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Retaining on-street parking in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda

Letter to County Executive Leggett, August 2nd, 2016

The Action Committee for Transit is concerned that the elimination of on-street parking along arterial roads in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda may continue after the current Safetrack surge ends on Friday. Traffic conditions during the current surge do not indicate any need for removal of parking. We should not forego the important benefits that on-street parking provides to pedestrians, businesses, and drivers.

In urban areas like downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring, on-street parking provides a buffer between busy sidewalks and the often fast moving traffic in the travel lanes. This buffer serves to improve pedestrian comfort and safety, as it removes traffic from the curb lane while providing physical separation between the sidewalk and potential errant vehicles. Removing on-street parking along arterials would remove this safety feature, causing the sidewalk to feel less-safe, thus deterring pedestrian activity.

Removing on-street parking is also bad for business. Roads like Georgia Avenue, Colesville Road, and Wisconsin Avenue are major commercial streets in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda. Having on-street parking in front of these businesses provides an opportunity for drivers to park in front of the business they wish to patronize. For customers looking to run a quick errand, on-street parking is especially valuable, as it negates the need to search for a nearby parking lot or garage. Even if the parking spot in front of a customer’s desired destination is taken, the possibility of finding an on-street spot often dictates whether the customer visits that business or drives on to another one.

For these reasons, the Action Committee for Transit requests that on-street parking be restored without further interruption in downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda once the current Red Line SafeTrack surge is completed.


Sean Emerson

Action Committee for Transit