Tuesday was a big step forward for people who walk and bike in Montgomery County’s urban areas! The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Bill 33-13 which redefines urban road standards and promises to make the county’s streets more inviting to bicyclists and pedestrians with slower vehicle speeds, better bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian accommodations. With a new emphasis on creating complete streets, especially in urban areas, this bill is an important step forward for the county.
The bill sets new standards that limit vehicle travel lanes to 10 feet and establish a maximum target speed of 25 mph in urban areas. Narrowing lanes and lowering speeds will help create streets that are more welcoming to all modes of travel on increasingly busy urban street. And to further accommodate vulnerable road users, new definitions and improved requirements for protected bike lanes, shared use paths, and sidewalks will ensure that road engineers are building facilities that accommodate, if not encourage, walking and biking. The bill also includes new standards that decrease turning radii at intersections, meaning lower vehicle speeds at crosswalks and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians. You can read the full text of the bill here.
In january, WABA testified (read) in support of the bill and today we applaud the council for taking these important steps for safer and more accessible streets. We thank councilmembers Berliner and Riemer for sponsoring the bill and all those who contacted their councilmembers in support. Though the road code changes are limited to county roads, this is a needed step for the region and a bold example for other jurisdictions to follow.