Advocates are trying to make walking safer in the area around the White Flint Metro Station in North Bethesda by posting safety tips in highly trafficked areas such as sidewalks and crosswalks.
Walking in the area, called the Pike District, is relatively new, said Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the Friends of White Flint. “Even as close as a year and a half ago, you’d rarely see people walking. Now you see people walking all the time,” Ginsburg said Wednesday. “Because of that change, we decided we needed an emphasis on pedestrian safety.”
Since 2010, planners envisioned that White Flint one day would be more walkable, where transit, residential units, services and jobs would be centralized.
Pete Tomao, Montgomery County Advocacy Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, called it “suburban retrofitting.”Because of the transition, the Friends of White Flint wants to make the area as walkable as possible as quickly as possible, Ginsburg said.
“The easier we can make it for people to walk here, the more vibrant this area will become,” she said.
The dozens of signs on utility poles around Rockville Pike are the most visible part of the Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign, launched this week by Ginsburg’s group and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
Tomao said the signs have 10 different slogans. One near a pedestrian signal takes a spin off Salt-N-Pepa: “You have to push the button, push it real good.”
One for wider streets says, “There’s no crosswalk here. We wish there was.”
The campaign aims to highlight pedestrian-friendly improvements, educate pedestrians on the safest way to navigate the neighborhood, and invite people to share their own suggestions for making the Pike District more pedestrian-friendly.
A community meeting is planned for at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in the White Flint area around Metro (the location hasn’t been set yet) to discuss options. In the meantime, Ginsburg offered several possible solutions.
She said bushes need to be trimmed along sidewalks. And crosswalks need to be more visible.
“Cars aren’t expecting pedestrians,” Ginsburg said. “That’s not the habit everybody has in the White Flint area.”
There needs to be sufficient lighting for sidewalks as well as for streets, she said. Because the blocks through the Pike District are long, mid-block crossings are needed.
“This isn’t a car versus pedestrian issue. I think oftentimes it is seen as a win-lose argument. And it’s not. Everyone wins on this one,” she said.
To learn more about the campaign or to get involved, visit pikedistrictpeds.org.