On Plus’ system will generate 2,000 additional riders daily.

The county has also proposed ten bike share stations in the White Flint area to feed into this bus line, but five of them require private sector funding commitments.  Each station has a capital cost of about $60,000.  The county will cover operational costs for all ten bike share stations.

2) The committee is in the beginning stages of planning an iconic Pike District event for Fall 2016.

3) The Downtown Advisory Committee received state approval to begin landscaping on Route 355. Everyone should be able to see this  beautiful landscaping blooming in the next few weeks.

4) The benefits of placing wayfinding signs around the Pike District was favorably discussed.  They also showed this informative two-minute  video. (Not to brag, but Friends of White Flint brought this idea to the Committee’s attention.)

5) The website www.pikedistrict.org is starting to get lots of traffic. (If you haven’t checked it out, you should!)