Corporate America wants transit-friendly offices

The CEO of Marriott International said this week, ““I think it’s essential we be accessible to Metro and that limits the options. I think as with many other things our younger folks are more inclined to be Metro-accessible and more urban.”

This supports the recent data showing that new urbanism communities like the Pike District, where office workers have just a short walk from their cubicles to transit, housing, restaurants, and entertainment, are the most desirable locations for offices.

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The CAC meets for the first time

This past Saturday, more than 160 CAC members were part of the first Rapid Transit System Corridor Advisory Committee meetings in a special kick-off event in downtown Rockville. This joint meeting oriented CAC members to the upcoming process and provided general information on bus rapid transit. County Executive Ike Leggett welcomed everyone to the future of transit in Montgomery County, saying “The beneficiaries of what we are doing will be people long, long down the line, children and grandchildren, for years to come.”

Friends of White Flint is well-represented among the forty members of  the MD 355 South CAC. The committee, made up of residents, business owners and other civic leaders, will meet quarterly with transportation staff to talk through concerns about bus-only lanes, station designs, traffic mitigation and other details.  The next meeting is in April.

Bethesda Now reported that Councilmember Marc Elrich told the audience, “There’s no place for additional roads. We’re not going to be widening [Route] 355. It’s absolutely critical that we solve this problem, or we go nowhere.”

 

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Reimagine Twinbrook and Rockville Pike Meeting Tonight

Picture Route 355 from about Montrose Road north to downtown Rockville. Now picture it a lot wider. Last week, the City of Rockville voted 4 to 1 in a straw poll to widen Route 355 in this two-mile stretch to 252 feet.  (That’s the width of an interstate highway, to put it in perspective.) Walkability and green space will be the losers if that’s what happens to Rockville Pike north of the Pike District.

So why do we care about Twinbrook and Rockville? As we all know, boundaries are artificial. The City’s stretch of Route 355 abuts the Pike District, and there’s a good chance that some of this section will one day feel like it is part of the Pike District to residents and visitors. How sad it would be to have the easy walkability ensured by the White Flint Sector Plan end abruptly as Route 355 dramatically widens.

The width of Route 355 in the Pike District is 161 feet plus ten feet on either side for sidewalks for a total of 181 feet. So pretend you’re driving south on the Pike from Rockville. You’re cruising along and then come to dead stop because as you approach the bridge over Montrose Parkway, you need to merge all those lanes into just three in each direction in what would one day be a notorious bottleneck. The 181 foot width in the Pike District is sufficient for car traffic, bike lanes, rapid transit, and sidewalks, so there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t be enough in the City of Rockville portion.

A group called Reimagine Twinbrook and Rockville Pike is actively opposing widening the Pike to 252 feet,  They are meeting tonight, Monday, March 3 at Pizza CS, 1596 Rockville Pike, if you want to learn more. You can also visit their website, reimaginetwinbrook.com/ to gain a greater understanding of this issue.   We believe in transparency and fairness, so if you want to understand the City’s point of view, you can click here.

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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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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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