The Coalition for Smarter Growth came out today with its Cool Communities report, that is, places that are mixed use and walkable, generating fewer auto trips and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The report has found a way to quantify diversity and local design, characteristics that are essential to community function and character, but often overlooked in more technical discussions.
Based on recommendations in the executive summary, Montgomery County seems to be doing a few things right—focusing development at Metro stations and making infill development and infill transit top priorities.
Another recommendation is to “create urban street grids” that support “walk and bicycle access to transit.” In Montgomery, all projects in most urban and suburban area include sidewalks, and outside urban areas, projects on transit routes also include sidewalks, whether they are requirements of private development or part of public projects.
It’s more of a challenge to retrofit older neighborhoods with paths, sidewalks, and pedestrian cut-throughs—from finding those routes to getting them built. A sidewalk survey could help us identify the small connections that could have a big impact on people’s willingness to walk.
Kittleson often works with communites, asking residents to map the connections they’d like to see. Here’s a study they did for the County on pedestrian safety in Wheaton.
I’ve got my community sidewalk wish list, do you?