County Passes Groundbreaking Bill for Cyclist and Pedestrian Access

Time to count one for the bike/ped community. In a 9-0 vote, the County Council passed a bill that will require the Planning Board to take into account the surrounding areas access to pedestrian and bikeway facilities when evaluating new development. In planning terms, the bill is an adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) for sidewalks and bikeways.
Route 1 in CP

 

For years bike/ped access was barely an afterthought when a new development submits its plans to the county as the focus has always been on traffic impacts and automobile access. For instance, a development projected to increase car trips at a nearby intersection may be required to add turn lanes and reconfigure the traffic signal, but would only be required to build sidewalks immediately next to the development.

This ordinance will give the Planning Board the tools they need to require developers to make off-site pedestrian and bike improvements when a development proposal is projected to increase such trips. For these improvements, developers must now build bike and pedestrian facilities in the nearby public right-of-way approaching the site to the “maximum extent possible” (up to a specified maximum cost depending on the size of the project).

County Council Vice Chairman Eric Olson (D-College Park) and council member Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) sponsored the bill which is expected to be signed by  County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

“When new development occurs, developers can now be required to invest in off-site improvements for walking and biking, rather than just cars.  As we seek to create healthier, more walkable mixed-use communities, this is an important step forward.” – Eric Olson

Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association called the county’s approach “a very simple solution.”

“If you can only get to a development by car, the development loses out,” he said.

In Prince George’s, most of the affected developers would be in what is known as the developed tier, inside the Beltway and relatively close to the county’s Metro stations. – The Washington Post

Bill sponsors believe the scope of the bill is unprecedented nationally. It may become a model for improving non-motorized transportation. Read the bill HERE. The press release is below the break.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                Contact:  Angela Rouson
Tuesday, April 24, 2012                              301.952.7484
                             CouncilMedia@co.pg.md.us

   

COUNCIL ENACTS LEGISLATION CREATING SAFE, CONVENIENT PEDESTRIAN AND BIKEWAY FACILITIES

CB-02-2012 Requires Developers to Improve Connections for Pedestrians and Cyclists

The Prince George’s County Council voted 9 – 0 on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, to enact CB-02-2012, a bill requiring the Prince George’s County Planning Board to examine whether adequate public pedestrian and bikeway facilities exist surrounding new development projects.

If pedestrian and bicycle connections to schools, parks, shopping and other destinations within a half-mile are inadequate, the Planning Board can – under this legislation – require that new developments install such connections.

Prince George’s County Council Vice Chair Eric Olson (D) – District 3, sponsor of the bill, says this legislation will create a better environment for pedestrians and cyclists, and create stronger communities.

“When new development occurs, developers can now be required to invest in off-site improvements for walking and biking, rather than just cars.  As we seek to create healthier, more walkable mixed-use communities, this is an important step forward.”

Prince George’s County Council Member Mel Franklin (D) – District 9, also a sponsor of the bill, says that walkable and bikeable communities are the right way to develop in the 21st century economy.

“This legislation will help Prince George’s County foster higher quality and more sustainable development, while ensuring that new communities connect to our older, established neighborhoods.  Mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are the essence of smarter growth in today’s rapidly changing economy.”