Category: Transportation

CSG Testimony in Support of the Walkable Urban Streets Act

CSG Testimony in Support of the Walkable Urban Streets Act

September 8, 2023

Council Member Eric Olson

Chair, Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee (TIEE)

Prince George’s County Council

Wayne K. Curry Administration Bldg., 1301 McCormick Drive, 2nd Floor, Largo, MD 20774

Dear Chair Olson:

Please accept this letter on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG). CSG is the leading non-profit organization in the Washington, D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. 

Thank you for introducing the Walkable Urban Streets Act, and our thanks as well to the eight co-sponsors. We are enthusiastic supporters of the Walkable Urban Streets Act, Council Bill 69-2023 and its companion resolutions CR 67-2023 and CR 68-2023. 

This legislation updates and codifies DPW&T’s 2017 Urban Street Design Standards. These standards are to be applied to Regional Transit Districts and Local Centers as designated in Plan 2035. They will help build safer streets, especially for people walking and biking, and they will support transit-oriented development, a major priority of Prince George’s County. 

The legislation is greatly needed for two reasons. First, the county’s roads are dangerous because they are too wide and too high speed. Fast, wide roads generate more severe crashes and the county leads the DC region in traffic and pedestrian deaths. The second reason to adopt this legislation is because walkable, bike-friendly street designs are necessary for high-quality and competitive transit-oriented development. 

Despite prior adoption of the 2017 Urban Street Design Standards, DPIE and DPW&T have not taken advantage of opportunities to create the kinds of safer, vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented streets and places envisioned in Plan Prince George’s 2035. In fact, the streets in and near transit centers have remained overly-wide, fueling high speed traffic, making the roads dangerous for all users – people walking, bicycling, riding transit, and driving. For specific examples, see our companion fact sheet: Examples of urban street projects falling short of the 2017 standards.

One key reason is that the county’s traffic models often overpredict future traffic volumes, and do not adequately account for the increased walking, biking, and transit use in transit-oriented communities. Designing only for projected vehicle travel becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The wider and faster the road, the less inviting it is for people walking, biking or taking transit, and  the more driving it attracts.

This approach gives priority to speed over safety. It also undermines the economic development that occurs in a place where cars are slower and people want to be – the walkable, mixed-use, transit-accessible centers of activity that have been so successful in other parts of the region. In fact, some congestion is an indicator of a successful local economy.  Plan 2035 recognizes this and the county’s transportation review standards allow for an urban level of traffic volumes on streets around mixed use transit centers and a focus on improving access by means other than driving.

The updated Urban Street Design Standards proposed in this bill require safer streets around transit districts and local centers, and include these components:

  • 25 mph design speed maximum
  • 2-4 travel lanes total roadway maximum
  • 10′ travel lane widths (11′ for bus routes)
  • 15′ corner radii (and no slip lanes/high speed turn lanes)
  • Buffered walk and bike facilities 
  • On-street vehicle parking with bulbouts (where appropriate)

The Walkable Urban Streets Act will ensure the county is planning and building the streets needed for improved safety, people-oriented places, and economic success.

Thank you for your consideration. 


Cheryl Cort

Policy Director

TESTIMONY re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings 

TESTIMONY re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings 

The findings from your climate and transportation study are clear: The region can achieve necessary levels of greenhouse gas reductions under its adopted 2030 climate plan, We cannot depend solely on electric vehicle adoption and a cleaner grid, the region must reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 15 to 20% by 2030.

Event: Alternatives to Maglev

Event: Alternatives to Maglev

September 21 – The proposed high speed Maglev train between Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. would harm a national park, a national wildlife refuge, the Chesapeake Bay and numerous nearby communities.

NPCA, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the West Baltimore Project, Delegate Jared Solomon, and Delegate Robbyn Lewis hosted a conversation about why the proposed Baltimore-Washington Maglev project is wrong for the region and the numerous transit solutions currently being considered.

View the event recording on YouTube.

RELEASE: New Analysis Measures Racial and Economic Disparities in Transit Access Across National Capital Region

For Immediate Release 
June 17, 2021 

Ben Fried, TransitCenter, 347-675-5592
Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, 703-599-6437
Ron Thompson, DC Transportation Equity Network, 202-780-7940

New Analysis Measures Racial and Economic Disparities in Transit Access Across National Capital Region

The Transit Equity Dashboard illustrates inequities in access to jobs, health care, and other services for Black and brown residents.

An analysis released today measures racial and economic inequities embedded in the National Capital Region’s transportation network. The Transit Equity Dashboard, produced and launched today by the national foundation TransitCenter, maps and quantifies the disparities in transit access caused by segregation and discrimination in land use and transportation policy. TransitCenter is releasing findings for an initial six U.S. metropolitan regions over the coming week.

The COVID crisis made racial inequities in public health and economic status very plain, and demonstrated just how critical transit is for our essential workers. “As recovery from the pandemic accelerates in greater DC, our organizations call on political leaders to prioritize public investments that will shrink gaps in transit access and address other inequities as a result, putting the region on the path to a just recovery,” said Ron Thompson of the DC Transportation Equity Network.

People of color are more likely to rely on transit in the Capital region — in 2019, 18% of Black residents took transit to work, compared to 12% of white residents. But disparities in transit access linked to race and economic status are undermining transit’s capacity to function as a “ladder of opportunity” connecting people to jobs, education, medical care, and other necessities. Using data from transit agencies and the U.S. Census, the dashboard reveals these disparities.

In addition to job access, the dashboard measures transit access to grocery stores, hospitals, parks, and colleges, reflecting the fact that most trips are not commute trips, and that equitable transit enables people to access more than the workplace. Key findings include:

  • The average Latinx resident can access 157,040 potential jobs in 45 minutes using transit, the average Black resident can access 160,893 jobs, and the average Asian resident 184,018 jobs — compared to 256,140 for the average white resident.
  • On a weekday evening, it takes 40 minutes for the average resident of the Washington D.C. region to take transit to the nearest hospital, and even longer for the average Asian or Latinx resident. Poor access to healthcare is associated with worse health outcomes; it also means long transit commutes for essential healthcare workers working second- and third-shift roles. 
  • On a weekend morning, it takes more than three times longer to reach the closest hospital using transit than using a car, and nearly three times longer to reach the third-nearest grocery store. The dashboard measures time to the third-closest grocery store to show how effectively transit connects people to a variety of options.

Achieving more equitable transit in greater DC will require changes to both the broad sweep of transportation and land use and the specifics of transit operations and fare policy. Advocates have proposed reforms to remediate the racial and economic divides in the region’s transit access, including:

  • Redesigning bus networks in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland to expand access to jobs.
  • Operating transit more frequently throughout the day and week, in order to better meet the needs of essential workers.
  • Dedicated transitways to make bus and streetcar service faster and more reliable, both within DC and throughout the region.
  • Addressing the east-west economic and racial divide that cuts across the region as well as the racial and economic residential segregation apparent within each jurisdiction.

Transit agencies and local governments in the Capital region should also adopt new performance targets that measure inequities like those identified by this dashboard, and assess progress toward equitable transit access.

“TransitCenter’s maps highlight once again the need to address the region’s east-west racial and economic divide, as well as the need to prioritize dedicated bus lanes, more affordable fares, and networks redesigned for more frequent service and improved access to jobs,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

While noting the recent actions by the WMATA board on service changes and fare affordability, the Alexandria DASH bus network redesign, and planning for regional network redesigns, the groups collectively urged much more rapid progress.


Testimony: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass

Testimony: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass

June 15, 2021 

Hon. Charles Allen 
Chair, National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board 

Re: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass 

Chair Allen and members of the TPB: 

We hope you all agree that climate change is an existential threat. You also know that transportation is our number one source of emissions and that electrical vehicles will not be enough to get us to the COG and national goals of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. The last CLRP (2018) is only estimated to reduce CO2 by 23%  by 2045, 

In the COG scientific and statistically significant Voices of the Region Survey, 84% of the region’s residents  indicated they want elected officials to prioritize climate change in transportation plans. Public comment on  Visualize 2045 has overwhelmingly supported a plan that addresses climate change. 

Therefore, we urge you to address the issues raised in Councilmember Glass’ resolution and by many other  members of the TPB seeking a CLRP that more effectively addresses climate change. At a minimum, we urge you in  adopting the draft CLRP for air conformity modeling, to concurrently commit to the TPB to adopting a new CLRP by  2024 that meets COG’s climate goals. This includes conducting a rigorous initial climate strategy analysis this year  (not just an academic exercise) and beginning immediately in 2022, developing the next CLRP by 2024. 

We are running out of time. We need your leadership. 

Thank you. 

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director

Bill Pugh 
Senior Policy Fellow

CSG Testimony in Support of the FY22 Budget for DDOT

CSG Testimony in Support of the FY22 Budget for DDOT

Re: Testimony in Support of the FY22 Budget for DDOT

Dear Chair Cheh and members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading non-profit organization in the D.C. region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

Major Investment Bus Priority:

We wish to express our enthusiastic support for the FY22 budget for DDOT, especially the $63 million for bus priority programs. This is a tremendous step in making the commitment we need to the bus service we should have. This budget makes a major commitment to building out the city’s bus priority network. Over the last decade, we have advocated for better bus service and urged the city to give buses priority on District streets. We are gratified to see such a bold proposal to advance bus service. This major commitment to better buses helps address racial and economic disparities, and build a more sustainable city for everyone.

We commend the proposed budget to both support operating costs for the Bus Priority Program and the $63 million of capital investments for “Bus-Only Lanes and other initiatives to improve bus speeds and reliability on 50+ priority bus corridors throughout the city.” While this investment is most of what we need, we ask that the funding for this program be sustained to ensure its completion in the out years.

We also support $116 million for the K Street Transitway, which is a necessary reconstruction of a central downtown thoroughfare. This project will improve speed and reliability for bus passengers benefiting travel both in downtown and throughout the District. It will benefit residents from all parts of the city as they travel through the corridor to jobs, services, or via bus on their way to another destination. We are excited that the transitway will also accommodate people bicycling, and improve the walking environment.

Pedestrian/Bicycle investments:

We support the $375 million for streetscapes, trails, bicycle lanes, Open Streets, and Vision Zero safety improvements. We also are thrilled by the $19 million expansion of Capital Bikeshare. These investments are critical to the city’s ability to make education, jobs, and services more accessible to residents and visitors. To accelerate these investments and get us back on track to achieving Vision Zero, we need to ensure that DDOT has the staffing to plan and guide these projects through to delivery. In the past year, our city has experienced far too many tragic deaths of people walking and bicycling. We need to do more to accelerate implementation of safety improvements and redesigns of unsafe streets and intersections. We ask that the budget add staff positions to the pedestrian/bicycle team to ensure that DDOT can deliver on these critical facilities.

We also want to express our support the FY22 budget’s transfer of the Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program to DDOT. DDOT’s management of ATE will better ensure that safety and compliance are tightly linked to the design and management of our streets to support walk and bicycle access and safety, and effective bus lanes.

This is a set of major investments that will make our city more sustainable, equitable, accessible and vibrant. These investments give people healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable transportation choices. We urge the DC Council to support these investments.

Lastly, we wanted to inquire about the regulations for the Transportation Benefits Equity Act (B23-148). This new law will enable an employee who is offered a parking benefit by their employer to use the equivalent value of the parking subsidy for a transit, walk, or bike commute. We understand that the administration has been working on regulations, but it has gone on for months. As the District begins to reopen, we should have the regulations for the law in place to provide better guidance to employers as they consider any changes to their commuter benefits policies. We ask the Committee to follow up with the administration on the status of the regulations.

Thank you for your consideration.

Cheryl Cort
Policy Director

MetroNow Coalition re: WMATA Service and Fare Opportunities

MetroNow Coalition re: WMATA Service and Fare Opportunities

The MetroNow Coalition is made up of regional leaders who believe that transit is essential to the economic health and vitality of our region. WMATA, especially our Metrobus and Metrorail operators, have kept this region moving and our economy alive throughout the pandemic.

On Thursday, June 10, the WMATA Board will have an opportunity to define the role WMATA, and transit writ-large, will play in the regional economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. We area asking WMATA Board members to consider a more targeted list of two principles and specific actions around service and fare opportunities, outline below.