Thank the Montgomery County Council for Supporting the Equitable Investment Bike Network Proposal!

On March 9, the three members of the Montgomery County Council Transportation and Environment Committee voted unanimously to support adding $10.7m to the County Capital Improvement Program budget.  These funds will be used to plan and build protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways in four of the County’s Equity Focus Areas as proposed by WABA (see our plan here).  On March 22, the full Council took up the Committee recommendations and provisionally approved, on a 9-0 vote, to add the $10.7m to the Capital Budget.

Please thank the Council for supporting  WABA’s Equitable Investment Equitable Investment in Montgomery’s Bike Network Proposal and ask for their help keeping the $10.7m in the final Budget.

Historically, Montgomery County has focussed its spending on facilities that make walking and biking safer in communities in the more affluent parts of the County.  WABA proposed a shift to build these projects in areas of the County that have fewer transportation assets, the Equity Focus Areas (see more detail on the EFAs here).  WABA wants to make walking and biking safer in these areas where residents are less likely to have access to cars and are more reliant on walking, biking and access to transit.

Please show your support for this shift in spending on active transportation options by emailing all of the County Council members to thank them for voting to add $10.7m to the Capital Budget in the next six years to plan and construct Tier One Bicycle Master Plan projects in Wheaton, White Oak, Langley Park and Silver Spring.

Close the North Carolina Ave. Bike Network Gap

Work is finally starting to transform nearly a mile of C St. NE and North Carolina Ave from an auto speedway to a neighborhood boulevard with gold-standard protected bike lanes. Unfortunately, this plan stops one long block shy of Lincoln Park, leaving a block-long gap in Capitol Hill’s near-future, low-stress bicycle network.

The Good News: The District Department of Transportation has committed to filling this gap and drawn up preliminary options.

The Bad News: Some residents are pushing back over the choice of reducing car parking or turning this one block to one-way car traffic to make room for a low-stress bike option.

People choose to hop on a bike when it is safe, convenient, and low-stress. Even when most of the route is blissful, it is the most stressful block that turns someone away.

North Carolina Ave needs a continuous, low-stress, all ages and abilities bike connection from Lincoln Park to C St, the Fields at RFK, and the Anacostia River Trail to fill out the Capitol Hill network. Shared lanes, sharrows, or narrow painted bike lanes squeezed next to high-volume driving lanes are no substitute for a truly low-stress and safe bikeway.

See more details and the final design here.

Restore Funding for the Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel

Update: On Tuesday, March 23rd, the Montgomery County Council unanimously supported restoring funding for the new Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue in the County’s six-year Capital Improvement Program. This decision upholds the Council’s unanimous support in 2020, the Transportation & Environment Committee’s February 2021 recommendation and rejects County Executive Elrich’s proposal to delay the tunnel construction by at least two years.

A final vote on the budget will take place in late April or early May. Thanks to everyone who contacted their councilmembers. WABA will continue to track this funding through the budget reconciliation process. The discussion and vote starts around 41 minutes into this video.

Last year, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to fund construction of a new trail tunnel to carry the Capital Crescent Trail under Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda starting in late 2024. But this Spring, County Executive Elrich removed the tunnel from his budget, delaying funding to 2026 or later. Email your council member and urge them to restore funding for the trail tunnel.

With the construction of the Purple Line project, the Capital Crescent Trail is being upgraded and extended from Bethesda to the Silver Spring Metro. Without a new tunnel under Wisconsin Ave, the estimated 15,000 weekly trail users must cross Wisconsin Avenue’s (MD-255) six travel lanes and 40,000 daily cars and trucks at an improved, but still at-grade intersection. Restoring funding for the tunnel is critical not just for Bethesda, but for preserving safe access to jobs, recreation, transit and services from all the neighborhoods connected by the region’s trail network.

Urge the Council to restore funding for the tunnel now! Add some personal details to make the message reflect you and why you support a new trail tunnel.

As far back as the 1994 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan, Montgomery County has planned for both a tunnel route and a surface route for the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. After the Hogan administration made significant changes to the Purple Line which removed the trail from the Air Rights tunnel, the County Council and Planning Board reaffirmed the vision for both tunnel and surface alignments by adding a new tunnel project to the adopted 2017 Bethesda Downtown Master Plan and 2018 Bicycle Master Plan. Based on this vision, the Planning Board secured an agreement with Carr Properties to build a part of that tunnel under 7272 Wisconsin Avenue and the Council approved $3.8 million for the remaining tunnel design under Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street. Construction funding was expected in the Capital budget.

High quality, accessable, and continuous trails are critical to our region’s transportation and sustainability goals, Vision Zero commitments, economic competitiveness, and public well being.  Trails provide low stress access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities. Funding the tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue will deliver on a generation of planning and promises with a truly accessible trail between Silver Spring and downtown Bethesda.

Restoring funding follows the unanimous recommendation of the Council Transportation & Environment Committee last month, reaffirms the 9-0 vote by the Council in May 2020 to put funding into the Capital Budget (FY 21-26) and fulfills the promises made by County officials for over 25 years to provide a facility that will allow thousands of Trail users to safely travel to and from Bethesda.

Bikeable, Walkable Workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners

in early 2021, WABA hosted a Bikeable, Walkable Streets workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. We explored some effective options for making streets more inclusive, how DC’s Department of Transportation moves forward street safety and redesign projects, how to participate in that process some tactics to get a good idea moving.

In the second half, a panel of past and current commissioners shared their experience and tips on workshopping ideas, building consensus among residents and stakeholders, and getting safe streets projects done.

Panelists

  • Salim Adofo – Commissioner 8C07
  • Monique Diop – Commissioner 8D04
  • Randy Downs – Former Commissioner 2B05
  • Erin Palmer – Commissioner 4B02

Questions? Email garrett.hennigan@waba.org. Click here to download the slides.

Tell NPS to make the Memorial Circle improvements permanent!

In November, 2020, The National Park Service (George Washington Memorial Parkway) completed several safety improvements to Memorial Circle. The goals of the project are to reduce risks at key locations within the corridor and to reduce conflicts between trail, walkway, and roadway users—where approximately 600 crashes were recorded in the area between 2006 and 2012. The project includes several safety upgrades for trail users including:

  • Higher visibility crosswalks
  • Relocating trail crossings
  • Lane reductions
  • New signage and rapid flashing beacons 
  • Clearer lane markings
  • Repaved road surface

WABA is pleased with the changes and believes that they are effective, but we know there is still enormous room for making these trail intersections truly safe for everyone (like by installing controlled trail crossings). The National Park Service will now monitor the effectiveness of the changes before deciding to keep the improvements and make them permanent or remove them. Due to the new merge pattern, drivers are complaining that they have to slow down for people’s safety. 

We do not want these complaints to undo the changes that have been made, so we urge you to sign this petition to NPS asking to make these safety improvements permanent! 

Ask VA Legislators to pass The Bicycle Safety Act now!

With the VA General Assembly set to wrap up it’s work this session, there have been a number of bills that are making their way towards the finish line. 

WABA has been in collaboration with partners and networks on the ground to monitor and track the progress of these bills, and we want to highlight a key bill that needs your support as it nears its final vote! The Bicycle Safety Act (HB2262 / SB1263) would require drivers to fully change lanes to pass people biking, allow cyclists to ride two abreast in a lane, and permit people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs. The bill is modeled after Delaware law that has proven safety benefits!

Tell the Mayor and DC Council we need a bold DDOT Director

With the Former DDOT Director Jeff Marootian stepping down to join the Biden-Harris Administration, the Mayor now has to select and the DC Council has to confirm a new leader to tackle the pressing transportation issues ahead. 

The new DDOT Director will be entering at a time where bold and transformative leadership is necessary to ensure that we have safe and equitable infrastructure development in the District. 

Take a moment to tell the Mayor and DC Council, we need a new DDOT Director who prioritizes completing our trials network, developing a connected and protected bike lane network, and ensures safe infrastructure investments are equitably distributed throughout the District.   

Tell your legislators you support MC 4-21: Transferring automated Traffic Enforcement to the Department of Transportation

Police are not experts on street design or what makes a street safe for all of its users.  That expertise resides in the County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and therefore, the management and implementation of the County’s automated enforcement program should be located within MCDOT, not the county police department.  To resolve this problem,  the State Delegates and Senators who represent Montgomery County are considering a bill, MC 4-21, that would authorize moving the automated traffic enforcement program from the County Police Department to MCDOT.  The County Delegation will vote on this bill on or around December 17. 

Please email your state Senator and Delegates telling them you support the passage of MC 4-21.

Fill the Trail Gap on 8th St. NE

8th St. @ MBT

When finished, the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) will span more than 8 miles, connecting Silver Spring to DC’s Union Station with a low-stress, off-street walking and biking trail.  In Edgewood, the trail diverts onto 8th St. NE where trail users share the road with industrial truck traffic, chaotic school drop-offs for four separate schools, and speeding drivers. This 0.5 mile “shared street” stretch of 8th St. NE from Franklin to Monroe is a stressful gap in a trail used by up to two thousand people each day.

The District Department of Transportation has long planned to fill this gap with an off-street trail. However, as properties were redeveloped in the early 2010’s, some moved ahead without space for the trail leaving DDOT to abandon that plan. Now, our best option for a trail-like experience along 8th NE is a two-way protected bike lane for bikes and scooters and the existing sidewalk for people on foot). But progress has been sporadic. For nearly two years, DDOT’s analysis of the options has been promised “very soon.” 

Sign your name below to urge DDOT to get moving on the 8th St. NE protected bike lanes.

To: Mayor Bowser, Councilmember McDuffie & Interim DDOT Director Lott

Since at least 2013, the District Department of Transportation has planned closing the 0.5 mile Edgewood gap in the Met Branch Trail with a protected bike lane on 8th St. NE. Unlike the off-street multi-use trail that feeds it, 8th St. NE is often choked with chaotic school drop-off and truck traffic, making it unsuitable and unsafe for the hundreds of hourly trail users who have no choice but to use it. 

We the undersigned call on DDOT to complete design and build the 8th St. NE protected bike lanes to finally close this stressful gap in the Metropolitan  Branch Trail.

Daily conflicts with industrial trucks and school drop-off on 8th St NE
Map of Met Branch Trail in Edgewood. Off-street trail in green. 8th St. on-street gap in orange.
The proposed changes