The Montgomery County Planning Department’s draft of the Pedestrian Master Plan – the first comprehensive countywide plan to improve the pedestrian experience – was approved by the county Planning Board. The May 25 approval sets the path forward for a County Council public hearing where the community will be invited to testify.
The master plan will guide improvements to pedestrian infrastructure, safety and walkability in the county for years to come.
“This is a bodacious plan that provides data-driven recommendations, which when implemented will create a future environment in Montgomery County where walking and rolling is easier and more comfortable to do regardless of one’s age or ability,” Planning Board chair Jeff Zyontz said.
A point of emphasis in the plan was the term “rolling,” which refers to the use of mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and bikes.
The master plan plays a key role in supporting Thrive Montgomery 2050’s vision of walkable communities by prioritizing improvements to pedestrian infrastructure and developing pedestrian and biking networks. The plan is also complemented by the county’s Complete Streets Design Guide, a document that defines the appropriate speed limit, sidewalk width and other roadway features.
As of May 30, the county has seen seven pedestrian deaths, one including 14-year-old Elijah Miles, a student at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown.
In 2022, there was a total of 78 serious collisions involving pedestrians, 13 of which led to pedestrian fatalities, according to Data Montgomery.
Work on the plan began in fall 2019 and since then, Montgomery County Planning has held in-person and virtual community engagement events, surveyed close to 60,000 households, and collected and analyzed crash and commute data to understand the issues pedestrians face around the county, a news release said.
In drafting the plan, four goals anchor Montgomery Planning’s vision:
- Increase walk rates and pedestrian satisfaction
- Create a comfortable, connected and convenient pedestrian network
- Improve pedestrian safety
- Build an equitable and just pedestrian network
The Pedestrian Master Plan makes recommendations in line with national and international best practices and including initiatives such as widening sidewalks, building paths for pedestrians and bikes in rural parts of the county, designing pedestrian shortcuts and continuing the operation of Open Streets and Open Parkways programs.
“The plan’s recommended actions help the county continue its pivot toward embracing walkability, prioritizing safety, connecting communities, and reimagining what a suburb can be,” said project lead Eli Glazier.
There will be an opportunity for more public comment on the plan during a hearing set by the County Council. According to a news release, the date for the public hearing has not yet been set as of this time. Then in the fall there will be a series of committee and full council work sessions to review the plan.