Planners Working on Ways to Get Residents to Walk More

Montgomery County’s first comprehensive Pedestrian Master Plan lists ways to get more people walking and being safer while doing so.

The 180-page plan is in draft form. A public hearing is set for March 23.

The goal is “to make walking safer, more comfortable, more convenient, and more equitable by improving policy and programming, prioritizing infrastructure investments and insisting on pedestrian-oriented design in all Montgomery County communities.”

About 12% of all trips by residents involve walking, which is up from 7.5% in 2018. The planning board would like to increase that amount even more and make it easier to walk to transit stations, libraries, schools and parks.

Another goal is to end the disparity in the rate of pedestrian fatalities and severe injuries. According to the draft plan, in 2020, there were 4.8 times more severe pedestrian injuries and fatalities inside the county’s Equity Focus Areas than outside those areas.

The plan strongly recommends building more sidewalks and doing so where needed, not just as following requests by residents. It also recommends that all new public buildings and major renovations include bikeways and walkways.

The plan calls for eliminating the need to press a button at an intersection to cross that street and removing obstructions like utility poles on walkways.

Other recommendations include reducing the number of intersections that allow left turns on red, raised crossings to slow traffic and the inclusion of seating, restrooms and other amenities to make it more enjoyable to ditch the car and walk.

Suggested ways to pay for these improvements including raising rates at county parking lots and creating a designated tax.

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