Prince George’s needs better-connected improvement – Larger Larger Washington

A fence separates a residential neighborhood from a bus cease.  Picture by the creator.

Prince George’s County’s proposed zoning ordinance contains new rules to encourage connectivity between developments for folks strolling, bicycling, and driving. The County Council is presently contemplating overhauling the 50+ year-old zoning code and adopting a brand new one to information future improvement.

The proposed ordinance goals to higher replicate the city, suburban, and rural improvement patterns within the county. It encourages transit-oriented improvement, reduces parking necessities the place transit is an possibility, constructs extra environmentally-friendly buildings, improves public participation within the improvement assessment course of, and will increase entry to meals, amongst different issues.

The brand new zoning code prioritizes connectivity

One factor of the proposed ordinance is stronger connectivity necessities for brand new improvement initiatives. Connectivity means direct linkages for folks and cars between and inside neighborhoods, between residential and non-residential initiatives, and between buildings and close by transit. That is essential as a result of it helps scale back visitors congestion and makes neighborhoods extra protected and handy for folks strolling, bicycling, and taking transit.

Residential subdivisions with out connectivity could make transit much less handy and fewer possible for use.

Connectivity is commonly inspired beneath the present ordinance, however it’s not required. Since it may be tough to coordinate with neighboring properties, native businesses, and close by residents, many builders select the less complicated route and decide in opposition to connectivity. This turns the county into islands of neighborhoods and business areas which can be shut collectively because the crow flies however are very tough to succeed in.

Limiting connectivity happens in any respect scales. Generally large-scale residential developments deliberately restrict connections to close by subdivisions for concern of drivers or pedestrians slicing by. Particular person business developments may additionally select to restrict connectivity as a result of it’s too tough to coordinate the timing of building or the upkeep of a connection between completely different property house owners. Typically since there is no such thing as a mechanism within the present ordinance requiring connectivity, it doesn’t occur.

The proposed ordinance makes use of a number of approaches

Car cross-access is required within the proposed ordinace. Meaning when a business improvement like a retailer or workplace or restaurant is constructed, the developer might be required to construct a roadway connection between itself and the neighboring property. That is useful as a result of folks is not going to be required to drive alongside the principle highway to go from one enterprise to a neighboring enterprise. This may also lower down on visitors congestion.

Unconnected companies require clients to drive again out on to the principle highway, creating extra visitors to journey to the following constructing over.  

The draft ordinance additionally proposes utilizing a Connectivity Index for brand new residential subdivisions, which is new for the county. This index requires builders to think about the variety of entry factors into deliberate subdivisions, in addition to the variety of cul-de-sacs. It will make the highway structure of neighborhoods extra grid-like and accessible.

For folks strolling and bicycling, the proposed ordinance recommends extra connections between a brand new improvement and adjoining transit stations, bus stops, public parks, greenways, colleges, neighborhood facilities, and procuring areas. It will make it simpler for folks to instantly stroll or bike from one space to the following.

The proposed rules additionally embrace new walkways for crossing giant parking heaps. These enhancements make it not solely extra handy to stroll and bike, but additionally safer.

The proposed zoning ordinance would require pedestrian connections at some cul-de-sacs, making it simpler to stroll, bike, and take transit.

Lastly, the draft ordinance proposes pedestrian connections at culs-de-sac. This may enable folks strolling or bicycling simpler entry to principal roads, and get rid of the commonly lengthy route from a cul-de-sac to the principle highway.

Higher connectivity helps everybody

Whereas these new necessities is not going to instantly make Prince George’s higher for strolling, transit use, bicycling, and driving, it is going to over time enhance the variety of connections between and inside developments. It will in flip enhance the general transportation expertise within the county.

The ordinance might not absolutely handle the issues that presently exclude connections from being constructed, however it is going to give buyers, builders, and builders the chance to suppose extra multimodally and create their very own modern options to enhance entry and mobility within the county. Higher connectivity is not going to solely make it simpler to decide on to stroll, journey a motorcycle, or take transit, but additionally create extra direct routes for all modes, which is able to scale back the deleterious results of vehicle dependency.

The proposed zoning ordinance was offered to the County Council in on the finish of April 2018 and it is accessible on-line. The council has not but voted to undertake the laws. In case you have any questions or feedback concerning the ordinance, please attain out to your councilmember.

Bryan Barnett-Woods is a transportation planner in Prince George’s County with the Maryland-Nationwide Capital Park and Planning Fee. Along with bicycling and rowing, Bryan likes nothing greater than a superb stroll within the metropolis. He lives in Barney Circle along with his spouse and younger son. The opinions expressed on this submit symbolize Bryan’s opinions solely and don’t symbolize the opinions of his employer.

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