Montgomery County’s planning department received two national awards Wednesday for the county’s 93,000-acre agricultural preserve and a digital bicycle “stress” map designed to make biking safer and less scary.
The American Planning Association’s Planning Landmark Award, which recognizes an initiative at least 25 years old, highlighted the county’s agricultural reserve, established in 1980, for saving more than a quarter of the county as a “contiguous rural area.” The county was cited for its “transferrable development rights” program that compensates farmers for not developing their farmland. The development rights of that land can be sold to a developer who wants to build more density in other parts of the county. That approach has since been used in other states, including California and Connecticut, officials said.
Montgomery also received a transportation planning “achievement award,” akin to an honorable mention, for its online bicycle stress map that planners recently developed for 3,500 miles of county roads and trails. The map shows the public the stress levels of different cycling routes, from “low” stress (suitable for children) to “very high” (only for experienced cyclists).
Planners say the data-based map found that only 20 percent of bicycle trips could be made on a “low-stress” network. They say the county will use it to make such routes safer and less stressful, particularly between neighborhoods and nearby schools, recreation centers and transit stations.