Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photos from Fenton Street

These photos were taken today - snow event +11

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten Days Later...

The Exxon on Thayer and Fenton plowed theur lot clear - but moved the anow over the sidewalks. MCDOT plowed the intersection and did the same thing - push the snow over the sidewalks. Ten days later, and the ramps at this intersection are still blocked with plowed snow and ice? '
What's the excuse this time? Everyone too busy to go back and pick-up the slack? Can't someone besides me see this? Is it really true that MC will only respond to complaints?

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Example of Something that Worked,

I took this photo on Sunday - eight days after 24-inches of snow.

Two years ago I asked MCDOT to make this section of sidewalk wider - mostly so that it would be easier for ME to shovel. Well, last year they did what I asked and widened this section.

As you can see, the wider sidewalk means that less of the walkwayis covered by plowed snow. Imagine this walkway three feet narrower.

This worked like a charm. Thanks KB!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Montgomery County to Pedestrians: "You're on your own..."

After making a number of calls and sending a few emails it became clear to me that Montgomery County wasn’t going to do anything to help me clear the sidewalks near my house – sidewalks I need to get to Metro, Safeway, Downtown Silver Spring, and elsewhere. In order to get where I am going I have to walk in the street, or cut through the ice and snow myself. So, I did it myself.

It took three hours of continuous hard work to get the way clear to the Ride-on bus stop at 850 Sligo Avenue. I still didn’t make it to Fenton – maybe tomorrow. Dozens of people walked by in the street while I was working. A Ride-on Bus let someone out with no way to the sidewalk and drove off, leaving them to fend-off the cars behind. This is an atrocious situation that is so very dangerous – people walking home from work in the street at dusk. A recipe for disaster.

I called my Councilmember, the Director of the Regional Services Center, another person at RSC, and Jeff Dunckel. I was told that MCDOT is not “resourced” to clear snow plowed on to sidewalks. BULL. This is a training situation, not a resource issue. Plow operators can be trained not to cover intersections with three-foot-high Ice Dams while they are plowing. ”There is nothing we can do,” is just not an acceptable answer.

Montgomery County has am obligation to make the ROW accessible for all users after a winter storm. Sure, it takes a couple of extra days to get sidewalks cleared, but it is now FOUR DAYs LATER and sidewalks in MC are still blocked. Thousands of Pedestrians are walking in MC streets RIGHT NOW. This is an atrocious situation and a recipe for disaster.

Too bad for you pedestrians. You will just have to deal with it the best way you can. If that means spending several hours digging-out your neighbors’ walks and local Ride-on stops, so be it. As second-class citizens, you pedestrians are on you own. I am a blind guy who had to dig himself out because the County wouldn’t respond to my pleas for help.

I have done my part today – trying to make-up for the lack of responsibility and consideration of others. Still, you can’t seriously expect pedestrians – including the elderly, children, or people with disabilities - to be the front-line for digging-out their transportation system themselves, can you? I guess you can – at least in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Human Snowplow

This morning, my son and i set out to clear the sidewalks from our house to Fenton St. Unfortunately, the new sidewalks on either side of Woodbury run along the side of two properties, not the front. So, these property owners are not required by law to shovel their walks.

This stretch includes about 80 ft. of sidewalk and two intersection ramps. This was entirely covered by snow and ice plowed from the road surface. In particular, the intersection was three feet thick with hard ice plowed from the street.

We got as far as we could, but when we reached the Berg at Woodbury, we were forced to admit that this was more than the two of us could handle. I called Rich Romer in Councilmember Ervin’s office and asked what I should do. He said he would check into this and call me back. I told him I would put some photos up for him here.

Later, Rich called and told me that he had talked with Volunteer Services – as instructed by the County’s website – and was told that they no longer coordinate snow removal with the Fire Department( I was not aware that the Fire Department was doing this). He told me that they suggested that I call the Silver Spring Fire Department directly. I told Rich that I really didn’t feel comfortable doing that – especially considering the size of the job.

I sent an email to Mel Tull at the Silver Spring Regional Services Center to ask if the “Red Shirts" could go 80-feet down Sligo with some equipment to get this stretch open. Otherwise, you can't get there from here - at least, not without walking in the street.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

(online location)

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Failing to plan..."

First of all, I want to thank Jeff Dunckel for everything he has done to bring about a mutually-beneficial solution to the situation. I hope it works! I am sure that I was the least-calm person involved in this, but Jeff took it in-stride and always worked to improve the situation, rather than make things worse. Montgomery County should be grateful that they have him. I know I am.

PEPCO and MCDOT met in front of my home on Monday morning, and agreed upon a new course of action that would bring this segment of sidewalk more into compliance with ADA guidelines. PEPCO is putting the new poles in the parking lanes – closer to the center of the ROW. MCDOT will come behind and extend the sidewalk out two feet into the parking lane. There should be plenty of room on this newly-widened sidewalk.

Furthermore, I am very hopeful that MCDOT will quickly develop a self-evaluation and transition plan for utility poles in County ROW.

MDSHA needs to do the same. They have detailed transition plans for a lot of issues, such as; ramps, APS, crosswalks, etc. There is nothing in there plan about utility poles. Given that there are probably thousands of utility poles like this one in the middle of a sidewalk – MDSHA needs to address this issue immediately. Until then, MDSHA is in violation of federal law –sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Barden v. City of Sacramento, CA
On January 22, 2004, the court granted final approval of the settlement in Barden v. Sacramento. This case set a nationwide precedent requiring cities and other public entities to make all public sidewalks accessible. As a result of the court's ruling in this case, public entities must address barriers such as missing or unsafe curb cuts throughout the public sidewalk system, as well as barriers that block access along the length of the sidewalks. Following the court victory, the parties reached a settlement addressing all sidewalk barrier issues City-wide. The settlement provides that for up to 30 years, the City of Sacramento will allocate 20% of its annual Transportation Fund to make the City's pedestrian rights-of-way accessible to individuals with vision and/or mobility disabilities. This will include installation of compliant curb ramps at intersections; removal of barriers that obstruct the sidewalk, including narrow pathways, abrupt changes in level, excessive cross slopes, and overhanging obstructions
; and improvements in crosswalk access.

USDOJ amicus briefs filed with the courts in support of the appellants (Barden):

MDSHA should know this already, because they just took a knock from FHWA for APS.

Finally, let me just say that I am tired. The last week has worn me out. The next time you feel resentment from something you read here, remember than I am not having fun, I’m not getting paid, and I don’t have an assistant or team working for me (well, MCDOT, sometimes). I am doing this because I think it is the right thing to do. I am not looking for trouble – trouble is looking for me.
(I moved inside because I didn't want to be a distraction to the workers.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"X" Marks the Spot

I spent Tuesday on the phone – pleading and threatening as a crew took steps to replace the utility pole in front of my house with another one. Of course, they did it all wrong. No thought what ever given to how the installation would impact pedestrians – even though I have been talking about it for two years straight. How did this happen? It’s a mystery that no one seems to fathom.

Fortunately, there was no hostility. Everyone was polite. Them fellas was from Tennessee, so I put on my best North Carolina accent and we got along just fine. Of course, how could anyone expect a crew from Tennessee to know local conditions in Montgomery County? I first talked with a dusty, bearded man with a concrete saw yesterday morning. He told me lots of things about what they were doing. I asked where they wanted him to put the hole for the new pole. He said, as he pointed to two spots on the ground,” I thought I might put it right here, or right there.” So, This guy from Tennessee with the saw in his hand is the same guy who decides where the hole goes. I tried to talk to him about ADA, and things like wheelchair clearance, but he didn’t seem too interested.

I really thought that I might end-up in jail, because I was going to get this project stopped – one way or another. If I hand to stand in the hole until law enforcement came to take me away, I was ready. I think I was ready, anyway.

PEPCO was having trouble figuring-out who was doing the work. Early in the afternoon I got a call from a Mr. White with PEPCO. He asked if I knew the name of the contractor, because he couldn’t find who would be working in the area. I told him that I was visually impaired, and couldn’t read the name on the trucks, so I took the phone outside and gave it to one of the crew. That’s right, PEPCO didn’t even know they were there. PEPCO found out they were there by calling ME. Montgomery County doesn’t know they are there? PEPCO doesn’t know they are there? Everyone is conveniently in the dark as we ignore ADA.

X marks the spot where this one battle takes place. It seems insignificant – even trivial. But this one pole stands for the thousands of utility poles that spring-up in our sidewalks. Poles that are invisible obstacles. Invisible because we choose not to see them. In a place like Silver Spring, we need new eyes- eyes that see these obstacles for what they are. Eyes that look for proactive solutions, rather than excuses. As a pedestrian, I am tired of being treated like a hot potato – tossed from one agency, department, committee, or coalition to another – only to find more excuses. Tired of being told that progress takes time. Tired of going to meeting after meeting where the topics never change and the results never measure-up.

X marks the high-water mark. This is where I stopped it – if only for a day. Anyone with me?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Walking Backwards

As expected, a PEPCO contractor started cutting concrete and diggina hole for the new poles next to the old one. I got on the phone and called a few people – anyone who could get them to stop and take a closer look at what they awere doing.

Late in the day they installed the new pole, which is larger than the old one by a few inches, and is blocking even more of the sidewalk. I have not had a chance to look at the others yet, but I expect similar situations.

Tomorrow MCDOT aand PEPCO will meet on my street to look at the situation and discuss solutions.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Following the Poles

One of the most ubiquitous and annoying features of Downtown Silver Spring streets is the lowly utility pole. Aside from carrying power and communication, these poles cover Silver Spring like a pin-cushion – where they cause all kinds of grief for pedestrians.
The unofficial symbol for Silver Spring should be the tilted and twisted utility pole. The sculpture at Gateway Park on Fenton st evokes the poles – as if to highlight their prominent (unavoidable) place in our community. They are a major obstacle in so many places

Today I discovered that white “Xs” had been painted on a number of utility poles on my street. I have been complaining about these poles for a while now, so I am hoping that the pole are slated for replacement. I just hope that PEPCO is planning to replace them with something modern and ADA compliant. Lines on these poles have burst into flames and dropped to the ground twice within the last year. If someone had been beneath them when they fell, well, no telling what might have happened.
MCDOT just recently completed the first round of pedestrian improvements on Sligo. I hope that PEPCO and Montgomery County will take this opportunity to do the right thing – the SMART GROWTH thing – and replace these poles with better, ADA compliant infrastructure..

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pedestrian; S.O.L.

This afternoon we went to the Safeway to do Thanksgiving shopping. On the way back we ran across a tree service truck parked over the sidewalk. Couldn't get my 100lbs. of groceries past the truck, which was still running. We waited for a few minutes, thinking that the driver would return. No one came. I heard a chainsaw in the back yard of the house where it was parked, so I went back looking for the driver. I found him and asked if he would please move his truck. I asked him why he didn't use the parking lane instead of blocking the sidewalk. He said he didn't want to get "boxed in." I told him that a lot of people walked here, and some of them were pushing strollers or had service animals, and this kind of thing was dangerous. He moved his truck, but as we passed he pulled it right back up on the sidewalk – this time even more.

When I got home I called the Police non-emergency number and reported the truck. I waited about 45 minutes, and then went down to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t.

I called again, and even went in to the 3rd District Station – right across the street. No one seemed to know how to handle my complaint, and the receptionist there told me to call the non-emergency number again, which I did.

After about a 20-minute wait, two officers met me in the parking lot of the station. Basically, they told me that there was nothing they could do, and the the roadway was their priority. I asked if they could see the possible dangers brought on by this obstacle, and they didn’t really seem to care. They cut the conversation short, and went in to the station. When I left, the truck was still parked there, blocking the sidewalk.The sidewalk was blocked for more than two hours.

I did exactly what I was advised to do by my Councilmember, and by Sgt. Harmon. I knew it would’nt do any good, but I tried anyway. I was persist ant, but I tried always to remain polite. I was direct, but I never raised my voice or cursed. Everyone was polite, although I felt that the Officer was a little annoyed with my persistence. It took a big chunk out of my afternoon,and I left disappointed. Better luck next time, I guess. See, I told you that pedestrians are not respected in Montgomery County! Hey Pedestrians - TOO BAD! You will just have to keep dealing with things like this as best you can. Is this acceptable in a Smart Growth area? Don't we want people to be able to get around without driving? Don't we need reliable ROW access for pedestrians for that to happen? If this kind of thing can happen, then the ROW is NOT reliable for pedestrians.

Pedestrians in a Smart Growth area must be treated AT LEAST as equals. If you want to do it right, pedestrians should get preferential treatment in places like Bethesda and Silver Spring.

STAY SAFE. Don't try anything chancy. Obey the law, even if that means re-tracing your steps(even if you are towing 100lbs of groceries). The time you could save is not worth your life. Go to a crosswalk! Take your time. When you come across these obstacles, don't put yourself in danger by walking in the road! Find another way around, but stay out of the street!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Step on a Crack..."

Sunday, November 22 was a warm, sunny day, so Kathleen and I decided to take Opie for a walk. We walked over the Bridge across the CSX/Metro tracks at Burlington Avenue, past the new Montgomery College Arts Center, and down Georgia Avenue to Walter Reed. Great walk of about a mile.

On the way back up the hill, we walked through a part of Sheppard’s Park, which has some really interesting architecture. The streets were quiet and the sidewalks were empty. Piles of leaves in the street gutters as leaf-blowers whirred down almost every street.

Georgia Avenue, all-in-all has pretty-good sidewalks. But – step a few feet from Georgia and the sidewalks deteriorate quickly. Forgotten passages – such as the bridge over the CSX tracks – are often in poor shape… clumsily patched with asphalt, broken and uneven. One trip hazard after another. Connectivity of pedestrian infrastructure in Silver Spring is really very poor in some places. How do pedestrians get to the adequate sidewalks if the adjoining sidewalks are obstructed? How does a person with a disability negotiate infrastructure that is broken, disconnected, or obstructed?

By the Way... Montgomery County Sidewalks look worse than DC sidewalks. DCDOT takes much better care of pedestrians than does MC. Just so you kinow...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Under my Umbrella

For most people, an umbrella must do one thing well - get you from the doorway to the vehicle, and the reverse. It usually doesn't take much to accomplish this, so most people sacrifice durability for compactness. I think a lot of people look for cheap umbrellas that they don't mind forgetting on the sink in the bathroom, or on the trash can at Star buck's.

But what if you have the kind of life where few vehicles are involved? What if you walk everywhere? You need something better than a pocket umbrella. You need something durable and large enough to keep you dry. For a pedestrian, an umbrella is an investment. I keep one for years. They are usually stolen. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to choose between making time, being safe, or getting wet. There are so many places in Silver Spring that are not "Umbrella Friendly," that I usually just stay in when it rains. Yes, I do have sense enough to come in out of the rain.

Still, there are times when it rains long enough that going outside can't be avoided. There are many utility poles, parking signs, and overhanging branches that make using an umbrella impossible in places. Pedestrian friendly means umbrella-friendly, in my book. You can't simply measure the ground, you must measure the entire space through which pedestrians must cross - all the way up to the head or the tallest person. And you must also take into account the space through which a pedestrian's umbrella must pass when the weather is inclement. For people without cars, being able to walk with an umbrella is essential.

unfortunately for me and many others, Downtown Silver Spring isn't particularly umbrella-friendly. The 1950's-style utility poles everywhere make walking difficult when the weather is good, and downright frustrating when it isn't. Surely, Smart Growth would include some plan to re-configure the power and communications infrastructure in Silver Spring. If we are building a new world here, shouldn't we consider re=building thees systems, and design them so that they don't create these insidious cracks in our pedestrian infrastructure?

Sidewalks aren't just stretches of concrete, they are The Pedestrian Transportation System. Like all systems, Pedestrian infrastructure needs planning, maintenance, and an occasional infusion of new ideas.-Two of these three examples have been resolved. You will still get wet feet and/or a face-full of water crossing Bonifanrt,if you're not careful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carry-Out Chinese

On Tuesday we had the kitchen floors re-done, so we decided to order food for dinner. We didn't want pizza, and most of the delivery-Chinese around here isn't very good. No, in order to get good Chinese food in Silver Spring, you must go to Oriental East - in Blair Plaza. They don't deliver. That means crossing Georgia Avenue.

Kids both had tons of homework. Wife had a long day at work. So, I decided to try it by myself - I'll walk to Oriental East at night, alone.

I decided to walk across the railroad bridge over Georgia Avenue. At Fenton, I crossed west and took a left, choosing not to walk down Sligo, because you often have to walk in the street against oncoming traffic.Lights in your eyes. You would never see it coming. Gist is not busy, and it comes out right across from the bridgehead. Never mind that you have to walk in the grass a little.

The bridge itself actually affords a nice view of Silver Spring - especially at night.

I could imagine this being a preferred place to cross, if the infrastructure were improved. It is a very dark place. Some of the lighting is out.Kind of scary.The tunnel, however, is not scary anymore. When the kids were little they called this the "Pee-Pee Tunnel."

Now it is lighted, looked-after, and decorated. There is still graffiti, but tghe overall experience is nice.

I cut through what used to be Blair Mill Road., past the Veridian, and down East-West Highway. Past Discovery Studios and Acorn Park. I press the button and stand at the crosswalk just past Blair Mill Rd. Dark again. This is a pitiful crosswalk for the number it serves.Dark, dirty, dingy, and under-marked. I am worried about getting across safely. I take my time. This is my greatest frustration and fear - getting across a busy street with no help. Where is a Boy Scout when you need one?

Needlessness, I make it, but I have to cross immediately again because the construction site there IS STILL BLOCKING THE ROW. WHY??? I have to walk down almost in front of Blair Plaza Apartments to cross, only to cross again to get to Giant. This is very confusing - especially in the dark. Cars don't bother stopping.

The front of the Giant is one of the poorest-designed places in town. Many people walk there or past there - , but the sidewalk is less than three-fee-wide. You have to turn sideways when passing an oncoming pedestrian. Forget any kind of cart here. We lived in Blair Plaza for three years, so I know this place and how to get around. Otherwise, it would be a little sketchy, I think.

On the way back, I walked up East-West Highway to Georgia Avenue. The sidewalks south of Discovery Studios are horrendous. WHAT IS SHA DOING???These conditions have existed for years. Is there some special circumstance that prevents SHA from fixing this? I know they are aware of it. The sidewalks are broken, patched with uneven asphalt, muddy, and full of trip hazards. They lead to one of the most dangerous intersection in Montgomery County - Georgia and East-West Highway.

Frightening five-point intersection. Worn-out crosswalk markings. DARK. HUGE crossing distances and short cycles. It reminds me of Frogger.My guess is that SHA just doesn't think anyone walks here - especially at night. It's all about the car.

I decide not to brave a crossing here. I love life too much. Instead, I go back down under the tunnel, and cross at Sligo Avenue. Not in good shape either, but at least I know my way there. I know how to grab the wires and swing around.

I leave right after I call, and when I get there the food is ready. When I get home the food is still hot.The whole trip took about 40 minutes. Barely broke a sweat on this rather warm night. Would be easier and safer if the Metropolitan Branch Trail were in Place. Phase One will make this kind of trip fun. I will root for this project more later...

Monday, November 2, 2009

A TRIP to Glenmont.

Will and I took Metro to Glenmont this morning, on our way to get new IDs at MVA in Glenmont Shopping Center.

The intersection at Georgia and Layhill Rd is not good for pedestrians. The ramps are too steep, too close together, and the concrete is cracked and uneven.

TThe crosswalk markings are worn-down, and the entire crosswalk system is old, ill-conceived, and full of trip hazards and excuses for pedestrians to cross at some place other than the marked crosswalks.

On the way home we stopped in Wheaton Plaza. We found this temporary walkway at the site of the sidewalk project outside of the Wheaton Metro.TOO NARROW. I did not measure the passage, but I think it is awfully close to be in violation of ADA guidelines> Has anyone check to see?

Finally, on Fenton st we see another example of how temporary and seasonal conditions can make bad infrastructure even worse. Fallen leaves cover and obscure missing pavers in these tree boxes all the way down the street. This is a piece of poorly-designed and executed infrastructure that is liable to injure someone. Hundreds of people walk by here everyday. This is just not acceptable - and people in County government have known about it for years. Why is this being tolerated???

Saturday, October 31, 2009

SUV - Supermarket Unmotorized Vehicle

This is an essential piece of equipment for any committed pedestrian. The cart folds for carry and storage. For heavy items - or lots of items - a cart like this really does make not having a car possible.

This cart holds enough groceries to last our family of four for a week. It weighs about 20lbs., and can carry up-to 150lbs. It cost about $90. This particular cart has about 100 miles on it. I expect it will last for another 100 miles.

It is also essential that sidewalks in Montgomery County be repaired so that they are not brokem uneven, or poorly-designed. Things like tree boxes with stones, rather than grates, can really cause a problem for a pedestrian trying to get home with a 100lb. cart of groceries. I have retired more than one cart because of a hole in the sidewalk or an asphalt patch that has sunken over time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Smart Growth Lost

Dr Weast, US Surgeon General David Satcher, and MHTSA Administrator Dr. Sue Bailey at East Silver Spring ES for Walk to School Day. Harriet Tregoning is at the podium in the photo on the lower left.

I was first introduced to Smart Growt back in 2000, when I met Secretary of the Office of Smart Growth, Harriet Tregoning. She came to help celebrate Walk to School Day at East Silver Spring ES. In 2003, she came to speak at a meeting I organized to support Smart Growth in Montgomery County. Many "Slow-Growth" Councilmembers had just lost their seats, and I thought it was mainly because they seemed "anti-everything" to a lot of voters. I beleived that people wanted to vote for candidates who were FOR somet hings, too.

Many of the peoploe who came to the meeting were from Bethesda - the first wave of Smart Growth retro-fit in Montgomery County. These people were skeptical about Smart Growth, saying that it was used as an excuse to circumvent established Mmasterplans, and expedited the process where ordinary citizens couldn't keep-up. They claimed that Smart Growth was not real, but was being used to sell ultra-high density development.

The meeting was strange. I don't know what I was thinking at the time. Still, it informed me - if no one else. I got to spend a lot of time talking with some very smart people - with opposing views, in some case. I heard the stories about sprawl and loss of green space. Impervious surfaces, pollution, loss of habitat for wildlife, etc. I know first-hand how liviable an urban community can be if it is designed well. I thought fighting and losing this war was not an option. I had naive notions of people finding common ground and working together. Even thought I didn't agree with everything that was said, I respected the people who spoke-up. I was especially impressed with Marc Elrich and Jim Humphries. They had REASONS for their positions. They had experience and instincts that I didn't have.

I don't feel that way anymore. This is not to say that I have been won-over by one side or the other. I still beleive what I beleive - that working together is the key. I just don't know if our community can pull it together enough to demand that Smart Growth be Smart, not just Growth. I still beleive, but people have to fight for it. It won't happen by itself. Left unattended by the public, it will tilt towards those who are looking for profit.

Fortunately, Smart Growth came with a set of principles that we can refer to. Again, these were introduced to me by Harriet Tregoning.

Principles of Smart Growth
Create Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
Providing quality housing for people of all income levels is an integral component in any smart growth strategy.

Create Walkable Neighborhoods
Walkable communities are desirable places to live, work, learn, worship and play, and therefore a key component of smart growth.

Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration
Growth can create great places to live, work and play -- if it responds to a community’s own sense of how and where it wants to grow.

Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
Smart growth encourages communities to craft a vision and set standards for development and construction which respond to community values of architectural beauty and distinctiveness, as well as expanded choices in housing and transportation.

Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair and Cost Effective
For a community to be successful in implementing smart growth, it must be embraced by the private sector.

Mix Land Uses
Smart growth supports the integration of mixed land uses into communities as a critical component of achieving better places to live.

Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty and Critical Environmental Areas
Open space preservation supports smart growth goals by bolstering local economies, preserving critical environmental areas, improving our communities quality of life, and guiding new growth into existing communities.

Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
Providing people with more choices in housing, shopping, communities, and transportation is a key aim of smart growth.

Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
Smart growth directs development towards existing communities already served by infrastructure, seeking to utilize the resources that existing neighborhoods offer, and conserve open space and irreplaceable natural resources on the urban fringe.

Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
Smart growth provides a means for communities to incorporate more compact building design as an alternative to conventional, land consumptive development.

Are these principles being observed in Montgomery County? Some? Most? You tell me. I, for one, can only answer one of these definitively. The Second Principle is , "Create Walkable Communities." We're definately not doing that. People are working hard to make things better, but we need to do more to say we are living-up to that principle in places like Silver Spring. I will be happy to repeat some suggestions in future posts...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Letting go...

For the first time in two years, Montgomery is not online. I just don't have the money to keep it going. I had hoped to find others who might be interested in forming some sort of group, but nothing really developed over the last two years, and I don't see anything forming anytime soon. It would have been nice to form a group that could raise money and direct an effort to change pedestrian infrastructure and policy in Montgomery County.

I have given it a try. I have spent more of my personal money trying to get pedestrian improvements that I care to admit. Hundreds over the last two years - and countless hours. Some of the expenditures produced results and some did not. I am mostly happy with the outcomes. Persisteence is a needed thing, but sometimes a change of direction works just as well. It is going to take me some time to figure-out how to do what I was doing before, only better and cheaper. I still want feedback. Stop reading and thnking and actually write. Too many goose-eggs down there.

It was sad to click on the link and find the Oops! message...

There is a lot of stuff on that site.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Safety in Numbers

Montgomery County Police deployed a device on Sligo Abenue to count vehicles and measure their speeds. I asked for Sligo Avenue to be considered for photo-enforcement in 2007, so I guess this is the result of that - amoung other things. This was done in three locations, for one week each.

I asked Councilmember Ervin's office for a look at the reports, and Sgt. Harmon dropped by my house with two sheets last week. Here is a look at the report for two of the locations.

Wow. What an interesting report. Amazing numbers. Why don't we have anything like this for pedestrians?

In my opinion, it is every bit as important for the County and SHA to have reliable numbers on pedestrians in key areas. They don't. They have only very narrow counts - not serious numbers. The technology exists to count pedestrians now - off-the-shelf. Not even really expensive. The Smart Growth Principles that we embraced when we stareted building all of these high-rises must not be forgotten after the buidling is finished. Studies show that there is safety in numbers - that more pedestrians means fewer collisions, less crime, nad a better bussiness environment. Lets use a constant-study of pedestrian trends to gauge the success of pedestrian programs, not just deaths and injuries.

This is an example of the kind of system used to count pedestrians. Developed for retail - Malls and large department stores, this technology could easily be re-purposed for pedestrian counting on MC sidewalks.

I want MCDOT and SHA to look into this technology - give it a try somewhere. I think the resault will surprise a few people.