Streets for All Modes in Chevy Chase Lake
For decades streets have been designed with one form of transportation in mind: cars. Gas was cheap. Man-made climate change was just being explored and big SUVs were the vehicle of choice. Now we find ourselves in an era of new realities. Gas is expensive, climate change is real, and on nice day wouldn’t it be nice to just stroll over to your favorite restaurant? No, I’m not saying we should all ditch our cars and walk or bike everywhere. Wouldn’t it nice to have a safe alternative though?
Unfortunately, that same auto-only design that facilitates cars moving as fast as possible from one place to another inhibits your ability to walk safely to the same places. You’ve seen it many places all over the County: poorly kept sidewalks that put you inches away from a speeding truck, corners that curve to allow cars to take them as quickly as possible, and lights timed in a way that you barely have time to cross. We can do a better job of designing streets that will allow pedestrians and cyclists safe passage to their destination. The idea is to make those non-auto modes a viable alternative and even encourage them whenever possible.
Because we want to use this website to talk about redevelopment in a non-technical manner, I feel like pictures and real examples will illustrate this point. Natural Resources Defense Council blogger Kaid Benfieldwrites about three tests that are appropriate here.The first is the ‘Halloween Test’, or in other words, do you feel safe taking your kids trick-or-treating at night. The other is the ‘Popsicle test’. Can a 10 year old walk safely from their home, buy a popsicle, and return before it melts? And finally there is the ‘Tourist test’. Although we don’t get many tourists in Chevy Chase Lake, think of the towns you may have visited in places like France, Spain, or Italy. Many of these cities were designed before the car, not for the car. They are walkable, compact places that create a sense of community and improve our quality of life.
The study of what creates a pedestrian-friendly community has produced many modern best-practices that allow all modes, including the car, to live in better harmony. The Walkable and Livable Communities Institute focuses on this study and is a good resource to consider when you’re looking for more information on this topic. AARP is another resource and has written a great study on implementing redevelopment projects that support active living. The paper is available on the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute website, which you can access by clicking here. It’s a little early to talk specifically about design elements for Chevy Chase Lake, but that’s why we want to hear from you. We will be incorporating these best practices into our project and we would appreciate your feedback on which ones are most important to you by clicking the button on the right side of this page. We’ll post a follow-up article discussing some of the most popular practices.
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