WABA’s Action Committees are working around the region pushing campaigns for better places to bike. Here is an update on the Silver Spring Circle campaign from Kate Meyer Olson, a Montgomery County advocate.
On a rare sunny Saturday, May 14th, WABA’s Montgomery County Action Committee hosted a walk-along tour of the planned Spring Street and Cedar Street protected bike lanes in downtown Silver Spring. This .8 mile segment along the north side of downtown will be the first piece of the Silver Spring Circle, a network of protected bike lanes envisioned by advocates, planners and county leaders. Matt Johnson, Project Manager with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), joined us to speak about the project planning process and detailed considerations needed to bring this vision to fruition.
The group grew to over 40 interested residents before we started walking. We saw a good cross section of Silver Spring, including many generations of residents and a spread of interests in the project. With plans in hand, the group walked the route discussing the details of each intersection as we went.
The Spring and Cedar Street protected bike lanes will run adjacent to the curb on both sides of the street, with a 1 foot buffer and plastic flexi-posts between the bike lane and car parking where the road is widest, or moving traffic where there is no parking. Each intersection will see some changes, with those at State Routes 97 (Georgia Avenue) and 29 (Colesville Road) the trickiest to design. The bike lanes will be marked at critical mixing points with green paint on the roadway to indicate where car traffic and bike traffic will encounter each other-—primarily at mixing zones where a right turn lane merges across the bike lane, as well as at several driveways where cars will cross the lanes. At some intersections bicyclists will have a “bike box” in front of the car stop line to allow people on bikes a more visible position at intersections. At some intersections, a painted “2-stage turn box” will suggest a safe place for bicyclists to queue for an easier left turn using the perpendicular street’s traffic light.
A feature being introduced to the County for the first time is the floating bus stop which, “floats” the bus pick up point away from the curb, allowing the cyclists an unimpeded route while the bus passengers will alight and board the bus from an island in the roadway.
In addition to the protected bike lanes, the route will feature additional bike parking and improved crosswalks, and incorporate new timing for many of the stop lights. There will be a slight loss of parking in the last block of the route on Cedar Street before it intersects Wayne Avenue. Due to some changes to placement of curbs, 3 small trees will be removed. MCDOT plans to begin construction very soon and to complete the resurfacing of the roadway this summer, minus one block where PEPCO has impending digging.
At the end of the walk Councilmember Hans Riemer joined us, commenting on the growing importance of safe and accessible bike networks in the county and his support for the plan in Silver Spring. The participants were favorably impressed with the vision and are looking forward to the construction beginning. As we move towards construction and a finishing date this summer, expect details about a ribbon cutting and Lane Opening Ride Along. For more information about the project, visit the MCDOT website. Learn more about the Silver Spring Circle at the campaign page. Special thanks to Matt Johnson for leading the walk and to Councilmember Riemer and his staff for their vocal support for expanding the role of bicycling in Montgomery County.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the improvements to the cycling infrastructure in downtown Silver Spring, please join us on the 4th Monday of the month when we meet at the Civic Center at 7 pm to discuss additional advocacy goals and strategize for a more bikeable, walkable Silver Spring! More info here.
Kate Meyer Olson is the Silver Spring Circle Campaign Lead, longtime Action Committee advocate and WABA member. She lives in Silver Spring.