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Forest Glen Road is the most inclusive street in Four Corners, based on several criteria.
Forest Glen Road is basically a local road connecting neighborhoods between Forest Glen and Four Corners. It is a popular bike route because it provides direct access to the Sligo Creek Trail, as well as the Forest Glen Metro Station. The road is also home to several recreational facilities, such as Argyle Park, the Senior Citizen Center, Sligo Creek Park, and the former Boys and Girls Club, so it gets a good amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic that other roads around Four Corners don't get. I chose the Street View image above because it shows several things that make Forest Glen Road a nice experience for all users.
The following factors make Forest Glen Road the most complete street in Four Corners:
Sidewalks are one of the most basic things every street should have, but sidewalks are often of poor quality or completely absent. Simply having sidewalks on a road is not good enough. For street to be complete, it must have the best sidewalks possible. A good sidewalk is separated from the roadway by several feet, and it must be at least 5 feet wide. The sidewalks along Forest Glen Road are pretty good, and the ones between Dallas Avenue and Reddick Drive (section shown in the image above) are ideal.
Good sidewalks must be free from obstructions like telephone poles, signs, or debris. Having a buffer zone between the road and the sidewalk provides a place for signs and poles. The buffer zone also prevents road debris from accumulating on sidewalks. In the spring, sidewalks immediately adjacent to roads are commonly covered in gravel and sand from winter snowfalls. This can make the sidewalks dangerous and unpleasant, especially for people in wheelchairs and those pushing strollers. Having a smooth sidewalk that is separated from the road and free from obstructions makes walking much more appealing.
|An example of good sidewalk along University Boulevard in Wheaton. The buffer zone makes the sidewalk more pleasant by separating it from traffic and providing a place for utility poles and signs.|
Sharrow is a portmanteau for shared lane markings called shared use arrows. Sharrows are painted on pavement to remind drivers to share the road with cyclists (who are legally allowed to ride in the middle of the lane). Sharrows are usually a substitute for bike lanes, and they are one of simplest forms of bike infrastructure. Sharrows are not as good as bike lanes, as they do not provide cyclists with their own space on the road. However, they are better than nothing, and Forest Glen Road does have some short segments of bike lanes near Holy Cross Hospital.
|Sharrow at the intersection of Forest Glen Road and Reddick Drive.|
Crosswalks should be frequent, well placed, and well signed. Frequent crosswalks give people on foot plenty of opportunities to (legally) cross the street. I'm not a fan of the idea of "jaywalking" since I think people should be allowed to cross a street wherever and whenever they want (to an extant). But someone made a law stating that pedestrians have to cross streets and roads in marked crosswalks, and if they don't, they are totally at fault for whatever happens to them.
|A good crosswalk on Flower Avenue in Long Branch.|
Sheltered bus stops
Sheltered bus stops are an easy way of encouraging bus ridership, because they give people a pleasant place to wait for the bus. Forest Glen Road has two bus routes serving it the 19 and 8. The 8 bus runs more frequently than the 19 and it spends more time on Forest Glen Road, serving the Senior Citizens Center and Holy Cross Hospital. Because many of the riders on this route are older people, having easily accessible bus stops with covered waiting areas and seats makes their journey much easier. Bus shelters provide shade from the sun and cover from the rain, and they are simple thing that makes a big difference to transit riders.
|Sheltered bus stop in front of senior citizens center. Image from Google Street View|
Low speed limit
A low speed limit is essential if a street is to appeal to a variety of users. Forest Glen Road has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. This is an appropriate speed considering the width of the road and the land uses along it (primarily residential and recreational). If the speed limit was higher, the road would feel more hostile to those on foot or on bikes. Roads like University Boulevard and Colesville Road are hostile to pedestrians because of their crappy sidewalks and the high speeds of traffic along these routes. It is not uncommon for motorists to go 50 or 55 miles per hour on Colesville or University, which makes it downright dangerous to walk or cycle along those roads. Thankfully, Forest Glen Road has a lower speed limit, making it much more pleasant to walk or bike along.
|This is a reasonable speed limit. Photo from Google Street View|
Ideally, Colesville Road and University Boulevard would also have buffered sidewalks, bike lanes, convenient crosswalks, and lower speed limits. However, those roads are under SHA control, not country control. While the county is concerned both about residents and traffic movement, the SHA is basically only concerned about moving as many vehicles as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. Pedestrian safety and cycling facilities are an afterthought. Hopefully the SHA will adopt some of the county's practices so that University Boulevard and Colesville Road can be as accommodating as possible to all road users, just like Forest Glen Road.