Category: Montgomery County

RELEASE: CSG Responds to Anti-Housing Protesters at Planning Board

Montgomery County, Md – “Montgomery County’s Thrive 2050 General Plan update is imbued with the progressive and creative spirit that has long been at the core of the community’s values,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG). “This is why we are so saddened to see the strident opposition to the county’s efforts to address a housing crisis through Thrive 2050 and a separate study of Attainable Housing Strategies.”

Let’s keep Ride On free!

Did you know that Ride On has been free since March 2020? We’ve successfully advocated for the emergency free fare program to be extended twice, and now the County Council is going to decide whether or not to make it permanent.

Tell the County Council to keep Ride On free!

We believe Montgomery County can invest in the local economy and further racial equity and social justice by keeping fares in the pockets of those who need it most. The average income of a Ride On rider is $35,000 and we know that regionally nearly 80% of bus riders are people of color. Free fares overwhelmingly benefit vulnerable populations and the working class.

However, we know that free fares cannot come at the cost of service quality. Frequency and reliability need to be top priorities of the system, given that they are proven to provide the best rider experience and are most effective at increasing ridership. Together, free fares and service improvements would result in the most ridership, climate, congestion, equity, and economic development gains.

Ride On is already permanently free to kids, seniors, and people with disabilities. Let’s make it free for all riders! Tell the Montgomery County Council that you agree. 

Take Action: How should we live in 2050?

Do you want to be able to easily walk, bike, or hop on a bus? Wouldn’t it be great if it were easy to find a great place to live that doesn’t stretch your budget? How can we make sure our neighborhoods are resilient in the face of climate change?

For nearly two years, Montgomery County has been working on a new general plan called Thrive Montgomery 2050, a blueprint for how and where the county will grow over the next 30+ years. Now, it’s up to the County Council whether or not to maintain and strengthen the Planning Board’s bold vision.

Send an email to your councilmembers to support Thrive 2050!

We believe the Planning Board has done a great job embracing smart growth as the most sustainable and equitable way for Montgomery County to grow and provide opportunities for everyone. On its own, Thrive doesn’t change any laws, but it will set the policy agenda for the County Council, influence the Planning Department’s work program, and impact all future master plans. It’s absolutely critical for the future! 

Use this form to tell your councilmembers that you support a vision for Montgomery County that is more affordable, equitable, sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous. You can read the Planning Board’s draft of Thrive and learn more about the plan here, and learn about CSG’s Thrive 2050 campaign here.

Take action on Thrive 2050, new Montgomery County’s General Plan

Take action on Thrive 2050, new Montgomery County’s General Plan

Sustainable, efficient, equitable land use is core to a healthy future and ensuring a high quality of life for everyone. For nearly two years, Montgomery County has been working on a new general land use plan called Thrive 2050, a blueprint for how and where the county will grow over the next 30+ years.

CSG Testimony: Attainable Housing Strategies

CSG Testimony: Attainable Housing Strategies

We strongly support the direction of the Planning Department’s recommendations for more diverse housing typologies in Montgomery County, especially in places near transit, amenities, and jobs. Inequitable, unsustainable land use patterns are a systemic problem at the root of some of our most difficult social issues. Montgomery County should not be a place where your zip code can predict your future income, health, or other life outcomes.

Middle housing zoning reform will not change neighborhoods overnight or solve all our housing challenges. Rather, smart land use decisions will lay the foundation for a better, more just society where people can find a place to live that fits their needs, their income, and provides access to opportunities. It will help Montgomery County become a place where more people can choose to live car-lite or car-free and drive less; a place where more people can start a family or age-in-place.

CSG Comments: Draft Vision Zero 2030 Plan

CSG Comments: Draft Vision Zero 2030 Plan

We commend Montgomery County for its commitment to ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Vision Zero is important for many reasons, chief among them to make our transportation system one where all users can safely move. We cannot create great places for people to live, work, and play in Montgomery County if people do not feel safe getting there. The county also faces other challenges, such as the county’s rapidly aging population who would like to age-in-place and combating climate change, of which Vision Zero is a critical component of the solution.  

CSG Testimony: Thrive 2050 to County Council

CSG Testimony: Thrive 2050 to County Council

We strongly support the Planning Board’s draft of Thrive 2050, although we urge you to further strengthen certain areas. Thrive creates a vital blueprint for a county that is more affordable, walkable, prosperous, resilient, and racially and economically integrated, and recognizes that the best way to achieve that vision is through embracing the principles of inclusive smart growth, urbanism, and equitable transit-oriented development. 

The decisions you will make in this document will have generational implications for how we live, work, and play. The world in 2050 will be very different no matter what — the question is whether we allow our communities to evolve in order to preserve what we value the most: diversity, sustainability, affordability, prosperity, equity, and social mobility. 

Sligo Creek Trail Crossing Safety Improvement Sign-on Letter

Mr. Tim Smith

State Highway Administration

707 North Calvert Street

Baltimore, Maryland  21202

Dear Mr. Smith,

We, the undersigned, request the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) implement pedestrian and bicyclist crossing improvements at highways MD-212/Riggs Road and MD-410/East West Highway which intersect M-NCPPC Sligo Creek Trail and highway corridors near the park trail.

These popular Sligo Creek Trail crosswalks at state highway intersections present a significant threat to vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists as a consequence of inadequate signal facilities, excessive driver speed for conditions, substantial crossing distances, several multi-threat travel lanes, exposure from high vehicle volume, lack of shoulders and center median (MD-410), and obstructed crosswalk visibility. In short, these crosswalk systems are compromised.

We request the following suite of Safe System elements be implemented by MDSHA to provide adequate crosswalk safety:  

  • Narrow Travel Lanes
  • Remove Visibility Obstructions and Barriers
  • Build a Pedestrian Island Refuge (MD-410)
  • Extend Bike Lanes (MD-212)
  • Implement a Road Diet (MD-212)
  • Implement Context-Driven Safe Speed
  • Upgrade the Crosswalk Beacons

These Safe System elements work together as an ensemble to keep vulnerable crosswalk users and drivers safe. These recommended Safe System elements are summarized in Table 1.

This is a major safety issue.

  • Vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists on key trail crossings, which include school children, are currently exposed to high speed, high volume (23,000 vehicles per weekday) traffic, crossing several dangerous multi-threat lanes with inadequate or non-existent shoulders.  The crossing systems are also compromised by obstructed sightlines from the presence of blind (sag) curves, utility poles, and bridge wall visibility blockages.  
  • These compromised trail crossing systems have resulted in numerous documented Maryland State Police crashes resulting in the crossings being identified as medium to high pedestrian and bicyclists crash “crash hot spots” in the MDOT Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (2019).

The design ignores equity and land use contexts.

Sligo Creek Trail is a major part of our transportation system.

Our request is consistent with MDOT/MDSHA’s “context driven” engineering guidelines. These MDSHA guidelines include safe speed limits, continental crosswalks, and specialized signals. Similar Safe System elements are being implemented by MDSHA through the MD-500/Queens Chapel Project. Prioritizing Sligo Creek trail crossings is also congruent with MDOT policy goals promulgated by the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (2019).

Finally, our Sligo Creek Trail crossing Safe System recommendations are consistent with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) recommendations, MDOT/MDSHA urban mobility-focused streetscape policy, and MDSHA cost-effective pedestrian safety countermeasures currently being undertaken.

Thank you for your urgent attention to making the M-NCPPC Sligo Creek Trail crossings safe.

Sincerely,

Capital Trails Coalition

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Table 1.  Crosswalk System Deficiencies, Risks, and Recommended Safe System Elements

Crossing System DeficiencyRiskRecommended Safe System ElementMD212 /Riggs RoadMD410 /East West Hwy
Excessive Crossing Distance, Pedestrian & Bicyclist Exposure, Streetscape Encourages High Driver SpeedPedestrian & Bicyclist Exposure, Unsafe Driver Speed especially with presence of blind curves and obstructionsNarrow Travel Lanes, Decrease Exposure, Encourage Drive Safe Speed, Decrease Stopping DistanceXX
Crosswalk Barriers, Utility Poles, Bridges, Walls, and Blind CurvesDrivers and Vulnerable Crosswalk Users fail to see each other, increasing risk of crashesRemove obstructions and barriers, improving visibilityXX
Speed Limit Excessive for Trail, School, and Shopping Urban EnvironmentLikelihood of death for Pedestrians and Bicyclists struck by vehicles traveling faster than 30 mph is HighImplement Safe Speeds consistent with Context-Driven multimodal, urban conditionsXX
Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Excessive Crossing Distance, Streetscape Encourages High Driver SpeedDrivers Vision of Vulnerable Users Blocked, Significant Exposure to Vulnerable Users, Streetscape Encourages High Driver SpeedBuild a Pedestrian Island Refuge (24 inch wide) in Median, Reduce Exposure from Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Encourage Driver Safe SpeedX
Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Excessive Crossing Distance, Poor Driver/Vulnerable User VisionDrivers Vision of Vulnerable Users Blocked, Significant Exposure to Vulnerable Users, Streetscape Encourages High Driver SpeedExtend Bike Lanes on MD212 from Sargent to MD410/East-West Highway Intersection, Reduce Exposure from Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Encourage Driver Safe SpeedX
Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Excessive Crossing Distance, Poor Driver/Vulnerable User VisionDrivers Vision of Vulnerable Users Blocked, Significant Exposure to Vulnerable Users, Streetscape Encourages High Driver SpeedImplement Road Diet (6 ->4 Travel Lanes), Extend Crossing Queuing Area using Curb Extensions/Bump-Outs as supported by highway Volume/Capacity, Encourage Driver Safe SpeedX
Crosswalk Width (6ft) does not provide early warning of presence of Vulnerable Users in CrosswalkDrivers speed and braking distance is excessive for conditions; risk of collisions elevatedWiden Crosswalk width from 6ft to 10ft, an, Encourage Drive Safe SpeedX
Existing Circular Yellow Beacon Provides Inadequate Vulnerable User Crosswalk Safety for Highway Speed, Crossing Distance, Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, High Vehicle Volume and Vulnerable User Demand, Lack of Shoulders and Median, and Obstructed VisibilityNumber of Crashes at and near crosswalks is high, risk of serious injuries and fatalities is significantUpgrade crossing signal to Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon / HAWK or Full Signal (preferred) to provide adequate crosswalk safety for Vulnerable UsersX
Existing Circular Yellow Beacon Provides Inadequate Vulnerable User Crosswalk Safety for Highway Speed, Crossing Distance, Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, High Vehicle Volume and Vulnerable User Demand, Lack of Shoulders, and Obstructed VisibilityNumber of Crashes at and near crosswalks is high, risk of serious injuries and fatalities is significantUpgrade crossing signal to Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB), Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon / HAWK (preferred) or Full Signal to provide adequate crosswalk safety for Vulnerable UsersX

RELEASE: CSG and Montgomery Open Streets Coalition Ask SHA for 19 Miles of Shared Streets

July 1, 2020

Mr. Greg Slater

Maryland Secretary of Transportation

7201 Corporate Center Drive

Hanover, MD 21076

Mr. Tim Smith, Administrator

Maryland State Highway Administration

707 North Calvert Street

Baltimore, MD 21202

RE: Shared Streets Treatments on Maryland State Roads in Montgomery County

To:  Tim Smith MD SHA Administrator

Dear Secretary Slater and Mr. Smith,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we would like to offer a list of State Highways that would benefit greatly from a “Shared Streets” approach as is being used by Montgomery County Department of Transportation. Recently, SHA itself coordinated with MCDOT and Councilmember Tom Hucker’s office in the closing of the right northbound lane on MD-97 in downtown Silver Spring to facilitate outdoor dining.

We are proposing a similar treatment of longer stretches of some State roads to promote greater connectivity for bicyclists and pedestrians and make it safer for those who do not want to drive or do not have access to a car to make trips throughout Montgomery County walking or by bicycle. These could be commuting to work trips, or shorter ones to go buy groceries, visit the doctor, connect with trails or do other errands. It is vital to provide alternatives to cars that are safe, affordable and are useful in getting people between different parts of the County or even within a short radius of where people live.

The list below amounts to almost 19 miles of state roads. We understand that SHA may want to pilot this concept of partial closures to cars and suggest that the stretch on University Boulevard is a good place to start as it would connect the Wheaton CBD with Sligo Creek Parkway and neighborhoods east of the Parkway as well.

We look forward to your response and hope that you can work with MCDOT and members of the Maryland House and Senate and the Montgomery County Council.

Here is the list of roads we propose as candidates for a Shared Streets approach:

  1. University Blvd/MD-193 from Colesville Road/MD-29 to Viers Mill Road/Md-586 (3.0 mi) (Connects from Four Corners neighborhood to Sligo Creek Parkway and Trail to Wheaton CBD)
  2. Viers Mill Road/MD-586 from MD-193 to Matthew Henson Trail (works best in pairing with no. 1 above (2.7 mi) (Connects Wheaton CBD to Matthew Henson Trail)
  3. Frederick Road/MD-355 from Germantown Road/Md-118 to MIddlebrook Road (.8 mi) (Connects Montgomery College/Germantown Campus and Holy Cross Hospital/Germantown)
  4. Piney Branch Road/MD-320 from Sligo Creek Pkwy to New Hampshire Ave/MD-650 (1.4 mi) (Connects Sligo Creek Parkway and Trail, New Hampshire Elementary School, Flower Ave and Northwest Branch Trails)
  5. Old Georgetown Road/MD-187 from I-495 to Executive Blvd (2.6 mi) (Connects Bethesda Trolley Trail, Ratner Museum, Wildwood Shopping Center, Josiah Henson Museum and White Flint)
  6. Georgia Ave/MD-97 from Norbeck Road/MD-28 to OlneySandy Spring Road/MD-108  (3.5 mi) (Connects Leisure World, ICC Trail and Olney CBD)
  7. Georgia Avenue/MD-97 & 16th Street/MD-390 from I-495 Overpass to Colesville Road (1.5 mi) (Connects Forest Glen Metro and Montgomery Hills Shopping Center)
  8. East-West Highway/MD-410 from Georgia Ave/MD-97 to Connecticut Ave/MD-185  (3.2 mi) (Connects Silver Spring CBD, Rock Creek Trail, and Chevy Chase) 

Paul Goldman, President, Action Committee for Transit

Jane Lyons, Maryland Advocacy Manager, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Alison Gillespie, President, Forest Estates Community Association

Kristy Daphnis, Chair, Pedestrian Bicycle Traffic Safety Advisory Committee

Peter Gray, Vice President, Board of Directors, Washington Area Bicyclist Association

cc: Montgomery County State Delegates and Senators, Montgomery County Council, Director MCDOT