Introducing the Greater Washington Region Safe Routes to School Network

Welcome to the Greater Washington Safe Routes to School regional network. We are  part of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership regional network project and specifically work in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia communities within the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments boundaries.

My name is Christine Green and I am excited to be the Greater Washington region policy manager and look forward to working with communities throughout the region to support walking and bicycling through policy.  I have been out and about meeting people and would love to meet more folks. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in walking and bicycling policy in the region. I know there are a lot of great people out there I have not yet met.

I live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C. I grew up in Youngstown, OH but most recently lived in Columbus before moving to D.C. about a year and a half ago. My master’s degree is in city and regional planning. I have worked for the National Complete Streets Coalition and for the Columbus Public Health Healthy Places program. I am passionate about the intersection of health and the built environment and transportation choice. I want my future children to be able to walk to school and I want to leave the car at home or better yet, not own one.

In discussions with people, I am often asked for clarification-what do I really do? Policy can be a fuzzy concept-people understand it in theory but what does it mean in practice?  There are a few specific examples I can share.

Complete Streets polices  Complete Streets policies require that when a street is designed, all users of all ages and abilities are taken into consideration. The policy sets into motion a process to change the “business as usual” model of designing streets for only cars. This is a huge step toward more walkable and bikeable communities. If all the jurisdictions in the region adopted a Complete Streets policy, we would be one step closer to traversing the region on foot or by bike.

Zoning and land use policies. As new development is built or current sites redeveloped, pedestrian and bicycle access is crucial.  In my previous position in Columbus, Ohio, the parking section of the zoning code was updated to required bicycle parking and a pedestrian path (i.e. sidewalk or crosswalk) from the street to the front door. This helped folks coming via bus or on foot to safely navigate the parking lot. And even though there may not have been sidewalks, I still witnessed people walking and getting off the bus in less than ideal situations. Routinely ensuring pedestrians and bicyclist can access the site means every destination is accessible! By the way, the Board of Health officially endorsed the zoning code changes due to the impact on health.

There are already great things happening in the region. The best practices section highlights a few policy examples that have already been published about communities in our region.  I look forward to writing up and publicizing more policies so we can learn from each other.

I hope you will be part of the Safe Routes Greater Washington regional network. Please sign up to receive notifications of future meetings check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

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