Pop-up protected bike lane coming to Bethesda on Friday

Pop-up bike lane in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy of Bike Winnipeg.

Downtown Bethesda is getting a special surprise on Bike to Work Day!

To support the thousands of people biking to work through Bethesda this Friday, Montgomery County is creating a pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Avenue. Early Friday morning, crews will set up cones and signage to transform parking and travel lanes into eight blocks of blissfully, low-stress bikeway for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you are coming from North Bethesda on the Trolley Trail or Silver Spring on the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, this pop-up protected bike lane is for you. It will start at the traffic circle at Cheltenham Drive, going west to cross Wisconsin Avenue and then south on Woodmont Avenue to the Bethesda pitstop near the Capital Crescent Trail. It will be open from 6am to 8pm. Come experience it with us!

For Bike to Work Day, Bethesda will get its own pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Ave. Image courtesy of MCDOT.

Help make the most of this awesome day!

  1. Ride the lane – biking in Bethesda has never felt like this. Don’t miss it.
  2. Take photos and share them with us!
  3. Get businesses on board – help us show that protected bike lanes are great for business. The lane is open until 8pm, so stop, shop, and share your excitement about the lane.
  4. Register for Bike to Work Day at waba.org/biketoworkday and say hi to WABA at the pitstop!

Read more about Friday’s pop-up protected bike lane in the Montgomery County press release.

PS: Did you know that a permanent protected bike lane and more are coming to Bethesda? Learn more and show your support at waba.org/bethesda.

Bethesda needs a complete, protected bicycle network ASAP

The abrupt 5+ year closure of the Georgetown Branch Trail made the long-standing challenges of getting to and through Bethesda by bicycle an urgent safety problem. With only a handful of disconnected, unprotected bike lanes, Bethesda’s streets are too stressful and hazardous for most people to bike on, and are certainly no substitute for the Georgetown Branch Trail. Bethesda needs a complete, protected bicycle network—ASAP.

Sign the Petition

Build a core network

A safe and low-stress bicycle network circles around and through the heart of Bethesda geting kids to school, commuters to work, and shoppers to stores. New protected bike lanes and low-stress bikeways connect the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail into downtown Bethesda and create safe crossings of Wisconsin Ave and Old Georgetown Road.

Existing network in Green. Proposed core network in Red.

  • Woodmont Ave – a 2-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave at Leland St to Norfolk Ave, is the pivotal backbone of the network. It will connect the Capital Crescent Trail to the Bethesda Trolley Trail via Norfolk Ave and the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail along Jones Bridge Rd and Maryland Ave. via Cheltenham Dr.
  • Montgomery Ln / Ave – a 2-way protected bike lane will connect Woodmont Ave to Pearl St. and East West Highway, creating a safe crossing of Wisconsin Ave and a new bicycle link to Bethesda / Chevy Chase High School and the many stores and offices on Montgomery Ave.
  • Pearl St / Maryland Ave Bikeway – bike lanes and traffic calming will create a low-stress neighborhood bikeway from Montgomery Ave to the Jones Bridge Rd.
  • Norfolk Ave / Cheltenham Dr. Bikeway – bike lanes and traffic-calmed neighborhood streets from Woodmont to Pearl St. will create a new safe crossing of Wisconsin Ave and a northern link to the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail.
  • Capital Crescent Trail Surface Route – a 2-way protected bike lane crossing Wisconsin Ave. from Woodmont Ave to Elm St via Bethesda Ave, Willow Ln and 47th St. This will reconnect East Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents south of the now-closed Georgetown Branch Trail and serve the important trail crossing while a new trail tunnel is designed and built.

How do we get this done?

Funding! Only small pieces of this envisioned network are currently funded for design and construction.

Tell the County Executive and the County Council you support funding these improvements to make safe biking possible for all types of bicyclists.

Funds are needed this spring and in July to build these essential safety improvements. Montgomery County’s budget process is already underway. The Woodmont Ave protected bike lane needs more than $1.5 million to construct and additional funds are required for improvements to Montgomery Ln, Pearl Street, Maryland Avenue and Cheltenham Drive to complete the core network.

Sign the Petition

The newly approved Bethesda Downtown Master Plan lays out a vision for a complete network of protected bike lanes and low-stress bikeways. Montgomery County should build the core elements of this bike network without delay. Bethesda families, students, and commuters cannot wait years for a safe route to work, school and other destinations through Bethesda.

Funding this vision will correct an urgent safety issue and help shape a more bikeable, walkable and livable Bethesda.

Update

Since kicking off the campaign in December, it has gained momentum! In December, Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmember Roger Berliner requested that the County Executive fund a core Bethesda bicycle network. In January, the Bethesda Bike Now Coalition’s video, highlighting the stressful riding conditions in Bethesda, went viral with over 16 thousand views. The Washington Post highlighted the issue in an article a few days later. Finally, County Executive Ike Leggett’s proposed budget includes $3 million over the next three years to design and build the proposed network!

We commend Executive Leggett for proposing funding for the network over the next few years. However, we are concerned that the proposed funding is not sufficient to complete a usable network by July of 2019. As the County Council reviews the budget, we hope that some of this funding can be moved up to Fiscal Year 19. Sign the Petition to support this final step.

Silver Spring Celebrates its First Protected Bike Lane

On Saturday, October 14, more than 70 bike advocates and neighbors gathered with county officials in Woodside Urban Park to celebrate the completion of Silver Spring’s first protected bike lanes on Spring Street and Cedar Street. After schmoozing with stakeholders and excited conversations, councilmembers Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and WABA Board Member Peter Gray spoke about the event’s significance and enjoyed many well-deserved rounds of applause. After cutting the ribbon on the new lanes, we all embarked on the maiden voyage, joyfully riding the length of the protected bike lanes and returning along Wayne Ave and Second Ave, the future home of Silver Spring’s 2nd protected bike lane.

Events like this capture advocacy at its finest. Government officials experienced firsthand the passion of their constituents and the delight, and new connections, such projects generate.  About 55 bicyclists safely and comfortably traveled along a main Silver Spring corridor, showcasing the potential for smart road design to promote safe and active transportation for all age groups. Along the way, curious residents inquired about the event, and a few stray cyclists joined the ride!  Thank you to all who made this event possible.  We look forward to working with you as we harness this positive energy and momentum for a more bikeable, walkable and livable Silver Spring!

This post comes from Zachary Weinstein, a leading member of WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County and a resident of Silver Spring. To get involved, sign our petition to support our campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle for a more bikeable Silver Spring, come to our next meeting (4th Monday of the month, 7pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center) and join the Bike Silver Spring Facebook group.

Celebrate Silver Spring’s First Protected Bike Lane on Oct 14!

Downtown Silver Spring is taking a huge step towards being a bikeable, walkable and livable community! Over the past few months, crews have been piecing together downtown Silver Spring’s very first protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar St. Over the past three weeks, the project has been taking shape, with new lane striping, green paint, and flex-posts appearing every day along the 0.8 mile corridor. Well, It’s just about complete, and it’s time to celebrate.

On October 14, we are throwing a party to celebrate the first of many protected bike lanes around and through the downtown, promising low-stress, convenient, and safe trips by bike. Join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, neighbors, community advocates, County Councilmembers and staff to celebrate and take the inaugural ride on these new bike lanes! Starting at 10am come over to Woodside Urban Park for a festive celebration with activities for the whole family. Then, help us thank county leaders and staff who are leading the charge for more bikeable and walkable communities as we cut the ribbon on the first major piece of the Silver Spring Circle.

Once the ribbon is cut, join us on a community bike ride down Spring St to see and feel what low-stress urban biking is all about. The route will be a kid-friendly loop around downtown with an easy stop at the farmers market before returning to the start. Activities include kid-friendly bike ride, design your own bike lane, playground, face painter, Bike Master Plan team, Montgomery County Commuter Services, and tons of conversation about fun and low-stress biking in Silver Spring and beyond.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this first big step for the Silver Spring Circle!

I’ll Be There!

Big Turnout for the Spring Street Project Walk

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.

Discussing details of intersection design at Spring St. and Covesville Rd

Discussing details of intersection design at Spring St. and Covesville Rd

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.

Looking at plans

We talked through the details of each intersection, comparing detailed plans to what is on the ground now.

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.

Floating bus stops on proposed Spring St protected bike lanes

Floating bus stops, bike boxes, and 2 stage turn boxes planned for Spring St protected bike lanes

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.  

Councilmember Hans Riemer talks about the importance of low stress places to bike.

Councilmember Hans Riemer talks about the importance of low stress places to bike.

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.

Silver Spring to Get a Protected Bike Lane in 2016

Over the past 20 years, Montgomery County has made big investments and large strides for improving bike access across the county and between its more urban areas. Off-street trails, like the Capital Crescent Trail, Sligo Creek Trail, and Millennium Trail have made long distance trips possible by bike. But, until recently, bike access and street safety have remained a low priority on roads. That is changing, with ambitious plans for low-stress networks throughout the county. In Silver Spring, bike friendly changes are coming quickly.

Proposed protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar Streets in Silver Spring

Proposed protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar Streets in Silver Spring

At a community workshop last week attended by over 70 community members, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) unveiled plans for protected bike lanes on Spring Street and Cedar Street in downtown Silver Spring. Stretching almost one mile from Second Avenue to Wayne Avenue, the lanes will sit against the curb, separated from car traffic by a painted buffer, vertical posts and parked cars. Following the short Woodglen protected bike lane installed in White Flint in 2014, this project will be the second on street bike facility in the county that puts cyclist safety and comfort first.

Proven Design Elements

The plans, available here, include many of the key elements of a truly protected bike lane. Last year, at WABA’s request, MCDOT endorsed the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide signaling a willingness to consider new approaches to bikeway design. The plans presented reflect this new thinking.

Proposed intersection for the Spring Street protected bike lane include bike boxes, 2 stage turn markers and colored conflict areas

Intersection elements for the Spring Street protected bike lane include bike boxes, 2 stage turn markers and colored conflict areas. Image from MCDOT

Except for a few pinch points, the Spring and Cedar Street bike lanes will be fully separated from car traffic by vertical posts or parked cars. Most intersections will feature bike boxes, which place bicyclists in a visible position ahead of car traffic at red lights. Many intersections will also feature two stage turn boxes, which mark an easy alternative to left turns at signalized intersections. Furthermore, colored conflict areas will remind drivers to watch for bicyclists at driveways and intersections where bicyclists and drivers share the same space or cross paths.

Floating bus stops on proposed Spring St protected bike lanes

Floating bus stops on proposed Spring St protected bike lanes. Image from MCDOT

To eliminate the precarious situation of sharing lanes between buses and bikes, floating bus stops will give bus riders a safe place to enter and exit the bus without conflicts with bicyclists. Taken together, these designs will make for a low-stress riding environment with few conflicts with motor vehicles or pedestrians.

Design challenges

Even great projects require compromises. While MCDOT has designed a fantastic bike facility, Spring Street intersects state highways at Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road. The State Highway Administration (SHA), which controls these roads and intersections, has different roadway standards, which prohibit many of the bike specific treatments. Colored conflict zones, two stage turn boxes, and bike boxes are unlikely at these intersections.

Mixing zone and pocket bike lane

Mixing zone and pocket bike lane. Image from MCDOT

Most concerning, current plans show a transition from a protected lane to an unprotected pocket bike lane at these two intersections. This transition is required due to a high volume of right turning auto traffic. By floating the bike lane to the left of the right turn only lane, the design avoids a serious conflict between right turning drivers and bicyclists continuing straight. The downside is a mixing zone, similar to those found on L Street in downtown DC, which effectively removes separation at  exactly the point where bicyclists are most vulnerable.

The preferable solution to this challenge is taking turns. Many cities, including the District, separate high volume turning and through traffic near protected bike lanes with separate traffic signal phases for each. This approach avoids the tricky mixing zone and maintains protection up to the intersection. However, SHA’s guidelines do not allow for this particular solution at this time. Even with these compromises, the project remains a giant leap forward for bike safety and access in Silver Spring. MCDOT staff deserve a great deal of thanks for committing to such a strong plan.

Timeline and Next Steps

This project is moving forward at a fast clip. Comment will be accepted through February 19th and staff hope to move to construction by spring. The facility should open by this summer.

This project, and many Silver Spring focused changes to come, is made possible by the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area program, a collaborative effort between MCDOT and SHA to improve bike and pedestrian safety and access in priority areas. Silver Spring is one of 17 BPPAs in the county, but is one of the first to see such concentrated improvements. County staff made it clear that this is but one of many bike improvements in the pipeline for Silver Spring.

View project documents, including the full presentation here. Submit comments to Matt Johnston (Matt.Johnson@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov) by February 19th. WABA action committee for Montgomery County is working to bring more of these changes to Silver Spring. Click here to learn more about the committee and get involved.

(Some) Met Branch Trail construction this year in Silver Spring

Metropolitan Branch Trail Silver Spring

The Met Branch Trail along the Red Line near Montgomery College in Silver Spring. Photo credit: Dan Reed

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will begin construction on the first section of the Met Branch Trail (MBT) in downtown Silver Spring this year. County Councilmembers asked MCDOT to build any sections of trail ready to go during the March budget work session.

New details emerged about the MBT phasing at the Transportation and Environment Committee (T&E) budget work session on April 20th  (you can watch the full discussion online here at 38:10). The construction of two buildings near Progress Place interfere with the trail construction between the Silver Spring Transit Center and B&O Train Station. Rather than wait until 2018/19 when the new buildings are complete to begin design and construction, MCDOT is willing to construct sections of trail now. Where possible, the MBT will be wider than the 10 foot minimum trail width and the trail will be fully lit at night.

The Met Branch Trail, when finished, will be a 8 mile trail from downtown Silver Spring to Union Station. Roughly 50 percent of the total trail is complete. About 1 mile of the MBT is in Montgomery County. The City of Takoma Park section is complete. The remaining unbuilt trail section is about .6 miles long. See our MBT priority page for further breakdown on trail progress and recent information.

See the full breakdown of trail sections and their anticipated construction schedule below.

The full MBT in Silver Spring will not be complete until 2019/2020. But, the community will see some progress this year and every year until it’s complete. Thank you to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. We appreciate their willingness, responsiveness and flexibility to adjust the construction schedule. Trail projects are hard and take time to build. Showing some progress, even small pieces, are important to keep the public engaged and excited. Thank you to Councilmembers Berliner, Hucker and Floreen who serve on the T&E Committee for their continued committment of growing bicycling in Montgomery County.

WABA’s advocacy is supported by your membership dollars. Join or donate to WABA today.

Montgomery Co. DOT Endorses NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide

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Montgomery County’s first protected bike lane on Woodglen Drive in White Flint. Photo Credit: Dan Reed

Good news! The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has endorsed the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. This guide, produced by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), gives transportation planners and engineers access to state-of-the-practice bikeway designs. It provides innovative tools for growing bicycling such as protected and buffered bike lanes, bike boxes, contraflow bike lanes and other types of infrastructure.

Last fall, MCDOT installed the first protected bike lane in the County on Woodglen Drive in White Flint. The 0.3 mile long protected bike lane extends the Bethesda Trolley Trail from Edson Lane to Nicholson Lane. MCDOT is currently planning protected bike lanes on Woodmont Ave in Bethesda and Nebel Street in White Flint. We anticipate more protected bike lanes coming to the County following the department’s endorsement of the NACTO guide.

From the MCDOT Acting Director Al Roshdieh’s letter:

MCDOT is committed to providing a multi-modal transportation network that incorporates state-of-the-practice bicycle facilities, and endorses the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide as one of several documents to utilize in the design and implementation of new bicycle facilities County-wide. Thank you for your support and we look forward to partnering with you in our efforts to create a more bicycle-friendly Montgomery County.

WABA sent a letter in August requesting MDCOT’s adoption or endorsement of the bikeway guide. MCDOT is now in good company as the transportation department in the District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria also endorse the NACTO Guide. You can download the MCDOT letter endorsing the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. Thank you to Acting Director Al Roshdieh for responding to our request.

Bradley Boulevard Meeting Notes

Wednesday night’s Bradley Boulevard Public Meeting was fundamentally about the potential configurations of 4 items in a redesign of Bradley Boulevard from Wilson to Goldsboro:

1. an 8′ shared-use trail;

2. a northern sidewalk; and

3. a southern sidewalk.

Roughly a year after the last presentation of design alternatives (numbered 1, 2, and 3) to the public, MCDOT presented 3 revisions (4a, 4b, and 4c).  These revisions were various combinations and/or moderations of the original 3 alternatives.  All variations  include bikeable shoulders and a vegetated bioswale to meet the County’s environmentally sensitive design requirements, as well as stormwater quality and quantity regulations.

  • Alternative 4a:

Includes an 8′ shared-use path, bikeable shoulders on both sides of the roadway, and a sidewalk on both sides of the roadway.  The 12′ path from the original alternatives has been reduced to 8′.  And this is the only alternative containing any shared-use path.

  • Alternative 4b:

Includes sidewalk on both sides of the roadway with bikeable shoulders, but no shared-use path.

  • Alternative 4c:

Includes sidewalk on the north side of the boulevard only, with a bikeable shoulder on both sides.

After a brief introduction of the project team by project team leader Pat Shepherd, the community took a few moments to ask general questions before breaking up into smaller groups to review the individual cross-sections.  The primary concerns expressed during this period related motor vehicle volume and whether this project would increase traffic along the roadway.  Concerns were expressed about the roadway being widened.

Ms. Shepherd clarified that the roadway was not being widened, but that a left turn lane is proposed to be added at Wilson Lane, where the level of service is currently “F” and there are frequently rear-end collisions with drivers trying to turn left, as well as  increased maintenance needs and significant dangers to cyclists from motorists passing left-turning vehicles on the right shoulder.

Given the existing high volume of bicycle traffic along this stretch of Bradley Boulevard, as well as the potential that exists to link this neighborhood to the CCT, the Bethesda Trolley Trail, the C&O Towpath, and the retail and job opportunities in Bethesda, WABA supports the alternative that includes the shared-use path.  While all options are likely to improve conditions for cyclists, shared-use paths are more accessible for many.

Thus, WABA supports alternative 4a.  It provides the greatest improvement for bicyclists and pedestrians, and does the most to contribute to a truly multi-modal, walkable, bikeable neighborhood.

All are encouraged to send comments to Aruna Miller and Pat Shepherd.  (And they do count and consider them.  They noted that they received 140 comments after the last public meeting.)

You can send an email supporting Alternative 4a, which includes the shared-use path, HERE.

Further information about the project can be found HERE under “Bradley Boulevard Bikeway.”