“Walkability” is an increasingly popular measure of a community’s quality of life. By enhancing the convenience and ease of walking, it reduces traffic, improves health, increases community involvement, and puts more eyes on the street for safety. So how does Rockville rate? Walk Score calculates walkability on a block-by-block basis, generating color-coded maps. In the map of Rockville, green indicates the areas that are most walkable (such as downtown) and red the least walkable (such as Horizon Hill west of 270). Around town, they’ve calculated how the following locations fared on a scale of 1-100:
- 85 Very walkable: Maryland Avenue and South Adams (West End)
- 75 Very walkable: Baltimore Road and Grandin (East Rockville)
- 66 Somewhat walkable: Twinbrook Parkway and Viers Mill (Twinbrook)
- 65 Somewhat walkable: Fallsgrove Boulevard and Fallsgrove Road (Fallsgrove)
- 65 Somewhat walkable: Redland Boulevard and Pleasant (King Farm)
- 63 Somewhat walkable: West Montgomery and Laird (West End)
- 48 Car dependent: College Parkway and Princeton (College Gardens)
- 35 Car dependent: Falls Road and Kersey (Horizon Hill)
I’m sure this will generate controversy and prompt comparisons between neighborhoods (what!? Twinbrook rated the same as Fallsgrove and King Farm? Not possible!) but I’d really like to encourage a discussion about making our community more bike and pedestrian (and sometimes car) friendlier.
What makes a neighborhood walkable? According to Walk Score, the more of the following characteristics it has, the better:
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
- People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
- Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
- Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
- Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
The City of Rockville recently received federal funds to develop “complete streets” near the Twinbrook and Rockville Metro stations, so scores for those locations (and pedestrians using those locations) should improve as a result. Any suggestions to make your neighborhood more walkable? Should walkability be a goal for Rockville?
Get to know your city a bit better through the upcoming Homes and Hospitality Tour on Saturday afternoon, May 12. Peerless Rockville organizes this special one-day exploration of a neighborhood every two years, and this year’s focus is East Rockville. Most people don’t realize that this neighborhood east of the tracks not only has one of the densest collections of historic houses, but also some award-winning contemporary homes. Once directly connected to downtown Rockville via Baltimore Road, after the streets were rerouted in the mid-20th century, East Rockville became hidden and forgotten, with many of the houses being cut up into apartments or falling into disrepair. During the last couple decades, however, young couples and entrepreneurial investors saw the potential of this derelict neighborhood and began restoring the historic houses or building new ones on rare empty lots. Interest in this neighborhood continues to grow given its long history, its architectural diversity, and its proximity to Metro, MARC, and downtown.
The Tour includes six different places to visit at your own pace and in any order: three historic houses, two modern houses, and one public building. All have remarkable stories (one of the first electrified houses in the city, another linked to a typhoid epidemic, and another that stands on a former “laboratory to prepare for Armageddon”–wow!) and by exploring them together, you’ll leave with a new appreciation for your community and be inspired by the care of your fellow residents (several have won awards). Unlike most home tours, however, the event is staffed by many community leaders (so you may greeted by your Mayor, Police Chief, or State Delegate), many local restaurants provide refreshments (such as Carmen’s Ice Cream and Tower Oaks Lodge), and music is provided by local artists and students. For $25, it’s a bargain for a special afternoon in your own town (and a great gift for Mother’s Day!) but if you buy in advance or if you’re a Peerless Rockville member, you can get a discount of up to 25% off. Get your tickets in advance at PeerlessRockville.org or on the day of the event at the Pump House at 401 South Horner’s Lane.
With about thirty other residents, I attended the public meeting on the “Baltimore Road Intermodal Access Project” at Glenview Mansion on Wednesday night, February 3. The City of Rockville is studying the entire length of Baltimore Road from the Town Center through East Rockville and Twinbrook to the city limits at Rock Creek.
A bit of background
Emad Elshafei, chief of traffic and transportation, opened the meeting by stating that Baltimore Road was studied nearly ten years ago but wasn’t implemented due to lack of funds. In 2006, the City received a federal appropriation of $4 million spread over a series of years for planning and implementation (and the City needs to provide a 20% match). The City also expanded the scope of the project to consider the needs to pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as connect to the new Town Square. Earlier this year, the City hired Rummel, Klepper and Kahl (RKK) to lead the study, documentation, and planning with the assistance of several city staff members. RKK is based in Baltimore and their previous projects include the Wilson Bridge and the Downtown Charlottesville Pedestrian Mall.
First of three public meetings
This public meeting is one of three planned prior to construction in summer 2011–if funding supports the project costs. RKK is conducting a survey of the entire route and this meeting was merely to Continue reading →