What’s Next After Rebuilding? Making Resilience Happen
Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Rutgers – Edward J. Bloustein School of
Planning and Public Policy
Special Events Forum
33 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, N.J.
With the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy on the horizon, what have we learned about rebuilding? This symposium, featuring Anthony Flint, fellow and director of public affairs at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, will focus on concrete steps that are being taken to plan, pay for and implement resiliency measures on the ground. He and the panel will revisit the Rebuild by Design competition, which yielded six winning proposals nationally (two in New Jersey), review national models that can inform New Jersey, explore how the latest advances in resilient design will be paid for and where the cost burden will fall.
There is no charge to attend, but registration is required.
Meet the Speakers:
ANTHONY FLINT @anthonyflint is a fellow and director of public affairs at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a think tank in Cambridge, Mass. He is author of Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow; Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City; This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America; and co-editor of Smart Growth Policies: An Evaluation of Programs and Outcomes. He has been a journalist for over 30 years, primarily at The Boston Globe, a policy advisor on smart growth for Massachusetts state government, a visiting scholar and Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, writer in residence at The American Library in Paris, and a practitioners fellow at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. He is a contributor to CityLab, The Boston Globe, The New Republic, Metropolis, Planning magazine, and Planetizen, author of the blogs At Lincoln House and Developing Stories, and a curator/speaker at TEDxBeaconStreet and TEDxTampaBay.
AMY CHESTER is the managing director for Rebuild by Design, a design initiative of the Hurricane Sandy Task Force and HUD that culminated in $930 million being awarded to six projects to address structural and social vulnerabilities uncovered by Superstorm Sandy. She is responsible for the day to day operations, management, fundraising, and strategy of Rebuild by Design. Chester brings considerable experience in community engagement, policy, communications and real estate development to advocate for the urban environment. Previously, Chester worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Legislative Affairs and as a Senior Policy Advisor, responsible for the engagement strategy and public vision of PlaNYC.
SHALINI VAJJHALA is the founder and CEO of re:focus partners, social entrepreneurs that design integrated resilient infrastructure systems and develop new public-private partnerships to align public funds and leverage private investment for vulnerable communities around the world. Before starting re:focus partners, Shalini served as Special Representative in the Office of Administrator Lisa Jackson at the US Environmental Protection Agency where she led the US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS) announced in March 2011 by Presidents Obama and Rousseff. Previously, Shalini served as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of International & Tribal Affairs at the US EPA and as Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Climate at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She joined the Obama Administration from Resources for the Future, where she was awarded a patent for her work on the Adaptation Atlas.
Following the symposium, New Jersey Future will honor its longtime trustee Henry A. Coleman at a cocktail reception from 6 to 8 p.m. across the street at Christopher’s Restaurant at The Heldrich in New Brunswick.
For October, the Greater Greater Washington happy hour comes to DC's Eastern Market, with a twist. We're joining up with the Coalition for Smarter Growth for their 2014 Smart Growth Social where you can enjoy drinks and pupusas and talk with Gabe Klein!
Gabe Klein. Photo by Steven Vance on Flickr.
The event is at Eastern Market, 225 7th St SE, from 6:30-8:30 pm on Wednesday, October 15. It does require a $25 ticket, which you can buy at the door or online. For that $25 you get unlimited local beer, wine, and pupusas from La Plaza (not so different from what you might spend on drinks and food at a regular happy hour); plus, it supports a good cause.
Many readers will recognize the Coalition for Smarter Growth's staff as regular contributors. Their small staff of six work for more walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented places across the Greater Washington region.
There will also be a raffle for a copy of Cards Against Urbanity, but the biggest attraction for Greater Greater readers might be meeting Gabe Klein, DC's and Chicago's former transportation director, who'll be the event's special guest.
Eastern Market is a two-minute walk from the Eastern Market Metro station (Blue, Orange, and Silver lines) and there are two Capital Bikeshare stations nearby, at the Metro and at 7th and North Carolina. From Union Station or Navy Yard, you can also take the DC Circulator, or there's Metrobus 90, 92, and 30s routes.
Our happy hour moves to a different part of the region each month. In recent months, we've been to downtown DC, Arlington, and Silver Spring. Next month, we'll be back in Virginia. Let us know in the comments where you'd like us to go!
Bicyclists can often feel like people treat their infrastructure like crap, such as parking in the lanes on a regular basis and construction closing them without offering an alternative route. But now, people are literally moving their bowels instead of their bicycles on part of the 15th Street cycletrack:
This portable toilet appeared astride the cycletrack on Vermont Avenue near H Street this morning, next to the Department of Veterans' Affairs. After Twitter user KG posted the photo, Darren Buck at DDOT sent a permit inspector to deal with it.
This isn't the first time bike lanes have encountered the brown stuff, but thus far it's been from animals: Horses occasionally drop manure in the cycletracks.
One common response to things like this is to suggest cyclists "just go around" the offending obstacle. But each incident forces people on bikes to ride into a space that either a driver or pedestrian thinks is "theirs," creating opportunities for anger and for dangerous crashes.
As Shane Farthing from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association said at a DC council hearing yesterday,Despite progress in infrastructure, enforcement, and other protections, the DC bicyclist still, on a daily basis, faces the conundrum of the angry motorist shouting at her to get off the street and the angry pedestrian shouting at her to get off the sidewalk.And even when cyclists get a small space of their own, some people treat it like a toilet.
Given current trends, 40% of DC's 9th-graders won't graduate from high school on time. A new report gives us a lot of data about what lies behind that figure. Now the question is how policy-makers can use that data to improve the situation.
Photo of high school student from Shutterstock.
The report, released last week by a public-private partnership called Raise DC, reveals that a student's characteristics in 8th grade have a lot to do with her chances of graduating on time. But some high schools do better than others at getting high-risk kids back on track. At this point, it's still not clear how they do it, or even which high schools they are.
Eighth-graders who have special education status or limited English skills are more likely to drop out of high school, according to the report. The same is true for those who are over-age, have a lot of absences, score low on standardized tests, or fail math or English. And students who have been involved with the foster care or juvenile justice systems are also at high risk.
While it's good to have all of this quantified, few will be surprised by these findings. The real question is what changes will emerge in response to them.
Raise DC, the partnership that announced the report, launched last year in an effort to bring rationality and a spirit of collaboration to DC's social service sector. The idea is that government agencies and nonprofits will work together to help improve outcomes for DC's children and youth.
The first phase of the joint effort focuses on collecting data. In addition to last week's report on graduation rates, which was done by a consulting firm under the supervision of the Deputy Mayor for Education, Raise DC put out a baseline report card over a year ago.
One of the baseline figures was the percentage of students who graduate from high school in four years: 61%. The goal is to raise that figure to 75% by 2017.
The graduation rate study tracked about 18,000 students who were first-time 9th-graders between 2006 and 2009. The students attended either DCPS schools or one of four public charter schools: Perry Street Prep, KIPP, Maya Angelou, and Cesar Chavez.
While the report ranked high schools on how well they improved students' chances of graduating on time, it didn't attach school names to the results, and DC officials wouldn't release them. But school leaders received data for their own schools, and a working session on Friday gave them a chance to begin formulating strategies to address their school's weaknesses.
Here are some questions they and other policy-makers might want to consider:
How early should we start focusing on kids who look like they're at risk of dropping out?
The report targets danger signs in 8th grade, but other school districts have begun looking for them even earlier. Montgomery County, for example, is now looking for red flags as early as first grade.
While no one wants to stigmatize young children, the sooner schools start focusing on problems with attendance, behavior, and coursework (the ABC's of early warning signs), the less difficult it will be to address them.
How can we help schools that have a lot of high-risk students?
High schools that do the most to help high-risk students graduate have very few of them, according to the report. One conclusion might be that you should spread those students around, so that no school has a high concentration of them.
But that's unlikely to happen. Of the 16 schools that did best in improving students' chances of on-time graduation, only two were neighborhood high schools. The others were selective DC Public Schools or charters, with generally low numbers of high-risk students. You can't just assign high-risk students to such schools.
In fact, it's far more likely that high-risk students will be concentrated in a few schools: the report found that 50% of the students who fall off-track right away in high school attend just seven different schools.
But there's one school, identified in the report only as "School 7," that seems to do well despite the fact that 29% of its students are high-risk. It's a traditional public school with a 59% graduation rate. That may not sound impressive, but it's 20 percentage points higher than predicted, given the school's student body. It would be nice to know what is enabling that school to achieve those results.
What can we do to reduce the number of students who switch schools?
Every time a student switches from one high school to another, the report says, his chances of graduating on time sink by 10 percentage points. And 30% of DC students switch schools at least once during their high school years.
One likely factor contributing to DC's high student mobility is a lack of affordable housing, which can cause low-income students to move frequently or even become homeless. A study released last year revealed that thousands of students exit and enter DC public schools midyear.
This is a problem not just for those students, but also for the DCPS schools that have to take them in. The disruptive effects of that kind of student churn recently led New York City to exempt two struggling high schools from the obligation to admit students mid-year.
The bottom line is that increasing DC's graduation rate, like other efforts directed at closing the achievement gap, is going to require more than just classroom reform. Schools can do a lot, but government agencies and non-profits will also need to address housing problems, mental health issues, and a host of other poverty-related ills.
In theory, Raise DC should make it easier to put in place the kinds of cross-sector strategies that are necessary. But it's still too soon to tell if that theory will translate into practice.
Photo by Kevin Harber on Flickr.Clawed pays for Screech: American University will foot the bill for late-night Metro service if Nationals playoff games run late; the Nats themselves have continued to refuse to pay. In the 2012 postseason, LivingSocial agreed to cover it. (City Paper)
What about soccer?: A stadium for DC United at Buzzard Point could draw 46 events per year and have higher transit use than RFK, says a transportation report. There would also be 1,300 parking spaces nearby. (WBJ)
Silver lining for bike parking: Metro has added parking for 20 additional bicycles at McLean Station. The 72 existing spaces had been filling up daily, while 600 motor vehicle spaces remained unused. (PlanItMetro)
Less money from cameras: Traffic camera revenue in DC unexpectedly declined thanks to it taking longer than expected to roll out new cameras, higher speed limits, and more people obeying the law. This could create a $50-70 million hole in the budget, but a Gray spokesperson said it's "not a bad thing." (Post)
Charter school turnaround: A third of all DC charter schools have shut down, often leaving families to search for new schools. New operators, who have taken over many, keep the school community together but can bring culture shock. (Post)
Stop for the hand: Post columnist John Kelly asks pedestrians to stop crossing streets against the light or entering intersections once the red hand starts flashing to keep traffic running smoothly and to limit emissions.
Shipping container complex: The shipping container apartment building in Brookland is almost complete. The developer claims the units are ecologically friendly and is looking to develop more units in Northeast and on the Potomac waterfront. (UrbanTurf)
No bar here: A proposed bar at 18th and Swann in Dupont got turned down for a liquor license. Unlike most liquor fights, many pro-bar people came out against this particular one. (Barred in DC)
Transit strife: Jerusalem's light rail system seeks to serve all residents of Jerusalem, but has faced adversity through vandalism and a 70% decrease in ridership during this summer's war. The city has begun using drones to police the infrastructure. (CityLab)
And...: DDOT may make streetcar rides free for the first year. (City Paper) ... The McMillan projeect won approval from the Zoning Commission, but opponents will likely appeal. (WBJ) ... Richard Bradley will step down as head of the Downtwown BID. (WBJ)
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It's time for the twenty-fifth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are five photos of the Washington Metro system. Can you identify the station depicted in each picture?
We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.
The answers will appear on Wednesday. We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for you.
Do skylines matter? Planners in Arlington say they do, and are re-planning Rosslyn to give it a better, more sensible one.
Rosslyn is the most prominent cluster of tall buildings in the Washington region, and with more development coming it's only going to get more substantial. To get Rosslyn right, planners must grapple with how the height and form of such tall buildings affects their surroundings.
Realize Rosslyn will be Arlington's plan to transform Rosslyn from a dense but historically car centric area to a more pedestrian friendly place. Among other things, the plan will delve into how building scale, mass, and views affect aesthetics, light, air, open space, and walkability.
What's at stake?
Existing policy in central Rosslyn is to taper building heights so the tallest buildings are near the center, with shorter ones on the edges. That keeps the greatest building heights closest to the Metro station, and makes for a gradual transition from quieter nearby streets.
But the existing taper policy isn't perfect. The rules aren't specific on how the taper should occur, nor do they prescribe lower densities in areas with shorter buildings.
And then there's the hill.
Rosslyn is on a steep hill, sloping up away from the Potomac. Between the hill and the taper, some buildings may not be able to simultaneously meet their permitted densities while satisfying the taper rules.
In short, two different policies are pushing development in Rosslyn in two different directions.
Meanwhile, existing policies also need to work economically. If new buildings can't go tall enough to make it worthwhile to knock down an older building on the same site, property owners may not redevelop at all.
That may stand in the way of achieving the community's goals for a more walkable, up-to-date Rosslyn. To meet those goals, county planners need to develop better rules to allow them to happen, rather than rules that work against each other and don't work economically.
That means looking strategically at where and how taller buildings might be appropriate.
And of course, it's still more complicated. Skyline planning is a balancing act. Taller buildings still need to comfortably transition to adjacent neighborhoods, and maintain views from the public observation deck atop the future CEB Tower, and minimize shadows. All in addition to the normal things planners have to get right, like sidewalk retail and walkable design.
Three scenarios, next steps
For Rosslyn, planners are developing multiple alternate scenarios looking at the effects of different building masses. There are scenarios for individual sites, and collectively across central Rosslyn.
These images are a sneak peek of preliminary work, but more details will be available to the public when planners present their initial modeling work at a meeting on Tuesday, September 30.
Later this fall, the community will use the modeling work to help formulate specific recommendations for Rosslyn's form and massing.
WMATA General Manager/CEO Richard Sarles will retire in January. Has he left WMATA better off than he left it? What should the agency look for in a successor?
We asked our contributors for their input. Also, I talked about these questions with Jennifer Donelan on Channel 8's NewsTalk Friday:
As I said on the show, I think Sarles provided a stability and a focus on safety that the agency desperately needed to regain confidence from both riders and public officials after the crash. He's put the system back on a solid footing.
Metro has to keep being safe, for sure, but also has different challenges going forward. WMATA needs public support to get the funding it needs for eight-car trains and a new Rosslyn station. It has to win support for roadway changes to improve bus service. All of these require relating to people and working with leaders outside the walls of the Jackson Graham Building.
Winning public support also will require doing more on customer service, including actually beefing up service as well as reducing problems between employees and riders. As Donelan noted in the interview, Sarles is not a highly-visible public figure, and WMATA may need someone who is more comfortable talking to the press and to the public.
Michael Perkins pointed out that many challenges face WMATA. He said tasks over the next decade include:
- Receive the 7000 series railcars and integrate them into operation
- Implement the [next generation] electronic fare program
- Test and integrate [Silver Line] phase 2
- Plan and sell the region on some sort of core infrastructure improvement
- Continue to sell the region and riding public on the Metro rebuilding program
- Implement signaling repairs and upgrades on lines other than the Red Line
- Manage a substantial capacity upgrade in bus operation (possibly constructing new bus garage sites or expanding existing sites?)
- Work with jurisdictions to deliver bus route improvements like dedicated lanes, off-vehicle fare payment, or signal priority
- Operate the 2nd largest heavy rail transit system in the US
- Operate one of the largest bus systems in the US
- All while dealing with more than four funding jurisdictions in a widescreen public fishbowl.
Hopefully Metro's next GM will continue Sarles' great progress on rebuilding and safety, while doing a better job to remember that better customer service is the whole reason rebuilding is important in the first place. WMATA needs a GM who's committed to minimizing disruptions to riders, to putting out the very best transit service practical, and to fully explaining to customers why and when less-than-stellar service is necessary.
Bottom line: Sarles revolutionized Metro's maintenance and safety cultures. The next GM needs to revolutionize its customer service culture.What skills and priorities do you think WMATA's next head needs?
400,000 people—or 0.1% of the US population—flooded the streets of New York City for the recent People's Climate March. But if we're to make a difference, the outpouring of support for action on climate change needs to translate to action locally.
Photo by Climate Action Network.
With the evidence, and the movement for serious action on climate change, growing every day, it's the moment for those of us in the DC region working for more sustainable, inclusive cities to push for change. In order to act globally, we have to work locally.
The march was led by those hit first and worst by climate change, from Superstorm Sandy survivors to Pacific Islanders. That's because climate change is no longer a problem of the future, but one that is unraveling before us with each extreme weather event. The derecho delivered that wakeup call to the DC region, while new reports continue to highlight the vulnerabilities of our region to storm surges, flooding, and sea level rise.
In recent years, climate change has moved far beyond the domain of liberals into the center of concern for such mainstream institutions as the US military, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Washington Post editorial board. That's because many are waking to the fact that climate change is quite possibly the biggest threat to human existence that we have ever faced.
And yet, in the face of overwhelming evidence, we continue to fail to muster the political will to do much of anything about it. That's where this community has a huge role to play.
We know the role that smart, compact development and sustainable transportation options can play in cutting carbon emissions; report after report has documented how our transportation and land use decisions taken together could make an enormous difference.
Today, the average household in a dense, transit-oriented household emits approximately half as much carbon as a household in low density suburban development. With transportation and buildings together making up approximately 70% of regional emissions, steering more development toward compact, transit-oriented neighborhoods is critical.
At the same time, the general public intuitively understands that those living in a walkable, urban community typically drive less, live in and have to heat or cool less space, own less stuff, and generally use less energy in their overall lifestyle.
But of course, it's always easier to agree on solutions in theory than to agree with how to implement them in practice. Urbanists see this multiplied tens and hundreds of times over again, whether it's traffic engineers insisting we need to build ever more road capacity while shrinking biking and walking amenities, like with MCDOT's plans for White Flint. Or neighbors preventing more people from living near transit where they could drive and emit less, like at Takoma station.
These battles we fight throughout the region sometimes seem small, but added up and multiplied over time, their outcomes will mean a huge difference in our region's contribution to climate change.
We also of course need to try to pull the larger political levers available to us. The Transportation Planning Board (TPB) forecasts that it will not meet the climate change goals that the region has agreed to in its transportation plans. They say transportation emissions will continue to rise till 2040, but per capita emissions will fall. Unfortunately, the climate is not concerned with how we slice and dice the numbers so long as more carbon is pouring into the atmosphere.
A recent report by ITDP is one of the few that has mustered the courage to suggest and actually model what so obviously needs to happen: stop investing in new road capacity, and make major investments in transit, walking, and cycling infrastructure. Not surprisingly, transportation emissions would dramatically fall 40% more than following a car-centric pattern, while also happening to save the world economy $100 trillion. With 1200 new lane miles for cars in the pipeline in this region, now is the time to get serious about shifting investments away from new carbon-intensive infrastructure, and towards sustainable transportation options.
"HS" refers to ITDP's "High Shift" scenario that would entail major shifts of public investment away from car-oriented infrastructure and to walking, cycling, and transit infrastructure. Image from ITDP.
It's likely that most people aren't thinking about climate change and humanity's future when debating that new sidewalk that might tear up their lawn, or that new bus lane that might slightly lengthen their commute, and it's hard to blame them. That's why in decisions large and small, it's our job to invite our fellow residents, planners, bureaucrats, and elected officials to join us in looking at the big picture.
Too often, conversations over land use and transportation issues devolve into petty and self-interested fights. It's difficult to flip a switch and change in an instant all of the car-oriented infrastructure we've built over the last 50 years.
But if we all call on our neighbors, traffic engineers, and elected officials to pick their heads up out of the weeds and join us in taking on the biggest issue of our time, one sidewalk, bike lane, and affordable transit-oriented development at a time, we just might do our part in the biggest fight of our lives.
Kelly Blynn was a co-founder of 350.org and is currently the Next Generation of Transit Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. However, the views expressed here are her own.
Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.To pop or not to pop: DC row houses are getting pop-ups and pop-backs to add housing and accommodate more individuals. However, longtime residents worry these additions could affect the neighborhood character. (WAMU)
Navy Yard a hit: Nats Park is a central part of life in Navy Yard, but the area has evolved as a liveable, family-friendly neighborhood. Will new construction push out older businesses or can they benefit from newcomers? (Post)
Play place DC: As more families choose to live in downtown DC, they are finding limited playground space for children. One parent is trying to build her own. (Post)
Benefits for Buzzard Point: Neighbors of the proposed soccer stadium at Buzzard Point want a community benefit agreement to address area needs such as affordable housing, job creation, and a community fund. (DCFPI)
Redeveloping Grimke: All three redevelopment plans for DC's Grimke School include a museum and residences. The site is well located across from the U Street Metro, but restrictions from DC have limited what the site could be used for. (UrbanTurf)
Lake of debate: Lake Manassas could reopen to the public for recreational uses such as fishing and boating. Reopening the lake has caused concern for the threat to drinking water and cost to residents. (Post)
Dining outside gets easier in DC: The number of sidewalk cafes in downtown DC has nearly doubled since 2009. The Downtown BID confirmed the area has experienced 8% growth in outside dining just in the past year. (DCist)
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The bicycling community comes together at the annual Wisconsin Bike Summit. 1000 Friends Transportation Policy Analyst Ash Anandanarayanan will be presenting about Transportation and Climate Change at this years bike summit. The event will be held on Friday, October 10th at 9am at Edgewood College in beautiful and bikeable Madison, WI. This year’s Summit focuses on harnessing our collective...
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Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.
Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!
White Flint's master plan calls for a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly road. The Montgomery County DOT (MCDOT) is disregarding that plan and says it can only build such a road once traffic declines. That's a backward way to look at changing travel patterns.
Would you build safe ski trails only after novice skiers showed up?
People for Bikes uses an excellent ski area metaphor to explain why creating a complete grid of safe walking and cycling infrastructure is so critical. Especially in suburban areas, bicycling and walking most places would be considered a black diamond adventure, not for the faint of heart.
Ski areas design their trails so that the vast majority of people who are not expert skiers can find a safe and easy way all the way to the bottom. No ski area would build only black diamond runs and then announce that it would be happy to create some green circles, but only once there are already a lot of novice skiers on the mountain. The novice skiers only come when there are appropriate trails for them. The same goes for walkers and cyclists.
DC has proven that changes to street designs cause shifts in travel patterns. Its transportation department has invested heavily in a network of new bike lanes and protected cycle tracks in recent years. Just last week, new census figures showed that the number of bike commuters in DC shot up from 2.2% in 2009 to 4.5% in 2013, placing DC second only to Portland.
DC didn't wait to prove that there were a lot of cyclists on a particular road before making it safe for cyclists. Instead, it made cycling more attractive, and the cyclists showed up.
Road designs drive change; they don't need to wait for change
The White Flint Sector Plan, which came out of a long planning process, extensive public input, and county council action, clearly calls for a four-lane road with bike lanes, sidewalks, and a shared-use path that's part of a Recreation Loop.
County transportation officials are instead planning road that's eight lanes if you count block-long turn lanes, with no bike lanes and no Recreation Loop path. They say state rules require a wider road in White Flint until traffic levels decline, when they could rebuild the road to match the plan.
The logic of re-building a road twice makes little sense. If this is really a state requirement, then White Flint provides the perfect opportunity to change or get an exception to whatever regulation prevents the safe street design promised to residents.
The goal of the White Flint sector plan is unmistakable. The first sentence reads, "this Sector Plan vision establishes policies for transforming an auto-oriented suburban development pattern into an urban center of residences and businesses where people walk to work, shops and transit."
More specifically, the plan aims to increase the number of residents getting around without a car from 26% to 50%. It should go without saying that the county will never reach those goals if it spends its limited dollars making it more difficult for people to walk and bike.
But MCDOT and the state are focusing first and foremost on moving cars. If land use changes and a better-connected road grid also make car traffic decline, they maybe they will redesign the roads to accommodate those pedestrians.
This is the wrong approach. The road design inherently encourages or discourages people from walking or biking. When people see a brand new, wide open road, they see it's easier to drive and are more likely to do so. When they know there's a wide, safe path all the way to Metro, they are more likely to opt to bike or walk. Conversely, when they have to cross eight lanes of hot pavement only to walk on a dirt path where the sidewalk is missing or there's just a narrow sidewalk next to high speed traffic, they make that choice only if they have to.
As White Flint community leader Ed Reich wrote, "I know that having to cross a road that wide will be a substantial deterrent to going to Pike & Rose, despite the great restaurants and shops starting to open there."
Travel patterns already are changing
While it's a mistake to wait for patterns to shift before making roads safe for non-auto users, the patterns in fact are already shifting anyway.
In the last ten years, Montgomery County added 100,000 residents while driving leveled off and started to decline.
Meanwhile, as more people have begun to move into the White Flint area, Census data shows that already 34% percent of residents in the surrounding census tract are commuting by transit, carpooling, walking, or cycling, and 58% own one or zero cars.
White Flint can transform into a walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented area. But to do that, it needs roads that match this vision, rather than ones that hold the vision back.
WILLIAM CRONON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2014 – 7:00 PM SHANNON HALL (THE RESTORED WISCONSIN UNION THEATER) MEMORIAL UNION 800 LANGDON ST, MADISON, WI (MAP) As we celebrate in 2014 the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act—which has protected more than 100 million acres of U.S. public land—it’s well worth pondering this remarkable achievement. What do we...
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