Montgomery County has a new Bike Plan and it’s a big deal!

Last week, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to adopt a new Bicycle Master Plan for the County. This vote is the culmination of more than three years of intensive analysis, public engagement, and advocacy. By adopting this plan, the Council endorsed a dramatic shift in the County’s goals and approach to growing bicycling, committing MoCo to a convenient, inclusive, and low-stress bicycling future!

While its broad strokes are similar to bicycle plans from neighboring cities and counties, the new Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan is in a league of its own due to its analytical rigor, its commitment to promoting bicycling for people of all ages and skill levels, and its ambitious countywide vision. The plan aims to make bicycling a convenient, safe and popular option in every community, a strong complement to transit, and a joyful part of everyday life.

To achieve its goals, the plan is packed with network maps of new bicycle infrastructure, new bicycle-friendly policies and programs, and so much more. Here are some of the highlights. It calls for:

  • an impressive, 1,000+ mile, low-stress bicycle network of new protected bike lanes, trails, and quiet neighborhood streets, which will comfortably connect bicyclists of all ages and abilities to the places they need to go;
  • new low-stress bikeways concentrated around urban areas, transit stops, schools, libraries, and county services so that a bicycle is the first choice for short trips;
  • a network of high-capacity “Breezeways” between major destinations that allows people on bikes to cross longer distances with fewer delays, where all users – including slower moving bicyclists and pedestrians – can safely and comfortably travel together;
  • new design guidelines for high quality, safe, and accessible protected bike lanes, trails and intersections;
  • new programs and staff positions to build out the network, support people who bike and encourage more people to give it a try;
  • abundant and secure, long-term bicycle parking facilities near Metro, Purple Line, Bus Rapid Transit, and MARC stations;
  • and rigorous metrics to evaluate the county’s progress in carrying out the plan.

Data under the hood

Woven throughout the plan is a deep, research-backed understanding of what keeps people from biking. More than 50% of people are interested in biking for transportation and recreation but don’t because they are concerned about their safety. So, the plan puts a focus on creating interconnected, low-stress bicycling networks that appeal to everyone, not just the people biking today.

Top: A stress map of downtown Bethesda (low-stress in blue, higher stress in yellow, orange and red). Bottom: Recommended improvements for a low-stress downtown Bethesda (trails green, separated bikeways orange, bike lanes blue, shared streets red).

Months of painstaking analysis of bicycle level of stress showed that the majority of streets and neighborhoods in Montgomery County are already perfect for bicycling. But major roads, urban areas, and short stress points severely limit the reach of people who have no interest in the stresses of biking in car traffic. Adding protected bike lanes, trails, and other bikeways to those stressful roads unlocks new areas in the map of bikeable destinations. And with impressive analytical tools in hand, we know which changes to road design will create the biggest gains for safe, convenient, and low-stress bicycling connections.

Thanks to all who made this possible

Drafting, debating, and polishing this plan took incredible effort and dedication from county planning staff, residents and elected officials over the past three years. Hundreds of neighborhood advocates showed up to share their ideas and dreams at dozens of public meetings, workshops, rides, and hearings and submitted thousands of comments online. An advisory group of twenty volunteers stayed deeply involved at every stage through monthly meetings. The Planning Board and County Council weighed public input through months of detailed discussions.

Through it all, planning staff were persistent in defending the high standards and bold vision residents asked for.

Thank you to everyone who put their time, thoughts and effort into bringing the Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan to a star finish!

What’s next?

Adopting the plan is a momentous milestone. Now the work begins to implement its vision. Some of the plan’s recommendations can get started immediately: creating an interagency implementation task force, updating policies, and refocusing existing work. But the majority of the big changes called for will require a significant expansion in funding for planning, engineering, and construction, new staff and resources over the next twenty years. Most improvements will be made by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation though routine road resurfacing or more substantial rebuilding projects. Others will be made in partnership with State agencies or private developers.

Just as important as the funding, transforming colored lines on a map into new, great places to bike will take persistent involvement from advocates, buy-in from county staff, and leadership from county elected officials. But with every step, more places will be just a convenient bike ride away, and bicycling will slowly become a perfectly normal way to get around and an inseparable part of daily life in Montgomery County.

Learn more

You can learn see the final draft of the Bicycle Master Plan here (will be updated soon with the final revisions), review the County Council’s final changes here, and see the complete network in this interactive map.

Let’s talk about Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lanes

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

After more than three years working to fill a gap in Downtown DC’s protected bike lane network on Louisiana Ave, the project is moving forward. Better yet, preliminary plans are done and ready to share!

On Wednesday, October 24, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a community meeting and panel discussion with the District Department of Transportation to introduce this project to the public and get feedback on current plans. This is our chance to stand up as a community and say “we want this project!” Will you join us?

Yes, I’ll Be There!

Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lane Community Meeting
Wednesday, October 24
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Open House
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Community Meeting & Panel Discussion
Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Avenue SW (Room 2253
Click here to RSVP

Bringing this project to this point has not been easy. It has taken the combined will of neighborhood commissioners, councilmembers, members of Congress and hundreds of people like you. So join us on Wednesday to see the plan and keep the pressure up!

See you on Wednesday.

Show up for Biking in Bethesda on Oct 9

Big improvements are in the works for low-stress and safe bicycling in downtown Bethesda. Following public outcry from bicyclists and Georgetown Branch Trail neighbors over the trail’s closure and worsening bicycling conditions in downtown Bethesda, Montgomery County committed to fund and build a core, low-stress bicycle network.

On Tuesday, October 9, residents and advocates can finally see plans and give feedback on a slate of protected bike lanes, intersection upgrades, and trail improvements.

RSVP Here

Network map.

With only a few painted bike lanes, several multi-lane road barriers, and increasingly disruptive construction, Bethesda is a challenging place to bike, and a non-starter for parents with kids. The core bike network, pictured above, will significantly improve options for bicyclists of all abilities, correct some of the flagrant deficiencies in the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, and lay the groundwork for other improvements coming later with the completion of the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail.

The following projects will be discussed at the meeting:

Woodmont Ave. Protected Bike Lanes – a north-south two-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave. to Norfolk Ave.

Capital Crescent Surface Trail – a protected bike lane crossing of Wisconsin Ave. on Bethesda Ave. and Willow Ln. This project will rebuild the Bethesda Ave. & Woodmont Ave. intersection into a safe, intuitive, protected intersection.

Capital Crescent Trail crossing at Little Falls Parkway – Parks staff will present three designs for permanent fixes to this high-conflict trail intersection. See the original 12 alternatives here. WABA opposes any plan that restores Little Falls Parkway to four lanes because this would restore the perilous conditions that contributed to a fatality and multiple crashes. Read our letter for the full reasons.

Montgomery Ln/Ave Protected Bike Lanes -an east-west two-way protected bike lane from Woodmont Ave to Pearl St.

Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel – a new trail tunnel underneath Wisconsin Ave. to seamlessly connect the Purple Line, secure bike parking, and the trail to Silver Spring.

Pearl St. Norfolk Ave. and Cheltenham Dr – bike lanes, traffic calming, and intersection improvements.

We need you there

Continued pressure and support are what make these projects possible. Will you show up to give county staff the support they need to get these projects in the ground? We need your voice to insist on safe streets for people who walk and bike. We need your help to counter those who will be there to insist that moving cars quickly is the only priority. Together, we can reshape Bethesda into a great place for biking and walking.

I’ll Be There!

Don’t Forget Bikes on A New Columbia Pike

Getting from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City by bike is a roundabout and tricky ordeal. As part of Arlington National Cemetery’s Southern Expansion plan, that trip will become a little more direct, but not much better.

New alignment in white. Road to be demolished in yellow.

The Army is working with Arlington County to reroute and build anew, three quarters of a mile of east Columbia Pike to make room for more burial sites. Their preferred plan would create a new 4 lane road with a 10 foot wide sidewalk for biking and walking on the north side.

We know we can do better.

Speak Up

This brand new Columbia Pike will be the only bikeable connection across I-395, so it must be great for people on foot and bike. With the Washington Blvd Trail expected to open this fall, new protected bike lanes coming to Pentagon City, and the Cemetery planning a new southern pedestrian entrance, this corridor will be buzzing with activity. A 10 foot shared sidewalk will create continuous conflicts between people biking and walking.

Instead, the new Columbia Pike should include separate spaces for all modes: sidewalks for walking, curb-protected bike lanes for bicycling, and driving lanes for cars and buses. This is not too much to ask for a new road, built from scratch. We only get one shot at getting this right.

Ask for something better

For full details on the plan, visit the Southern Expansion project page.

Arlington Delivers a Bike Friendly(er) Ballston

Early last month, road crews set to work repaving a long stretch of N Quincy St. in Ballston. But, instead of putting it back exactly as they found it, they made it better. Quincy St. now sports almost a half mile of new, protected bike lanes between Glebe Rd and 9th St. N!

This is Awesome!

Check it out!

Tucked behind car parking and flex-posts, the new protected bike lanes create a low-stress bike connection to dozens of shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and the future Mosaic Park. Where bicyclists used to grapple with very close passing cars and parked cars blocking bike lanes, the new design gives everyone their own, orderly space on the road.

Before…

…and after!

This upgrade is the result of a lot of hard work by advocates and county staff. In late 2015, we launched our Bike Friendly Ballston campaign to build support for a low-stress, protected bike lane connection between the Custis Trail and Ballston’s commercial area. By spring 2016, we had earned support from more than 600 county residents, Ballston businesses, the Ballston Business Improvement District, and the Arlington County Board. Since then, county planners have been hard at work, collecting data, designing concepts, and negotiating the many tricky complications that arose along the way.

Making use of the new, protected bike lane in Ballston.

Help us show our gratitude!

The Quincy St. protected bike lanes are a big win for safe, low-stress bicycling in Arlington. And this project could not have happened without the creative solutions, persistence and dedication from transportation staff and county leaders. Will you help us thank them for their work?

Thank the Staff & Board!

This work completes the first half of our vision for a more bike friendly Ballston. Still to come is a protected bike lane connection extending another half-mile past the Central Library and Washington Lee High School to the Custis Trail. To learn more about the project and see the plans, visit the project page.

Is the WB&A Trail along MD 704 feasible? Study says YES

A critical gap in the region’s trail network is closer to completion! Prince George’s County took a big step forward on the WB&A (Washington Baltimore & Annapolis) Trail by publishing a feasibility study of a trail extension along Martin Luther King Jr. Highway (also known as MD-704) to connect the existing WB&A Trail to DC.

Rendering courtesy of Wallace Montgomery and Prince George’s County.

A 12-mile rail-trail in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties, the WB&A Trail is already one of the region’s great recreation and transportation trails. Along the tree-lined route, the trail rises over and tunnels under major highways, connecting neighborhoods, parks, schools and jobs.

But the trail is far from complete.

The trail ends miles from DC’s northeast border and remains isolated from the rest of the DC trail network. Extending the trail to DC would fill a substantial gap in the regional trail network (in fact, the trail would go all the way across Prince George’s County!), creating safe walking and biking options for the communities along the corridor. That’s one reason why the trail has been at or near the top of the Prince George’s County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian transportation funding priorities since 2011!

The WB&A Trail was converted from an old railroad. Unfortunately, planners didn’t make the entire rail corridor into a trail—some was converted into a highway. That highway is Martin Luther King Jr. Highway (MLK Highway), a straight shot from the trail’s southern terminus to the DC line.

WB&A in Green, trail extension in Red

MLK Highway was built to move cars quickly, making the corridor a hostile place for people biking and walking. Despite close proximity to neighborhoods, schools, parks and stores, sidewalks are missing on more than half of the 6.5 mile corridor. Wide intersections make safely crossing the street challenging even where crosswalks and traffic lights are present. It’s a stressful place to bike and walk, so few people do it.

MLK Highway is a 6-8 lane speedway. Building a trail alongside it would make it accessible to people outside of cars.

That’s exactly why WABA, together with Prince George’s County, Oxon Hill Bike and Trail Club, the Capital Trails Coalition and many others are working to change MLK Highway. This major highway is the only connection between dozens of communities, and we strongly believe it should be a safe place to bike and walk.

With a new multi-use trail, MLK Highway could transform from a barrier that separates communities into a safe, inviting corridor that unifies them with new options for getting around.

And the neighbors would benefit tremendously from a safe place to bike and walk along MLK Highway! The corridor has 16 parks and recreation centers, five schools, two libraries, and over 30 places of worship all within a half mile of MLK Highway.

WABA has been with this project from day one. We’ve been leading rides on the trail and on MLK Highway, meeting with elected officials along the corridor, supporting the planning department, researching the economic effects of extending the trail, and organizing trail advocates across the county.

A WABA-led ride on the WB&A! Here we are at Mile 0.

The feasibility study identified places along the corridor that have plenty of room for a multi-use trail, and other areas that are more challenging (based on physical and engineering constraints). The study gives us solid footing, and helps all partners understand what the hurdles will be as the vision for this trail and a path towards completion takes shape.

And we’ll continue to be involved, because closing this gap in the trail network is critical to WABA’s mission. A feasibility study is a significant milestone, but we’ve got lots of work to do before we’re safely riding a completed WB&A Trail.

Want to get involved in this project?

Join neighbors and advocates to build momentum and support for a new 704 trail. Sign up below!

I want to support the WB&A!




600+ speak up for Louisiana Ave protected bike lanes

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

After more than three years of plans for a Louisiana Avenue protected bike lane bouncing between DDOT, the Architect of the Capitol and other Capital grounds departments, WABA started a petition in May to reinvigorate planning for the project. The petition called on US Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, one of the many stakeholders for the Capitol grounds, to work proactively to implement this project without further delay. When we delivered the petition earlier this month, 610 people had signed on!

The Louisiana Ave protected bike lane project is a key connector for downtown DC’s low-stress, protected bicycle network. DDOT’s concepts envision a continuous protected bike lane connecting the Pennsylvania Ave lanes to First St. NE via Constitution Ave and Louisiana Ave. It would link the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the National Mall, filling a key gap in the Capital Trails Network and the East Coast Greenway. It would be a tremendous improvement for thousands of daily bike commuters, Capital staff, and visitors.

Though Louisiana Ave is a relatively short road, making changes to it is complicated due to an intricate web of overlapping ownership and interest. The Architect of the Capitol, National Park Service, Senate Sergeant at Arms, the District government, Congress and more all have a say in what happens in this space. The good news is that the key stakeholders, including the Sergeant at Arms, Architect of the Capitol, DDOT and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton are now all at the table talking through a path forward. And while there is nothing concrete to report today, we hope to share some news soon.

You can read our letter to the Sergeant at Arms here.

Closer to Completion: New Construction on the Met Branch Trail!

A bird’s eye rendering of the Met Branch Trail around the Fort Totten Metro (Source DDOT)

This Saturday at 10am, DDOT is breaking ground on the next phase of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that will connect Brookland to Fort Totten Metro station. There hasn’t been any major construction on the MBT since 2013, so this is a huge win!

After a handful of delays, in November 2017, DDOT awarded the contract to complete design and begin construction on the next phase of the popular multi-use trail. WABA’s been working on getting this trail built since the 1990s; this new construction will link the trail to the Fort Totten Metro Station, provide direct access to three new neighborhoods, and cut out the steep (and smelly) Fort Totten hill.

And it moves the Met Branch Trail one step closer to completion.

Existing MBT in green, new segment in blue, interim on street route in red (Source Google Maps)

Once complete, the MBT will connect Silver Spring to Union Station, in a mix of on and off-road trail. The trail will also be a key connection the East Coast Greenway, the largest connected walking and biking route in the nation.

Details for the groundbreaking ceremony:

Saturday, July 28th

10:00AM to 11:00AM

Between Gallatin St and 1st Pl NE (map)

Click here to see the event flyer.

Attend our August Advocate Training

For more than three years, planners at the District Department of Transportation have been studying options for an Eastern Downtown protected bike lane to link Pennsylvania Ave to Florida Ave through Shaw. Through public meetings, stakeholder consultation, exhaustive reports and detailed design work, DDOT’s leadership and staff have turned over every stone. All that’s left is the decision on where it will go.

After a long wait, it looks like we may get a decision soon.

We need to be ready. So we are hosting an advocate training next week. Join WABA’s advocacy team to untangle DC’s transportation planning process, learn the tools of an effective bike advocate, and take a deep dive into the the Eastern Downtown project.

Better Bicycling Advocate Training
Thursday, August 2nd
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Shaw Neighborhood Library
1630 7th St NW, Washington, DC (map)
Sign Up

Questions about the training? Contact Garrett Hennigan at 202-518-0524 x210 or garrett.hennigan@waba.org

One final push for MoCo’s Bike Plan

July 11 Update: The record will remain open until August 24th for comments on the Bicycle Master Plan. The Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee will review the plan and comments in depth at a worksession on September 17.

Montgomery County is one step away from adopting the most innovative and rigorous bicycle master plan in the country. But we need you to help us push it over the line!

On Tuesday, July 10, the County Council will hold the final hearing on the plan. And based on what they hear, the Council will make final changes and vote to adopt it. This plan will guide the next 25 years of bicycle planning and construction in Montgomery County, so this is a pivotal moment for biking in the county.

Take Action

With your help, we can show our Councilmembers that the Bicycle Master Plan sets the bold vision that Montgomery County needs for a bikeable, healthy, accessible, and sustainable future.

That vision is as ambitious as it is thorough. It lays out:

  • an extensive, 1,000 mile, low-stress bicycle network of new protected bike lanes, trails, and quiet neighborhood streets, which will comfortably connect bicyclists of all ages and abilities to the places they need to go;
  • a network of high-capacity “breezeways” between activity centers that allows people on bikes to travel with fewer delays, where all users – including slower moving bicyclists and pedestrians – can safely and comfortably coexist.
  • new design standards for safe and accessible protected bike lanes, trails and intersections;
  • new programs to build out the network, support people who bike and encourage more people to give it a try;
  • Abundant and secure, long-term bicycle parking facilities near Metro and MARC stations;
  • And rigorous metrics to evaluate the county’s progress in carrying out the plan.

The plan represents more than two years of tireless work analyzing data, researching best practices from around the world, and thorough community input at dozens of public workshops and stakeholder meetings. It is the gold standard of data-driven and community-involved planning and will guide Montgomery County to being a world-class community for bicycling.

Here’s how you can help:

Email the Council:

Click here to send your councilmembers an email asking that they support the plan without major changes. The plan was created through more than two years of rigorous data analysis and exhaustive community input. It is the gold standard of data-driven and community-involved planning and will guide Montgomery County to being a world-class community for bicycling.Together, we can push it over the finish line.

Take Action

Share your story at Tuesday’s Hearing:

Sending a letter is a quick way of showing your support, but showing up in person shows that you mean it. Hearings are the perfect place to tell your bicycling story. Will you join us at the hearing to speak up for this visionary plan?

Bike Master Plan Council Hearing
Tuesday, July 10 at 7:30 pm
Council Office Building (Third-floor hearing room)
100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD, 20850

Sign up to testify by July 10 at 10 am and reply to let us know that you will be there. If possible, email a written copy of your testimony in advance of the hearing by email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Read the full plan here and the proposed network here.