On June 9, 2022, the Montgomery Parks Department issued a press release announcing a plan to reconfigure driving lanes on part of Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda to study “the operational effects of reducing the Parkway from four lanes to two.” This study is a key step towards creating a permanent, linear park on the south side of Little Falls Parkway and a slower, narrower path for car traffic between Dorset Ave and Arlington Rd (one in each direction).
In 2016, Parks temporarily reduced the number of car lanes from two to one in each direction. This was in response to the death of a cyclist who died crossing the Parkway while on the Capital Crescent Trail. This new plan could create a linear park along this stretch of Little Falls Parkway. It would create additional safe outdoor recreation space in the Bethesda area. Let’s show our support for the study and for a permanent road diet at the crossing of the CCTrail and the Parkway. Use the form below to email the Parks Department, Councilmember Friedson whose district encompasses the Parkway, and the at-large Councilmembers.
On October 17, 2016, Ned Gaylin was out for a bike ride on the Capital Crescent Trail when he approached the trail crossing of Little Falls Parkway, a four lane (two car traffic lanes in each direction) boulevard road. As Professor Gaylin, was biking through the marked crosswalk there, one lane of cars stopped. He proceeded through the intersection and was then struck and killed by a car because of the multi-lane threat that existed at that crossing. Within days, the Montgomery Parks Department reduced the number of car lanes to one in each direction, thus implementing a road diet eliminating that multi-lane threat to those walking and biking through that intersection. Since 2016 there have been no fatalities at that crossing.
Parks did hold a series of meetings since the fatal crash to explore how to remake that crossing and developed ideas that would keep the crossing safe. Almost all of those ideas retained the road diet as the most effective means of keeping the crossing safe.
After the onset of the COVID pandemic, Parks also implemented an ‘Open Parkways’ policy on Little Falls Parkway, Beach Drive and Sligo Creek Parkway, closing parts of those Park roads to cars on the weekends. While there has been broad support across the County for the weekend closures, some living near Little Falls Parkway have been vocal in their opposition to the closures. Thus, the Parks Department has decided to suspend the weekend closures on Little Falls alone, while retaining the road diet near the CCTrail. Parks simultaneously has announced the plan to study placing two lanes of car traffic (one lane in each direction as currently exists near the Trail) on one side of the Parkway median, while developing a plan for a linear park on the other side.
As advocates for safe walking and biking in Montgomery County, we should show our support for retention of the road diet on Little Falls and the creation of a linear park along Little Falls that would enhance the amount of outdoor recreation space in that area.