Montgomery County Council Passes Resolution to Support Continuation of The Open Streets Program

Montgomery County Council Passes Resolution to Support Continuation of The Open Streets Program

Read the resolution below:

1. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery Parks launched the Open Parkways
program, closing portions of Sligo Creek Parkway, Little Falls Parkway, and Beach Drive
to vehicle traffic on weekends to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to use these facilities in
a safe and socially-distanced manner.

2. As of April 2021, Montgomery Parks reported 624,000 pedestrian and bicyclist trips
during the Open Parkways periods.

3. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montgomery County Department of
Transportation began the Shared Streets program to close select County roadways to
vehicle traffic to allow residents and businesses to engage in safe and socially-distanced
in-street activities such as walking, biking, outdoor dining, and retail activity.

4. The Shared Streets effort includes partnerships with the Bethesda Urban Partnership,
Urban Districts, Regional Services Centers, the State Highway Administration and other
entities to set up outdoor dining spaces in roadways to support curbside and carryout
dining at local restaurants facing indoor capacity restrictions due to the pandemic.

5. Outdoor dining and activity areas in roadways include the Bethesda Streetery, Wheaton
Streetery, Silver Spring Streetdine, and Newell Street Temporary Neighborhood Park
Expansion as well as spaces supported by other jurisdictions including Gibbs Street in the
City of Rockville, the Takoma Park Streetery in the City of Takoma Park, and the
Germantown Streetery at BlackRock.

6. Shared Streets included at least eight Temporary Neighborhood Greenways that
welcomed pedestrians and bicyclists while limiting vehicles to local traffic only so
residents have more space for outdoor activity and physical distancing.
(1)
Resolution of Support to Continue Open Streets

7. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Park Service closed the portion of
Beach Drive in Washington, D.C., near the Montgomery County border to vehicle traffic
to allow residents from the Montgomery County and the District to use the road for
socially-distanced recreation.

8. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided jurisdictions around the world a chance to rethink
how public spaces are best used and how they may be repurposed to better promote
community health and vibrancy.

9. The County Council has strongly supported the various aforementioned Open Streets
efforts by advocating for them, communicating them to the public, and through direct
financial aid such as Resolution 19-690 – a $1.25 million special appropriation to assist
with the purchase of equipment to winterize the Steeteries and other outdoor dining areas.

10. The return of vehicles to Open Streets would eliminate the ability for residents to use the
spaces for walking, biking, and supporting local businesses.
Action
The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland approves the following
resolution:
The Council supports the continuation of Open Streets – including but not limited to Open
Parkways, Shared Streets, Streeteries, Temporary Neighborhood Greenways, and the Beach
Drive closure in Washington, D.C. – and will support efforts by County and non-County
agencies or organizations to enhance these programs as appropriate.

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