John the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, WABA’s Montgomery County Action Committee and your Silver Spring neighbors for a community meeting about three efforts to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety along Fenton Street and in Silver Spring. MCDOT staff will share details and collect feedback on:
Fenton Street protected bike lane study
Grove Street neighborhood greenway
Fenton and Burlington Ave intersection safety improvements
Since 2017, protected bike lanes have sprouted around downtown Silver Spring, making it easier and safer than ever to get around by bike. The Silver Spring Circle, a network of protected bike lanes around and through the core, is nearly complete, offering low-stress bicycle connections to many of the places people want to go. The last key piece of this bicycle network is a new protected bike lane on Fenton Street.
This transformation was possible thanks to the broad, enthusiastic support from people who live, work, and travel through Silver Spring. Please attend the meeting, add your support, and help make sure these projects make Fenton Street a safe and inviting place to bike and walk with thriving local businesses.
Getting There: East Silver Spring Elementary School is just a few blocks from Fenton Street and easily accessible by bike, Capital Bikeshare and multiple bus lines.
Good things come to those who work really hard for many years with thousands of people contributing along the way, right? My work as a community organizer at WABA means that I bridge the gap between you, who wants a better place to bike and live, and our regional decision makers. And because of you, we have a lot of progress to celebrate in Montgomery County.
Last year, we celebrated the adoption of the most ambitious and comprehensive bike master plan in the country. That means leaders in Montgomery County took three+ years of our emails and phone calls and meetings and input to heart — the transportation department is literally rearranging itself to be friendlier to biking and walking.
That wouldn’t have happened without your past investment, which is changing how our communities are built, street by street.
This year, we get to celebrate a major expansion of our bicycle network, including the Mid-Atlantic’s first protected intersection, right in downtown Silver Spring. Whether you’re biking, walking, scooting, or driving, the intersection is safe, intuitive, and predictable.
Here’s why I’m jazzed about it:
It’s setting a national standard in how to safely mix road users.
There’s a permanent bike counter, so every time you roll past you can see how many people came through before you, that day and year.
There’s a low-stress connection to the Metro, a giant bus terminal, and (soon!) the Purple Line.
It gives me the chance to use words like “gold standard” and “visionary,” which, to be honest, doesn’t happen all that often.
It’s part of a network of protected bike lanes, making it actually useful.
And above all, it’s the first of many. Your financial support today means that we can push the County to keep it coming next year in Bethesda, White Flint, Wheaton, Takoma/Langley.
Do you want more protected bike lanes on your route or calmer streets in your neighborhood or commute? Do you want to see faster progress on safer streets and protected bike lanes around DC? Us too!
Come over to the WABA office on December 17 for our Ward 1 and 2 meetup and strategy session. Get involved in WABA’s 20×20 campaign to support 20 new miles of connected, protected, and equitable bike lanes in DC. We will talk strategy, fun tactics, and identify next steps for solidifying support.
Note: for the first hour we will work through strategy and next steps for the Eastern Downtown protected bike lane on 9th St. NW.
Come meet community advocates, neighbors, and that person you only know on Twitter, roll up your sleeves, and get started! We will have food starting at 6pm and begin at 6:30pm.
Do you want more protected bike lanes on your route or calmer streets in your neighborhood? Do you want to see faster progress on safer streets around DC? Of course you do!
Across Ward 5 are streets just screaming for traffic calming, safer crossings, and low-stress, protected bike lanes, especially in Trinidad, Brentwood, and Edgewood. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and help make them happen?
Last month, as part of our 20×20 campaign, we announced a new advocate training series to help you get to work making bicycling better in your neighborhood and in the city. The Ward 2 and 8 trainings were a hit. Now it’s Ward 5’s turn!
On September 24, join WABA for an advocate training to introduce you to meaningful opportunities to help the movement as an individual or as part of a group. Learn the proven strategies for making streets safe! You will meet neighbors and community advocates eager for future collaboration and take a dive into WABA’s 20×20 campaign to build 20 new miles of connected, protected, and equitable bike lanes in DC by the end of 2020. No experience is necessary!
Winning Better Streets in Ward 5
Tuesday, September 24
6:30PM – 8:30PM
Trinidad Recreation Center
1310 Childress St NE
This training is tailored to Ward 5’s unique opportunities and challenges, though the content will be applicable to other places. Additional trainings in Ward 4, 6, 7 will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.
No matter your background or your schedule, there are lots of ways you can have an impact! We hope you can come spend an evening with us and get to work!
Do you want more protected bike lanes on your route or calmer streets in your neighborhood? Do you want to see faster progress on safer streets around DC? Of course you do!
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves?
We are excited to announce a new advocate training series to help you get to work making bicycling better in your neighborhood and in the city, whether you have 5 minutes or three hours to spend.
Each training will introduce the meaningful opportunities to help the movement as an individual or as part of a group and highlight some of the proven strategies for making streets safer. You will meet neighbors and community advocates for future collaboration and take a dive into WABA’s 20×20 campaign to support 20 new miles of connected, protected, and equitable bike lanes in DC by the end of 2020. No experience is necessary!
Winning Better Streets in Ward 2 Tuesday, August 6 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM West End Neighborhood Library 2301 L St NW Sign Up
Winning Better Streets in Ward 8 Thursday, August 22 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Anacostia Neighborhood Library 1800 Good Hope Rd SE Sign Up
Each training will be tailored to the Ward’s unique opportunities and challenges, though the content will be applicable to other places. We encourage you to sign up for the training in your home ward or the ward of greatest interest. Find your ward here. Additional trainings in Ward 5 & 7 (September) and Ward 4 & 6 (October) will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.
No matter your background or your schedule, there are lots of ways you can have an impact! We hope you can come to a training.
Last week, Arlington’s County Board passed a resolution adopting Vision Zero in Arlington County. Their vote officially sets the county on a path to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Arlington’s roads through the coordinated effort of many county agencies. Arlington joins Alexandria, DC, and Montgomery County as the fourth jurisdiction to embrace Vision Zero in the Washington area.
Fundamental to this commitment, the Board recognized that far too many people are killed and injured while traveling from one place to another. In recent years, Arlington has experienced as few as one and as many as six traffic fatalities, already making it one of the safest jurisdictions in the region.
But even one death is an unacceptable loss to the community. And rather than accept that loss as an inevitable cost of getting around, Vision Zero puts harm reduction front and center. Every fatality is preventable, and we should not accept even one.
This commitment is a bold and momentous first step for a safe and more livable Arlington. But now starts the hard work. It is up to county staff to create a plan to actually achieve the goal and by when. Over the next few months, county staff will get to work collecting data, analysing problems, learning from other Vision Zero communities, and asking for input as they seek to understand Arlington’s unique traffic safety challenges and develop a five-year action plan.
The plan will identify a range of actions including changes to the way streets are designed. Community engagement will be a critical element of shaping the plan as will addressing the inequitable spread of traffic violence and safe transportation options in Arlington’s communities.
We want to thank the Board for their leadership, county staff for the hard work and following through on promises made during the bike plan update, and all the community advocates who have tirelessly insisted over the last four years that Arlington must be a leader in transportation safety.
Read the full resolution yourself here. Review the presentation slides here. And watch the full presentation and County Board discussion here starting at 1:05.
Last month, the Montgomery County Planning Board made a hasty and very bad decision on the permanent design for the Capital Crescent Trail’s crossing of Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda. While perhaps made with good intentions, this decision will create unacceptable daily safety risks for the thousands of people who use the trail. The board has started a new term and has a new member.
In the letter below, we call on the board to reconsider its decision and to put its park users and people first. Use the form below to sign the letter.
Members of the Montgomery County Planning Board,
On June 13, the Planning Board voted 4-1 to reject the analysis and recommendation of Montgomery Parks staff to implement Alternative A including retention of the road diet already in place, and placement of a speed table forcing cars to slow at the crossing. We are deeply concerned by the Planning Board’s recent decision to not only reject Alternative A as recommended by Parks but to also disregard all other carefully proposed alternatives. The decision to eliminate the road diet put in place after a cyclist died in 2016 runs directly counter to Montgomery County’s core Vision Zero principles, ignores all objective data regarding this intersection, and will endanger vulnerable trail users on the most popular trail in the region. The Planning Board should reconsider this decision, retain the road diet and endorse the Alternative A approach that has the Trail cross at-grade with Little Falls Parkway.
Montgomery County’s Vision Zero commitment is grounded in just a few core principles.
Traffic fatalities are preventable.
Human life takes priority over moving traffic quickly and all other goals of a road system.
Human error is inevitable, so the transportation system should be designed to anticipate mistakes and reduce their consequences.
People are inherently vulnerable and speed is a fundamental predictor of crash survival.
While straightforward in theory, designing intersections and roads that follow these principles often requires different tools and different priorities than have been traditionally used. Relying on old auto-oriented values will not help the county eliminate all traffic fatalities.
The board’s chosen intersection design contradicts every one of these (Vision Zero) principles. Restoring Little Falls Parkway to four lanes prioritizes moving cars quickly over the safety of people on the trail. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially at off-peak times when the road is empty. And doubling the crossing distance increases a person’s exposure to traffic. If everyone follows the rules precisely, the intersection may work. But everyone makes mistakes.
Unfortunately, diverting the trail to the traffic signal and widening the road makes everyone wait much longer. More waiting will bring more cut-through traffic on Hillandale and encourage an increase in frustration, bad choices, and dangerous behavior. Frustrated drivers may run the light or turn right on red. Trail users may cross the Parkway against the light. When someone makes a mistake or a bad choice, it will be more likely to end in a crash and a severe injury or death under the Board’s chosen design.
Montgomery County and Montgomery Planning have committed to Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in just over 10 years. If we are to achieve this goal, we must be consistent throughout the County. The plan Parks recommended for this intersection is consistent with Vision Zero and putting a road diet here has been proven safe and effective with minimal impact on cars. The decision you made on June 13 is just the opposite, makes human life and safety the lowest of priorities, and will set us back in achieving our goals of protecting Montgomery County residents.
We implore you to reconsider this decision and choose a path forward that puts your park users and their safety, first.
DDOT’s second project meeting for the Connecticut Avenue NW Streetscape and Deckover Project turned out to be much more contentious than most expected. Though DDOT presented concepts for protected bike lanes on Connecticut Ave at the previous project meeting, staff revealed that the proposed street design would not include bicycle improvements. Protected bike lanes, they said, could be added at a later time.
This revelation came as a shock because there was enthusiasm at the last public meeting for the protected bike lane concepts. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 2B and 1C passed resolutions in support of protected bike lanes in this corridor and this project. And most critically, DDOT’s 20th Street protected bike lane project, which will be under construction next year, relies on a Connecticut Ave protected bike lane to safely connect to the bicycle corridors on Q St, R St, and Columbia Rd. In the brief Q&A, the majority of comments were from community members frustrated and baffled by the missing bicycle infrastructure.
DDOT project manager Ali Agahi agreed that the team would take a second look at the protected bike lanes. And the following day, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian announced by tweet that bike lanes would added into this project.
Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring has almost everything it needs to be the Silver Spring’s main street. It is lined by cafes, shops, entertainment and community spaces kept bustling by the tens of thousands of people who live and work nearby. But step off the curb into the street and the bustle turns to chaos. Aggressive driving, unsafe crossings and a car-first road design make biking too stressful for most and walking, especially with kids, harder than it should be.
It’s time to make Fenton Street work for everyone. Protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and traffic calming can help make Fenton the community main street it should be. Sign our petition to ask our county’s leaders to get started planning protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements on Fenton Street!
In 2016, WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County kicked off a campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle. We envisioned a network of protected bike lanes around and through Silver Spring’s downtown core to connect people with the places they want to go. Three years later. that network is taking shape. Large pieces are complete and even more are under construction and in design. Together, they form a low-stress bicycle loop around Silver Spring’s busiest attractions. But the last piece of that network — a protected bike lane on Fenton St from Cameron to King which would get people to those busy places — is still just a concept.
Biking is a great way to get around downtown Silver Spring, but most people will not consider it unless it feels safe and convenient. With protected bike lanes and traffic calming on Fenton Street, people of all ages could comfortably bike to Veterans Plaza, the Library, and Montgomery College. Nearby residents would gain a new option for visiting local businesses and restaurants. Walkable, bikeable streets, where everyone feels comfortable, will help attract new residents to our community, patrons to our businesses, and locals to our events. A protected bike lane on Fenton Street would bridge a substantial gap in the Silver Spring bicycle network, linking Spring Street to Cameron to Wayne to the Metropolitan Branch and Capital Crescent Trails.
Join us urging Montgomery County to move ahead on continuous, direct, protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and traffic calming on Fenton Street. Sign our petition today!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why protected bike lanes?
Busy streets work best when people driving, walking, and biking have their own space. Protected bike lanes give people on bikes a space free of the stresses of traffic. Pedestrians can walk freely without competing for sidewalk space. And drivers have fewer interactions with people on bikes sharing the lane. Studies show that protected bike lanes reduce both the frequency and severity of crashes.
Why Fenton Street?
A protected lane on Fenton St is the only solution that provides bicyclists of all abilities with a safe and convenient way to go from Cameron Street on the north end of the Central Business District to the Metropolitan Branch Trail near Montgomery College on the south end of the CBD. Fenton St. is well-used by confident bicyclists today specifically because it connects dozens of businesses, housing, and civic destinations. Yet, without a protected bike lane, it remains too stressful for most people to bike. Aside from the planned Metropolitan Branch Trail, which deliberately avoids commercial areas, there is no continuous route the length of the CBD, particularly on the Eastern side of the Georgia Ave.
How does this help pedestrians?
By narrowing the crossing distance, protected bike lanes can make it easier to cross a street on foot. They also slow down the speed of traffic and provide a buffer between moving vehicles and the sidewalk, making more pleasant places to walk.
Why not use the existing Grove St. bike route?
The existing bike route along Woodbury Dr and Grove St is a wonderful, low-stress neighborhood bike route which is slated for some minor improvements soon. However, it is not a reasonable substitute for a protected bike lane on Fenton St. The route requires multiple turns, frequent stops, a short hill, and serves neighborhood, rather than commercial destinations. It is important to have options in a bicycle network and at least one of them should be direct.