WABA events & advocacy in Montgomery County: An April update

Happy Spring! It’s the best time of the year for cycling, don’t you agree? 

One destination: WABA’s first Montgomery County Bike Advocates Meetup of the year, taking place Wednesday, April 17, 5 pm to 7 pm at Hakuna Matata Grill in Wheaton. If the weather’s good, we’ll be outside. Just amble over from the Wheaton Metro station or ride the Amherst Avenue Bikeway route or find your way over some other way; come by at any time. Appetizers will be on WABA; buy your own beverages. Click here to let us know you’ll (maybe) be joining us. 

We’ll have a few speakers starting at 6 pm although this won’t be a long or formal program. We’re expecting Councilmember Natali Fani-González, Senator Jeff Waldstreicher, and Delegate Jared Solomon. 

Another option: check out WABA’s Bloom Ride & Spring Picnic, taking place May 4 with routes starting and finishing at Franklin Park in downtown DC. 

Join us for Montgomery County Budget Advocacy

On the advocacy front, we’d welcome your joining fellow bicycling and safe-streets advocates for meetings with members of the Montgomery County Council, to discuss the county’s Fiscal Year 2025 (starting July 1, 2024) operating and capital budgets, including the six-year FY25-FY31 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). We are planning to set up meetings to take place in late April and early May, focusing on members of the Transportation and Environment Committee. If you’d like to take part – or if you’d like to just register your interest in future advocacy campaigns – please respond via this form.

The County Executive’s proposed CIP retains funding for important projects like the Fenton Street Cycletrack and the Amherst Avenue Bikeway, yet failed to add monies for additional segments of WABA’s Equitable Investment in Montgomery’s Bike Network Proposal. The Executive’s capital budget proposal also cuts more than $24m from Montgomery Parks’ budget which would delete funds for necessary improvements and upkeep of trails.

WABA proposes funding for additional MCDOT design and engineering staff to oversee larger numbers of projects to support safe walking and biking in the county, as well as more funds to implement elements of the county’s Vision Zero program.

And we are asking the county to create and fund an e-bike purchase rebate/voucher program, heavily targeted to low- and moderate-income residents, to encourage uptake of the greenest form of motorized personal transportation out there. We’d like Montgomery County to create a program similar to Washington DC’s, enacted last year.

Now, forward to the past…

A Recap of 2024 Advocacy to Date

Out to activate the Old Georgetown Road bike lanes, April 13, 2024
WABA and friends headed out to walk and bike the Old Georgetown Road bike lanes on April 13, 2024

Activating the Old Georgetown Road Bike Lanes

Just this last weekend, WABA – joined by Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets and the Action Committee for Transit – organized a biking and walking event to celebrate the Old Georgetown Road bike lanes, with over 50 people joining to ride on the bike lanes.  In addition, State Delegate Sarah Wolek, County Councilmember Kate Stewart and Maryland State Highway Administration Chief Safety Officer Joe Moges addressed the crowd.  The aim was to continue to show our neighbors and elected officials why these lanes are essential to protect against pressure to remove them.  In the 15 months since the lanes were installed, there have been NO pedestrian or bike injuries. Bottom line – these bike lanes have been a tremendous success and are doing just what our local policymakers intended: save lives, prevent injuries, and minimally impact travel time for those in vehicles.

This walk/ride won’t be a one-off. Contact WABA Montgomery County Organizer Peter Gray at peter@waba.org if you’d like to get involved in next steps to activate the Old Georgetown Road bike lanes.

At the Bike Maryland Symposium in Annapolis, February 15, 2024.
At the Bike Maryland Symposium in Annapolis, February 15, 2024

2024 Maryland State Legislation: Wins and Misses

The 2024 state legislative session ended on April 8 with the usual mad scramble to get legislation passed by both chambers, by the House of Delegates and the Senate. WABA, working with other Bike Maryland member groups, put a lot of effort into bicycling and safe roadways legislation. We had a number of wins although  other bills we promoted didn’t make it to the finish line.

First, good news (given the circumstances): the Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Memorial Act, HB 337, was enacted. (HB stands for House Bill, originating in the House of Delegates.) This legislation toughens penalties for drivers convicted of hitting a bicyclist in a bike lane, with up to two months incarceration, aligning penalties with those for hitting a pedestrian. The bill memorializes Sarah Langenkamp, who was crushed by a truck while cycling in a River Road, Bethesda bike lane in August 2022. Our thanks to Del. Sara Love and Sen. Ariana Kelly (soon to be executive director of the Maryland Commission for Women!) for sponsoring this legislation.

Another win was enactment of a bill written by Del. Julie Palakovich Carr and introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeff Waldstreicher, SB [Senate Bill] 345, requiring a Maryland Dept. of Transportation Vision Zero Coordinator to collaborate with state agencies and local authorities and hold quarterly public meetings, aimed at accelerating progress toward eliminating deaths and serious injuries on roadways.

And we’re thrilled that the Better Bus Service Act was enacted to allow bus-lane enforcement cameras. Note that bicyclists are allowed to use dedicated bus lanes, although WABA recommends against biking in a bus lane when the speed limit is above 25 MPH. Thanks to Baltimore Del. Robbyn Lewis for introducing this bill, which Sen. Kelly introduced in the Senate as SB 943.

Finally, let’s recognize Del. Marc Korman’s leadership as chair of the House’s Environment and Transportation Committee. Del. Korman was instrumental in advancing measures within the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2024, enacted as SB 362, that shore up the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. Additional revenue sources that state will tap include a fee on electric vehicles (whose drivers of course don’t pay gasoline taxes), higher registration fees on heavy vehicles, and a fee on Uber and Lyft rides. We’re grateful that the legislators supported an extra $150 million for WMATA to stave off rail and bus-service cuts.

Unfortunately other, significant bicycling and road-safety bills did not advance. 

A Montgomery County Delegation bill, HB 612, was passed by the House, but it never got a Senate committee vote. HB 612 would have eliminated  the requirement for an engineering and traffic investigation before reducing a speed limit below 25 MPH in Montgomery County . The House passed two other bills we backed that didn’t get a Senate committee vote: HB 111, allowing bicyclists to use sidewalks as the default statewide, and HB 511, Bicycle Safety Yield, requiring bicyclists to yield but not necessarily stop at a stop sign.

Promoting E-Bike Purchase Support

We really regret that another bill we backed didn’t advance, Del. Robbyn Lewis’s HB 156, establishing a Maryland Electric Bicycle Rebate and Voucher Program. The modest, $180,000 price tag was too high given the multi-billion dollar state transportation-funding shortfall.

E-bikes boost mobility, are far greener than EVs (which still represent cars and trucks on the road), and are more affordable than any type of car. So  in parallel with our state-bill advocacy, we have been pushing Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties to establish local programs. However neither county included funding in its proposed FY25 budget, so we have been lobbying county council members (see above), who have the power to add items to their county’s budget, and at the same time exploring whether federal and other funding sources can be tapped to pay for a program.

Let’s see whether we can convince the councils to support e-bike purchase assistance, heavily low-income targeted.

Peter Gray testifies for WABA in support of Montgomery County's Freedom to Leave Act
Peter Gray testifies for WABA in support of Montgomery County’s Freedom to Leave Act

Safer Streets for ALL Drivers: Banning Consent Searches

WABA testified in support of the Freedom to Leave Act at a County Council public hearing on February 27. This bill, introduced by Councilmember Will Jawando, aims to reduce disparities in traffic enforcement by prohibiting consent searches of a motor vehicle or person by a police officer and to improve data analysis for traffic stops by requiring the collection of additional data and annual reporting of traffic stop data. WABA has been proud to follow the lead of Young People for Progress (YPP), which “creates political power among youth and young adults in Montgomery County, MD in order to create a more just and equitable society,” in our work on this bill. 


It’s a given that advocacy success is rooted in collaboration. This update has mentioned Young People for Progress and three other allies, Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets, the Action Committee for Transit, and Bike Maryland. In addition, in the last couple of months and related to our Montgomery County and Maryland work, WABA has taken part in meetings and explored collaborations with:

  • The Maryland Dept. of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, around a next edition of the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan
  • The State Highway Administration
  • The Purple Line Corridor Coalition, particularly regarding safe access to stations
  • WMATA, concerning last-mile transit connections
  • Montgomery Planning, a periodic check-in
  • The Transform Maryland Transportation Coalition
  • The Montgomery County Better Buses Coalition and as part of the coalition, the Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation (MCDOT)

Looking ahead, in the next few weeks you’ll find us at:

These meetings and events focus on road safety and on transit. Our aim here is to bring bicyclists’ perspectives to a broad set of road-safety and mobility forums, in keeping with a key element of WABA’s mission: “We envision a just and sustainable transportation system where walking, biking, and transit are the best ways to get around.” We’re glad you’ve joined us along the way.

Stay in Touch!

Visit WABA’s action center, blog archive, and events pages to learn more about current actions and events throughout the region. Finally, if you’re not already a WABA member, PLEASE JOIN. We need your support to amplify cycling community voices and elevate safe-roads advocacy and mobility for all.