Archives March 2016

How do ride-sharing and bike-sharing affect transit?

New urban mobility options — ride-hailing, car-sharing, and bicycle-sharing — are changing the way people get around cities.  In a new study, reported on The Transit Wire, researchers learned that these shared services complemented public transportation, reduced auto ownership, and lowered overall transportation costs.

The study had four key findings:

  • The more people use shared modes, the more likely they are to use public transit, own fewer cars, and spend less on transportation overall.
  • Shared modes complement public transit, enhancing urban mobility.
  • Shared modes will continue to grow in significance, and public entities should identify opportunities to engage with them to ensure that benefits are widely and equitably shared.
  • The public sector and private operators are eager to collaborate to improve paratransit service using emerging approaches and technology.

The research showed that people who use public transit and these shared services  make lifestyle changes that results in more walking, less driving, and greater household savings because of overall lower transportation costs.

Urban Land Institute to provide recommendations on Pike District branding

The Urban Land Institute, an urban planning nonprofit, will join the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee today to lead a Technical Assistance Program to discuss how to brand the developing area around the White Flint Metro station as the Pike District. The name Pike District was chosen by a group of developers, businesses and residents in 2014, but isn’t widely used by locals yet. The panel’s goal is to propose a number of recommendations to help brand and identify the Pike District.

Many Friends of White Flint board members and Friends of White Flint executive director, Amy Ginsburg, will be participating in the ULI Technical Assistance Panel today and tomorrow.

We’re not fans of Rockville’s plan to widen Route 355 to 252 feet

As promised, here are the Friends of White Flint’s thoughts on the City of Rockville’s plan to widen Route 355 north of the city border to 252 feet wide. Essentially, the City of Rockville wants to transform a two-mile section of Route 355 into a 252-foot wide boulevard, with 12 car lanes, sidewalks, on-street parking, BRT, and multiple bikeways. (Read about their plan here.)

As you know, the Pike District/White Flint area is transforming into a walkable, transit-friendly, live-work-play community. As you also know, boundaries are artificial, and to residents, shoppers, and office workers, there is no boundary between the area of Route 355 in the Pike District and the portion that falls under City of Rockville jurisdiction. They view it as one continuous community.

Everyone who has an interest in creating a vibrant community that fosters growth and livability must act in concert. We must work together to ensure that the Pike becomes a road that unites the east and west sides of Route 355 and unites the areas north and south of Montrose Road.

None of us wants the Pike to become a vast plain of asphalt that separates rather than connects. The City’s proposal to widen Route 355 to 252 feet is dramatically different than the plan for Route 355 south of Montrose Road where it will be 181 feet wide. A traffic and safety problem of that magnitude will greatly diminish the communities and businesses north of Montrose as well as those in the Pike District.

“We want walkable streets and easy access to transit” is the cry heard from businesses and residents. Widening Route 355 to 252 feet will dramatically impede not only the appearance of walkability but also the actual ability to walk across and along Rockville Pike. It is logical to assume that if there is sufficient room to include broad sidewalks, bike paths, bus rapid transit lanes, and car lanes on a 181-foot-wide Route 355 as it passes through the Pike District, there is sufficient room for all of those essential components north of Montrose Road.

The Friends of White Flint very much hopes that the City of Rockville will choose walkability, consistency, and stability and not widen Route 355 to 252 feet. 

Reimaagine Twinbrook is not affiliated with Friends, but we believe it’s worth sharing with you their campaign to stop the madness of widening Rockville Pike to 252 feet. Through Reimagine Twinbrook, you can:

Send a Letter to the Mayor and City Council:  http://reimaginetwinbrook. com/support/

Sign their new petition: http://tinyurl.com/ Reject252RockvillePike

It’s the Pike & Rose Pig Roast and Block Party!

The Pike & Rose popular Pig Roast and Block Party is back!

Sunday, April 17th from noon-4pm Grand Park Ave at Pike & Rose

Free to attend*

Tickets available beginning March 29th at pikeandrose.com and on site the day of the event.

  • On site Pig roast*: Adults: $20/$25 at the door. Kids 12 & under: $10

  • Sidewalk Sales at Yogaso Boutique, Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom, Gap, Lucky Brand

  • Noshes from Neighborhood Restaurants including Summer House, Stella Barra Pizzeria, Del Frisco’s Grille, City Perch, Chipotle, Roti, ShopHouse Kitchen and Carluccio’s

  • Live Music from AMP by Strathmore

  • Giveaways

  • Kids’ Activities including Face Painting, Balloon Twisting and a Roving Photo Booth

  • Beer & Wine

    Meat & Greet is free to attend, however ticket purchase is required for the Pig Roast portion of the Block Party and includes neighborhood tastings.

Rockville Pike’s Neighborhood Plan from the City of Rockville

Yeah, the City of Rockville is north of the White Flint area, but we’re joined in spirit and by Route 355 which is why I want to share the City’s recently-released plan for Route 355.  Here are some highlights (since I assume most of you don’t have time to read the 140 page report.) Essentially, the City of Rockville wants to transform a two-mile section of Route 355 into a 252-foot wide boulevard, with 12 car lanes, BRT, and bikeways.

This post contains only facts and figures; Friends of White Flint’s opinion will come later. To that end, what do you think of this plan? Please add your comments to this post.

Regional projections indicate that there will be approximately 11,460 residents and 13,000 jobs in the Plan Area by 2040, compared to about 3,500 residents and 9,000 jobs in 2014.

The Plan Area contains approximately 382 acres, on both sides of and including a 1.98-mile portion of Rockville Pike. It is bounded on the north by Richard Montgomery Drive and on the south by the City’s corporate limits, near Bou Avenue. Boundaries on the western side include Wootton Parkway, the Woodmont Country Club and East Jefferson Street. The eastern boundary is the Metrorail right-of-way.

The Rockville’s Pike public process led to the identification of a set of corridor planning principles that have guided the formulation of this plan. They are:1) Livable, desirable environment enhanced by thoughtful urban design, 2) multimodal transportation, and 3) economic vitality.

Principal land use policies of this plan include the following: 1. Seek to ensure a comfortable and functional relationship between public infrastructure and the private built environment, 2. Require buildings to be adjacent to sidewalks, 3. Regulate building height by location, 4. Create smaller blocks, 5. Provide wide and pleasant sidewalks, 6. Enhance the pedestrian environment overall and especially at strategic intersections and on strategic streets, 7. Ensure a mix of uses, 8. Ensure adequacy of public facilities 9. Encourage enduring, human-scale architecture that has visual interest, 10. Provide parks, 11. Require the creation of public use space through redevelopment, 12. Promote development which, at a minimum, does not degrade existing environmental conditions, and 13. Strategically locate and right-size parking.

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The key purpose of the main lanes of the proposed multi-way boulevard is to carry faster-moving and non-local auto traffic, as well as local buses. Features of the primary roadway are listed below:

Approximately 52 feet of right-of-way width for a two–directional Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in the center of the Pike with medians on either side for BRT stations and automobile left turn lanes, which widens the overall curbto-curb crossing distance of the primary roadway by about 36 feet. Medians provide refuge for pedestrians crossing the Pike. The 52 feet could be used as a wide median or for additional automobile lanes if the BRT line is not built, or until it is built.

Three automobile travel lanes in each direction.

The outer curb lane is wider (12 feet) than the other two (11-foot) lanes to accommodate local buses.

Local buses travel in the central roadway (per Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation preference, but consideration may be given to providing the local service in the access roads).

This infrastructure can all be built within the existing 120-foot State right-of-way.

The principal transportation policies are as follows: 1. Re-design and reconstruct Rockville Pike as a multi-way boulevard, 2. Expand the street network, 3. Adhere to the City’s Complete Streets Policy, 4. Optimize access to and use of public transit.

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The key transportation element in the South Pike, on the east side, is extending Chapman Avenue north to one block beyond Congressional Lane and creating a grid connecting Rockville Pike and Chapman Avenue.

A north-south street is recommended west of the Pike, between the existing Jefferson Street and the Pike, which would continue through the Middle Pike to Edmonston Drive. Other streets would add connections between the east and west sides of the Pike and create smaller blocks. Congressional Lane is shown connecting Rockville Pike and Chapman Avenue extended, and a new street is proposed between Congressional Lane and Halpine Road.

The most important transportation element for the Middle Pike is the extension of East Jefferson Street from where it currently ends, just north of Congressional Lane, northward to Wootton Parkway.

There are no recommendations for added street grid on the east side of the Middle Pike because of the narrowness of this portion of the Plan Area.

The primary street addition in the North Pike is a two-lane extension of Fleet Street to connect Wootton Parkway and Mt. Vernon Place.

The plan also recommends limiting new residential buildings to seven floors and new commercial or office buildings to 10 floors, a far cry from the 300-foot maximum building heights allowed by the county’s 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, which applies to a section of Rockville Pike just south of the city border.

Bethesda Beat wrote a great piece on this plan which you can read here.

 

 

What you missed at last night’s Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board Meeting

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board Meeting came to the Pike District last night, meeting at the Shriver Aquatic Center. It was an SRO crowd, but if you weren’t one of the folks in the room (after all, Dancing With The Stars premiered last night), here’s what you missed.

Councilmember Marc Elrich kicked off the meeting by talking about the county budget, BRT, and Westbard. Marc reported there is a controversial 7 1/2 cent increase in the property tax in County Executive Ike Leggett’s 2017 budget. Marc said, “the jobs and incomes that returned after the great recession aren’t the same jobs and incomes that left due to the recession.” The biggest problem is schools, including the persistent achievement gap and need to reduce class size. The County Executive’s budget includes money to help address those issues. In response to a question, Marc led a discussion about turf fields and pesticide use at schools, noting that the council yesterday moved $11 million in the MCPS budget from turf fields to school construction.

Marc voiced his strong support for a Bus Rapid Transit system on Route 355 and for the CCT, declaring that those two rapid transit systems are the most important. He noted that both the Science City and White Flint areas could be stymied if BRT isn’t built and that both would have a good return on investment. Marc said that studies have been done which demonstrate that BRT along Rockville Pike would have heavy use, especially when Ride On is reconfigured to go through adjoining neighborhoods to bring people to the Route 355 BRT.

There was a long and passionate discussion about Westbard redevelopment. Marc said the Westbard plan was one of the worst he’s seen because there is no transit on River Road. Marc thought Roger Berliner’s plan that cuts development in half is a good step in the right direction. Marc also spoke of the need to put community input back in the planning process rather than relying on charrettes which he called charades.

Gwen Wright, Director of Planning, explained that the planning department bases their work on demographics, and the current pipeline of development does not meet the county’s housing needs in 2045. The planning department is focusing on smaller, fine-grained plans to manage change and minimize negative impacts on the community. She said the White Flint 1 Sector Plan is a great example of positive, fine-grained planning. Gwen also mentioned that developer impact fees generate $40 million annually to support schools.

Nkosi Yearwood discussed the White Flint 2 Sector Plan which will link White Flint 1, Twinbrook, and City of Rockville.

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Nkosi also talked about the need to revitalize the office space on Executive Boulevard.

David Anspacher presented work on the Master Bike Plan for the White Flint area. Their goal is to create ways for everyone to bike without having to navigate high-stress, high-traffic areas. He wants to connect neighborhoods, offices, schools, transit, and retail through bike paths and separated bike lanes.

Finally, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee led a roundtable discussion. Chair of the Downtown Advisory Committee, Brain Downie of Saul Centers, said there are 11 voting members and 3 ex officio members. Their objective is to eventually establish some sort of district, similar to the Bethesda Urban Partnership.  Whether that entity ends up being a Business Improvement District, a Commercial District, or some sort of hybrid is yet to be determined. The Downtown Advisory Committee will present a recommendation for the type of district to the County Council in late 2017. A ULI TAP will be held at the end of the month to help the Pike District create an identity, and the committee is organizing a Fall Fest October 8 featuring music and food.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t add that Bob Daley who serves on the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board recommended the Friends of White Flint blog as a great way to stay informed about the many comings and goings of the Pike District.

 

 

 

Bethesda Magazine is right — these are great neighborhoods.

Look how many terrific Pike District/White Flint neighborhoods there are in Bethesda Magazine’s 30 Great Neighborhoods to Live In

GARRETT PARK

When businessman Henry Copp created Garrett Park in the 1880s, he envisioned a neighborhood of beautiful homes and stately trees. His dream came true in the form of maples intertwining over streets lined with gingerbread Victorians. In the 1970s, because trees and architecture are so ingrained in Garrett Park’s character, the town government formed a historic preservation committee and an arboretum committee to protect them. Together, the old homes and mature trees give a sense of history to this small town, where residents still pick up their mail (and swap paperbacks) at the post office and walk to dinner at the popular Black Market Bistro, located in the old general store by the train tracks. Residents help ensure that the trees stay healthy, says Marian Green, who has lived in Garrett Park since 1959. “They make a great deal of difference to people.”

TIMBERLAWN

Unless you’re looking for it, you might not find Timberlawn, a community of single-family homes and townhouses in North Bethesda. “Most people simply drive past the area on the way to somewhere else,” says Marc Luger, a real estate agent and former Timberlawn resident. But the people who live there know what it has to offer. Residents have access to a pair of swimming pools and tennis courts. The 13.7-acre Timberlawn Park features two soccer fields, a basketball court and a playground. The park even has a network of walking trails. Set back from Old Georgetown Road, the neighborhood was built in the 1980s. Many of the homes are large colonial-style houses on roomy lots along winding roads and cul-de-sacs. The Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station and entrances to I-495 and I-270 are less than a mile away. “It’s a great area for commuters,” Luger says. It’s also within walking distance of North Bethesda Market, where popular spots include Whole Foods and Seasons 52.

OLD FARM

Stretching alongside I-270, just off Montrose Road in Rockville, Old Farm is a cozy community of mostly brick homes on winding tree-lined streets that offer residents fast access to the highway. “It has easy commuting upcounty and down, into D.C. and into Virginia,” says real estate agent Maryanne Fiorita. It’s one of four neighborhoods in the Greater Farmland Civic Association, a community of 981 homes along the interstate that gathers for an annual Fourth of July parade that ends at the Old Farm pool. The development company Kettler Brothers built Old Farm as a neighborhood of colonials in the mid-1960s on ground that “ever so imperceptibly felt the hoof beats of Col. Jeb Stuart’s cavalry horses passing,” or so claimed a brochure for the project. Stuart’s horses are long gone, but the neighborhood is still a popular choice for residents who have a journey to work every day.

LUXMANOR

Every October, Stephen Vaccarezza fills his sprawling Luxmanor front lawn with so many Halloween decorations that people drive by just to see them. “Having a big lot is great because my husband uses the whole front area,” his wife, Donna, says. Tucked away off Old Georgetown Road, the North Bethesda neighborhood is full of spacious yards, perfect for ballgames and outdoor birthday parties, and popular with wandering deer. Since Morton and Ernestine Luchs bought the Riley farm in 1926 and later subdivided it as Luxmanor, housing styles have come and gone. Today, many of the old ramblers are being torn down and replaced by large homes inspired by colonial and Victorian designs that capitalize on the large lots. “There are some real hidden treasures here, with tennis courts and swimming pools in the backyard,” Donna Vaccarezza says. Residents enjoy easy access to the Beltway and I-270, and can walk to the restaurants, shops and iPic Theaters at nearby Pike & Rose, where there’s a farmers market on Saturday mornings.

COG, Area Governments Project More Than 1.5 Million Additional People, 1.1 Million Additional Jobs in D.C. Region by 2045

I’m often asked how will we fill all the residential units and offices planned for the Pike District. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) just answered that question.

According to the most recent draft of forecasts jointly developed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and area governments, the region will add more than 1.5 million people and 1.1 million jobs over the next 30 years. The figures show the region’s population will increase from 5.4 million to 6.9 million and jobs will increase from 3.1 million to 4.3 million between now and 2045. The forecasts were presented to area officials at the March COG Board of Directors meeting.

The region’s central jurisdictions—the District of Columbia, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria—will experience the fastest change in population growth by 2045. These jurisdictions will grow by 42 percent, or nearly 436,000 people. The District of Columbia will experience the majority of that growth (315,000 people).

The region’s outer suburbs will experience a faster rate of employment growth (58.4 percent) than its central jurisdictions (32.7 percent) and inner suburbs (31.4 percent) during this time span. The inner suburbs will continue to have the largest share of the region’s population and employment in 2045.

This round of forecasts also considers employment change by sector. The professional and business services sector, which is comprised of high wage and high skill industries, will see the largest employment growth, with the addition of nearly 602,000 jobs.

The regional aspiration is that much of this growth will end up in Activity Centers, or transit-accessible mixed use areas, according to COG Executive Director Chuck Bean.

View the Cooperative Forecasts presentation and related documentation.

The Cooperative Forecasts have been developed jointly by COG and local planning departments since 1975. The forecasts are used by local governments and regional and federal agencies in areas such as transportation planning, air and water quality, and housing.

To address these challenges and identify opportunities for collaboration, COG Board Chairman and Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner announced earlier this year that regional economic competitiveness will be a priority for COG in 2016, as federal cutbacks, such as the decline in procurement, are felt across the region.

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