Montgomery County wants to turn pedestrian shortcuts into actual sidewalks

When you’re out walking, do you ever stray from the sidewalk and take a shortcut through a field or on a dirt path? If so, Montgomery County wants to hear from you.

They’re looking for what are sometimes called “desire lines” or “goat paths,” informal shortcuts that pedestrians use to make quick trips to the bus stop, school, work, or wherever. The reason being, they may want to turn the paths into actual sidewalks to make things safer and more convenient.

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Councilmember Tom Hucker showed FOX 5 an example of one of the paths Wednesday evening in Silver Spring.

“In this case, you have dense townhomes all around here and people that need to get to work and get to school,” Hucker explained, “and if they take the existing path here, the road in this townhouse community to a sidewalk or the path, it might take a lot longer than if they just cut through the woods.”

The county is looking to crowdsource the info. They’ve set up a Pedestrian Shortcut Map, which people can access online to add their own shortcuts. So far, more than 150 paths have been added.

“You want to build public infrastructure based on what people need,” Hucker explained, “and a lot of it in Montgomery County of course was created decades ago, and there’s communities that grow and there’s communities that shrink over time, and the infrastructure doesn’t always keep up.”

Officials weren’t sure exactly how many of these pedestrian shortcuts there are throughout the county. This is the first time they’ve tried to systematically collect the information.