TESTIMONY: Montgomery County’s Pedestrian Master Plan

March 23, 2023

Montgomery County Planning Board
2425 Reedie Dr, 14th Floor
Wheaton, MD 20902

Item 7 – Pedestrian Master Plan – Support

Good evening Chair Zyontz and Planning Commissioners,

My name is Carrie Kisicki and I am speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading organization in the DC region advocating for walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way to grow and provide opportunities for all. We strongly support the  Pedestrian Master Plan draft and commend the plan’s holistic approach to achieving pedestrian safety and comfort across the county.

In particular, we appreciate that the plan acknowledges pedestrian planning as a critical tool to meet our goals around health, equity, accessibility, climate, and land use, and that we need to think about these policies as interconnected.

First, we see the plan’s recommendation of building more walkable places (B-4) as an important step to making walking trips safer, more useful, and more comfortable. Land use is a key part of walkability: we not only need to retrofit existing places and streets for safe, comfortable pedestrian use, but to think comprehensively about  building walkability into our land use policies in the future. 

Second, the plan identifies important connections between pedestrian planning and transit. The plan identifies safe crossings to bus stops as a priority (P-2b) and specifies that off-site pedestrian and bicycle access in areas surrounding transit stations should be a higher priority than car access (B7-g). These recommendations recognize that to use transit, people first have to get there safely. Prioritizing safe, comfortable pedestrian and cyclist access to transit will help to truly make transit a desirable, climate-friendly alternative to driving and reduce emissions and vehicle miles traveled.

Lastly, the plan suggests paths forward to transform deadly arterials into safe walkable places. The plan recommends updating the Complete Streets Design Guide to include transit corridor overlays, providing additional context-based guidance on crossings and target speeds on transit corridors where a disproportionate share of injuries/fatalities occur (B-4d). It also recommends transferring control of state highways to Montgomery County (B-10). 

CSG strongly supports these recommendations, which would make it faster and easier to make critical safety improvements to arterials. While transferring control of state highways to Montgomery County will be a longer term process, it is important that we are beginning that conversation now by including this item in the plan. The acute danger to pedestrians on these roadways is too urgent a problem for solutions to be held up by bureaucratic obstacles.

Car-dependent infrastructure took a long time to develop as the dominant way of organizing our communities. This plan provides the deliberate, comprehensive approach we need to reorient ourselves towards people-centered infrastructure.

We are excited to see this plan move forward and would like to thank all those who had a hand in putting this comprehensive and visionary plan together.

Thank you for your time.

Carrie Kisicki
Montgomery Advocacy Manager