Category: Take Action

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: Tell City Council you support transit, walking, and biking

City Council is set to vote on Alexandria’s updated mobility plan following a public hearing on Oct. 16. This plan is critical for more sustainable and equitable transportation in Alexandria — focusing on increasing walking, biking, and transit options, while making our streets safer for all users and modes. Let’s make sure it’s approved! If you haven’t yet, tell the City Council that you support the updated mobility plan.

Send an Email Today

In addition to sending an email, you are encouraged to speak at the upcoming public hearing in support of the plan’s goals for mobility in the city. 

City Council Public Hearing – Oct. 16 at 9:30am – Sign Up to Speak

The Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) is the result of a community-driven planning process that identified key priorities and recommendations to improve reliability, safety, and travel options in the city. The AMP strives to:

  • Give all Alexandrians convenient options in how they travel
  • Make transit easy to use and more reliable 
  • Continue towards Vision Zero designing safer streets and reducing speeding
  • Complete missing pedestrian and bicycle connections
  • Utilize technology to improve safety and efficient use of the street network
  • Proactively and equitably manage curb space for different needs (dining, bikeshare, loading/pick-up, parking, etc.)

The updated mobility plan will set a course for Alexandria to continue moving towards a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city. You can review the final draft of the AMP and learn more at the project website here

Support the Countywide Map Amendment (aka “CMA”), while preventing displacement

The CMA is critical to building quality, walk- and bike-friendly communities and vibrant, transit-oriented downtowns. That’s why CSG is urging the Council to implement this once-in-a-generation zoning rewrite. We’re close to the end of a process that began in 2014 – putting in place modern zoning regulations to replace 50 year old rules!

Send a message to the Council today!

However, we’re concerned that, in some cases, aging apartments in designated transit centers are proposed for significant upzoning without sufficient protection for residents against displacement. Therefore, while supporting the CMA, we’re asking the County to adopt one of the fixes we’ve proposed to address this problem. We’ve included our suggestions in the sample letter we’re providing to you. You can also read more about our solutions in CSG’s testimony here

ACTION ALERT: This coffin is a dramatic illustration of what’s at stake

ACTION ALERT: This coffin is a dramatic illustration of what’s at stake

Image: Sonya Breehey

Last week I joined the Gum Springs community demanding a safer Richmond Highway. The coffin included in the protest is dramatic, but captures just how dangerous our roads are. Fairfax County continues to experience high rates of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries with 10 people killed already this year.

The Washington Post story captures the energy of local community members led by Queenie Cox and the New Gum Springs Civic Association fighting for safer streets. This community is showing that together we can make a difference.

Creating safe and connected ways to walk and bike in Fairfax County will take a strong vision and solid plan to overcome the disconnected and dangerous conditions we face today. That’s why the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan is so important. Let’s make sure Fairfax County knows there is strong support for making active transportation a safe and viable option to get around our communities.  

Email Fairfax County Today

The County is currently seeking public input on the plan’s draft vision, goals, and objectives before it goes to the Board of Supervisors for approval. This is the first part of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan being developed that will be a road map for a safe and convenient network of sidewalks, bikeways, and trails in the county. 

There is a virtual public meeting tonight, Sept. 15, at 6:30 pm where you can learn more about the plan and ask questions directly to staff. Check out the Active Fairfax Transportation Plan website for information on the plan and how to join one of the meeting. Public comments will be accepted through September 19. 

We need safer streets and better walking and biking now. Remember to ask the county to move quickly from vision and goals to actually funding needed safety improvements!

Action Alert: here’s your chance to tell elected officials how you travel & what to build

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) wants to hear from you as they update their long range transportation plan, TransAction. Take a short survey to let them know about your travel modes and preferences.

Take the survey!

The survey also includes two important questions about the transportation future we want. For Northern Virginia – and for our children and grandchildren – we need one that is more sustainable, healthier, safer, and where we cut the emissions that are fueling climate change. 

NVTA is a regional funding agency for transportation projects. Unfortunately, their long wishlist of road expansion projects included in past TransAction plans won’t get us to our urgent climate targets – even with the important transition to electric vehicles. Northern Virginia needs more walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible communities – and the transportation projects that support this vision.

Thus far, NVTA has not seriously considered the option of improving our transportation network and access to jobs by bringing jobs, housing, and services closer together in walkable communities. So, when they ask about “reducing congestion” or “improving access to jobs”, the agency is generally viewing this through the lens of making traffic faster through more road widening. The science shows widened roads attract more driving and fill up in as little as five years.

Parting thoughts

This time the TransAction plan has to be different, especially if we are going to slash the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation that are contributing to climate change. Studies at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments have repeatedly shown that the best performing approach to transportation is a network of walkable, transit-oriented communities. 

Stay tuned as we campaign for a better TransAction plan.

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: Support a stronger Climate Action Plan in Prince George’s County

Given the urgency of the recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, we know we don’t have time to neglect key solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, you can help Prince George’s County adopt smart growth climate solutions that are a win-win for people, the economy, and the climate. 

Here are two ways to help: (1) send an email to the County Climate Action Commission (if you haven’t already), and (2) attend the upcoming virtual Climate Action Plan community meeting on August 19th.

TAKE ACTION: Voice your support for stronger County climate actions

Transportation (mostly from cars and trucks) makes up the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions at 48%, but the County’s draft plan misses opportunities to reduce emissions with smarter land use and transportation policies. Electric vehicles (EVs) and telecommuting are important but not enough. Smart growth solutions — transit-oriented development (TOD), affordable housing options close to jobs and services, better transit, and safe walking and biking, are effective and equitable strategies to reduce transportation-related climate pollution AND improve livability and prosperity in the county. 

We commend the County Climate Action Commission for including three recommendations to reduce emissions through smarter land use and transportation. But to make an impact, these must be strengthened, including by:

  • Prioritizing walkable, transit-oriented development and affordable housing
  • Expanding employee transit benefits and implementing free fares
  • Expanding transit service
  • Making streets safer for people walking and biking

Want to get more involved? Join the upcoming Prince George’s community meeting on the Climate Action Plan on August 19 evening. 

RSVP: Climate Action Plan Virtual Community Meeting Thursday, August 19th, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Get more background by reading CSG’s climate recommendations for Prince George’s.

Take Action: Will Maryland’s Board of Public Works vote to expand highways during a climate crisis?

On Wednesday, the three-person Maryland Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on the contract to widen I-495 and I-270 with four private toll lanes. This vote is happening before critical financial and risk analyses and a final environmental impact statement are complete. We are calling on the Board to delay the vote.

Good government demands that members of the Board of Public Works and the public should know the full fiscal, environmental, and social risks of this project by completing the environmental impact study before the Board of Public Works votes — certainly before locking Maryland into a long-term, exclusive contract. 

To be clear, we agree that we need to address the Beltway and I-270, but the process has been distorted from the beginning because of the power of the toll road companies and Governor Hogan starting with the conclusion first and failing to objectively consider alternatives.

Evaluation of alternatives is particularly important because the highway expansion will harm hundreds of acres of parkland, wetlands, and waterways, as well as lead to more noise, air pollution, stormwater runoff, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Join the rally Wednesday morning! At 8:45am on August 11, join us and our environmental and community partners at a rally/press conference tomorrow morning. The plan is to gather at 8:45am at the Treasury Building at 80 Calvert St. in Annapolis. More info about speaker to come. Directions and parking options here.
  2. Call Comptroller Peter Franchot: Before 10am on August 11, call Board of Public Works member and State Comptroller Peter Franchot at 410-260-7801. Here’s what to say: My name is X, and I am a resident of (insert city). I’m calling to urge Comptroller Franchot to delay a vote on the I-495 & I-270 initial contract until after the final Environmental Impact Statement is complete and we know the risks. Talking points can be found here.
  3. Testify or submit written comments as soon as possible:
    1. Submit written testimony to email.bpw@maryland.gov, mdcomptroller@marylandtaxes.gov, and Treasurer@treasurer.state.md.us
    2. You can testify in-person at the Treasurer’s Office in Annapolis or virtually. Send request to email.bpw@maryland.gov and specify you want to testify in opposition on item 11-GM. 

This project isn’t worth the high cost to parks, streams, neighborhoods, taxpayers, and drivers. Instead of investing in transit-oriented communities — especially in Prince George’s County — it condemns residents of the east side of our region to forever having more costly, long commutes. Read more in CSG’s executive director’s op-ed in the Baltimore Sun.