October 18, 2011
Today’s Transportation Committee hearing focused on several issues
that I want to see us move quickly to address. First was pedestrian
safety. As a county we must move to promote walkability so that there
are meaningful alternatives to driving everywhere and clogging the
roads. The County Executive has implemented an effective pedestrian
safety initiative that appears to have had a strong positive effect by
reducing pedestrian crashes.
A big portion of that discussion focused on walkability and school
safety. I was interested to learn that the county reviews data and
makes improvements for a quarter mile “walk shed” for our schools, but
the actual walk shed for that school could be a half mile, three
quarters of a mile, and so on. I plan to discuss this issue more with
our transportation officials and see if there are any changes that we
need to make.
Finally, an invigorating discussion on bikesharing. The county has
pursued federal grants for several years to build a bikesharing
system, as DC and NoVa have done with great success. The revelation
in the meeting for me was viewing the bikesharing operation as an
additional transit system that we can put in place. Already since its
founding just over a year ago, the capital bikesharing program has
generated more than one million trips.
Committee Chair Berliner pushed very hard, noting that our relative
lack of a bikeshare transit system is embarrassing to the county and
needs to be resolved. I asked the County DOT for us to be the first
jurisdiction in the state to apply for a new bikesharing program that
the state government is going to fund on an 80-20 split. As our DOT
pointed out, we will need to figure out where the resources come from
on our end, as these are very tight budget times.