Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Monday night presentation on bicycling and livability in the suburbs

I have been remiss at mentioning that Monday night, Casey Anderson, a Montgomery County civic activist, middle aged biker, and member of the Board of Directors for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and myself, will be doing another presentation about best practice planning and implementation to increase bicycling take up in the suburbs.

October Program—Bicycling
The program for our October 11 meeting will be on Bicycling in Montgomery County: The Next Big Thing in Personal Transportation. Our speakers will be Casey Anderson and Richard Layman.

This program will focus on why and how Montgomery County should take bicycling more seriously as a solution to a variety of transportation problems, and on the factors that lead people to consider bicycling as an appealing transportation option -- or not -- in our area. As always, our meeting and program are open to the public, and we leave time for discussion and Q&A with
our presenters.

Federation meetings are held on the second Monday of each month September through June at 7:45 p.m. in the First Floor Auditorium, County Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD.

That means October 11th.

We did this presentation in March as part of the Montgomery County planning office speaker series. This one will be before the Montgomery County Civic Federation, which is the overall support organization and forum for the various "neighborhood" civic groups across Montgomery County.

We got an interesting "charge" from Peggy Dennis, the president. She asked us to discuss:

1. Where best practice is;
2. Where Montgomery County is;
3. How to get Montgomery County to a better practice position, recognizing that the fiscal situation is very difficult and that we have to focus resources.

Casey and discussed the fact that not only there are limited funds, but that not all investments in bicycling infrastructure are equal, that certain places have much better conditions that support the opportunity to increase active bicycling, and other places don't. This relates to transportational bicycling more than recreational activity, which is important, but a weekend activity that doesn't substantively contribute to sustainable transportation goals and objectives.

We talked about placing improvements in bicycling infrastructure and programming (and this goes for walking and transit too) in a broader context of livability, and that civic associations need to focus not just on more neighborhood specific and often parochial concerns, but on broader quality of life concerns that span neighborhoods and engage an entire community.

In a way, I think of biking as both a natural form of traffic calming, and as an extension of the streetscape and roadway principles that are commonly incorporated into neighborhood traffic calming programs--e.g., a bicycle boulevard isn't much different than a road that has been traffic calmed through design (chicanes, curb bulbouts, median refuges, improvements to street furniture, trees, and vegetation, narrowing of streets, etc.).

So those concepts will be incorporated into the presentations somehow.

And there will be a "third" presentation as part of our two presentations, looking at the pluses and minuses and opportunities in Montgomery County as it relates to bicycling (and in some respects to transportation planning and sustainable transportation) with a focus on Silver Spring as an opportunity to serve as a proof of concept for implementation of facilities improvements and significant encouragement programs (education, training, programming, media and communications strategies).

Plus... thinking of how to incorporate a cycletrack into Rockville Pike.

Rockville Pike, Bill O'Leary photo, Washington Post.

Cycletrack on Rue Berri in Montreal.

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