February 15, 2019
For me this week, a big theme has been walkability and pedestrian safety. You’ve seen the wrenching news about pedestrian crashes. Just last Wednesday, five pedestrians were struck in a single day.
To get the County sufficiently focused on this problem, the Council passed a Vision Zero resolution in February 2016 (3 years ago) that committed the County to achieving zero fatalities on our roadways.
The Leggett Administration followed up by presenting a two-year action plan and announced the intention of developing a separate 10-year action plan. We seemed to have momentum at that time.
I am concerned now that we lost what momentum we had. For instance:
- Of the 41 action items in the two-year action plan, 20 are behind schedule or not yet started.
- The County has not started the 10-year action plan
- The County has not hired a Vision Zero coordinator
- The new County Executive has recommended cutting funding in the Capital budget that helps us meet our Vision Zero goals, including funding for Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Areas (BiPPA), a program I have championed which allows us to make fast improvements in the highest need areas of the County.
Not all of the news is bad. Last fall, the State Highway Administration (SHA) engaged with the Council and announced some changes that it plans to make that prioritize safety, and expressed openness to a new approach. It is a start.
The Council too has a important role to play in making sure we reduce serious and fatal collisions on our roadways.
We are now reviewing the Veirs Mill Corridor Plan, which is a great Vision Zero plan and focuses on changes needed to promote safety in that area. Read recent coverage of that plan here.
We need to make safety a higher priority in our infrastructure, which is why I advocated–and my colleagues agreed–to restore funding to those BiPPA programs as well as for the pedestrian entrances to our Metro stations (White Flint and Forest Glen) at the Transportation Committee this week. My colleagues also supported my request to accerelate planning and design for BRT on Veirs Mill Rd. We have a long way to go before we will know what we can afford in our capital budget. But the Committee’s actions are a great and necessary step forward.
We also need to get back to our Vision Zero plan. The Transportation Committee will soon review the County’s progress on implementing the plan–a special thanks to Chair of the Committee, Councilmember Tom Hucker, for agreeing to a worksession.
We need to take action.
During a shutdown, feds ride free
The Council approved a resolution I authored that would allow the County to waive fares for federal employees and contractors to use RideOn during a future government shutdown. This will enable the County to act more quickly next time.
Farm Breweries, Wineries: Part Two
Following up on an initiative that I organized last year with our farmer and maker communities to expand farm breweries, wineries, and cideries, the Council approved a zoning change that allows these businesses in 25 acre lot size, rural residential zones. Two young brothers want to open one in Olney, which would be the 4th brewery in that part of the County (Brookeville Beer Farm, Waredaca, and Elder Pine).