Parents with children at Wilson Wims Elementary School in Clarksburg finally got what they wanted after years of campaigning for a traffic light and crosswalk across Snowden Farm Parkway. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation announced in a March 13 letter that it will install a traffic signal at Snowden Farm Road and Grand Elm Street by the fall of 2015.
While Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Areas were first created 20 years ago by state legislation, the program has been slow to start. Now, as driving has begun to decline in the county over the last decade and rates of walking, cycling, and transit use in the county have been on the rise, it’s more important than ever to ensure it is safe and comfortable to walk, cycle, and take transit. Last year, people driving struck 483 people who were walking in the county – 60 more people than in 2013. We have much more work to do.
Young people and families increasingly want to live in walkable, transit-accessible communities like Rockville, with its mix of both old and new walkable neighborhoods. Empty-nesters looking to downsize are looking for new housing options that allow them to stay in and continue to contribute to the community.
Kelly Blynn, who leads a “next generation of transit” campaign for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, credits the department with launching the new system of Bikeshare stations around the county. But she said Montgomery is lagging behind Northern Virginia, where a walkable Arlington and the new Silver Line hold strong appeal for those seeking less car-centric lives. “A director who understands transit, walking and cycling will be key for the county’s economic development,” Blynn said.
The Friends of White Flint displayed the designs next to what the Sector Plan recommended. Together with the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Friends group encouraged supporters of a more pedestrian-friendly road design to write to county officials. So far, more than 350 people have written emails calling for an Old Georgetown Road design that matches the Sector Plan, according to the group.
Stewart Schwartz of the DC-area’s Coalition for Smarter Growth contested the idea that street redesigns have to be put on hold. ”The traffic engineers are nervous about the interim period,” he said. “They don’t recognize that congestion always provides a feedback signal. If there’s congestion, people change the time of day of their commute; they change the mode of their commute; and you’re likely to see more transit riders. What this points to is the need to move faster in redesigning these places and incentivizing redevelopment.”
We are submitting comments in support of the Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014 and for Council member Grosso’s amendment to cover pedestrians in addition to cyclists with this bill. The District of Columbia’s continued use of contributory negligence presents major barriers for cyclists and pedestrians alike to recover damages in the event of a collision, and widespread misunderstanding and uneven enforcement of bicycle and pedestrian laws only compounds the problem.
By 2017, officials want D.C. to be a World Health Organization-defined “age-friendly” city for older adults. A report released by the Coalition for Smarter Growth today finds that, while the city has policies in place that work toward this goal, there are many improvements to pedestrian and transportation infrastructure needed.
DC is doing a lot to be a more age-friendly place, but there are still many ways the city could do more. In particular, local policymakers and planners can focus on three areas to help DC’s older adults get around more easily: pedestrian safety, public transit, and alternative transit options. All of these, along with better mobility management options, will make it possible for seniors to have better choices and feel more comfortable in their communities as they age.
Of course, there is no place like home. But when you’re an elderly resident of the District, sometimes it seems that there is no place to go without significant barriers. Senior citizens make up 11% of Washington DC’s population. And living in a city that requires mobility to take advantage of brings more challenges with advanced age. To keep the capital amenable to the elderly while on the go, it seems necessary to focus on three things: pedestrian safety, public transit, and alternative transit options.