Show MCDOT Your Support for Shared Streets

Early in September, WABA, Action Committee for Transit, Coalition For Smarter Growth, Forest Estates Community Association, Montgomery County Pedestrian Bicycle Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, and Sierra Club in Montgomery County all sent a letter to Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin. The letter urges MCDOT to designate more low-speed, low-traffic streets for walking and biking on county roads by expanding its Shared Streets program to more neighborhoods.

Like Washington, DC and many other major cities, Montgomery County has modified some streets into temporary “neighborhood greenways” which welcome walking and biking while limiting vehicles to local traffic only during the public health emergency. Temporary neighborhood greenways have been created on Grove St in downtown Silver Spring, Holdridge Ave in Glenmont, and Windham Ln in Wheaton to provide more space for physical distancing, outdoor activity and getting around. While not perfect, we believe these are a useful and rapidly implementable tool for improving transportation and recreation options. You can learn more about them and see a map on MCDOT’s Shared Streets website.

Combined with the existing bicycle and trail network and weekend closures of parkways, these temporary neighborhood greenways help safely connect more people with more places. We hope that MCDOT will examine our suggestions closely and implement the proposed Shared Streets segments all over the County to help people get to work, connect to trails, do errands, and stay active.

We propose about 13 miles (map) of county roads as candidates for temporary neighborhood greenways. They are:

  1. College View Drive from Huggins to Norris (Wheaton – Parallel to Veirs Mill Road) (.7 mi)
  2. Windham Ln from Georgia Ave to Douglas to McComas Ave to St. Paul Ave (Wheaton to Kensington) (1.2 mi)
  3. Grandview Ave from Blue Ridge to Randolph (Wheaton to Glenmont) (1.0 mi)
  4. Woodland Drive from Spring Street to Highland Drive, to Crosby to Sligo Creek Trail (Silver Spring to Montgomery Hills) (1.1 mi)
  5. Ellsworth Drive from Cedar to Bennington to Sligo Creek Trail (DTSS to Sligo Creek) (.9 mi)
  6. Osage Street from Carroll Avenue to Tahona Drive to 12th Avenue to New
  7. Hampshire Avenue (Takoma Park) (.5 mi)
  8. Sudbury Road from Plymouth Street to E. Franklin Ave (Long Branch) (.6 mi) and Domer Avenue from Flower Ave to Barron Street (.3 mi)
  9. West Virginia Avenue from Lynbrook Drive to Wisconsin Avenue (East Bethesda) (.4 mi) and Pearl Street/Maryland Avenue from Sleaford to Jones Bridge (.7 mi) and Cheltenham Drive from Maryland Ave to Wisconsin Ave (.3 mi)
  10. Brandermill Drive from Middlebrook Road to Oxbridge Drive (Germantown) (.8 mi)
  11. Spartan Road from MD-97 to Old Baltimore Road (Olney) (1.2 mi)
  12. Amherst Ave from Dennis Avenue to Arcola Avenue (Wheaton) (1.4 mi)
  13. Lewis Avenue from Halpine Road to First St. (Rockville Pike) (1.3 mi)
  14. Kara Lane from E Randolph Road to Autumn Drive, Autumn Drive from Kara Lane to Eldrid Drive, Eldrid Drive from Autumn Drive to New Hampshire Avenue (Colesville) (1.0 mi)

If you like our proposals and want to see more Shared Streets across the county, email MCDOT.SharedStreets@montgomerycountymd.gov, Director Conklin (christopher.conklin@montgomerycountymd.gov) and the County Council (County.Council@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov) to show your support.

You can read the full letter here.

SHA Commits to Road Diet on Old Georgetown Road

In July 2019, a bicyclist and a pedestrian died in crashes in Montgomery County. Jacob Cassell was biking on the sidewalk on Old Georgetown Road on his way to the YMCA and fell into the road while trying to avoid an obstacle on the sidewalk. Unable to stop in time, a driver fatally struck him in the road. Jennifer DeMauro was walking on the Bethesda Trolley Trail and was hit and killed by a driver who failed to stop at the uncontrolled crosswalk of the Trolley Trail and Tuckerman Lane. Both deaths could have been prevented.

In response WABA, Action Committee for Transit and Potomac Peddlers, and over 100 community members, friends, and neighbors came together for a memorial and rally on August 17. The group squeezed onto narrow sidewalks and spilled into yards and driveways to share memories and talk through the heartache. Some State and County officials attended. Hundreds signed a petition and sent emails calling for concrete action to prevent future deaths and serious injuries on these corridors. Though it will never be enough, we are glad to report that both agencies responded and are making needed changes.

Changes to Old Georgetown Road

The State Highway Administration, which controls all State Highways like Old Georgetown Road (MDA-187), held a community walk-through and did a traffic study. In February 2020, MDOT announced its decision to put Old Georgetown Road on a road diet between Johnson Ave. and I-495. After planned repaving this spring, SHA will narrow the car travel lanes, remove one lane in each direction and add a “dedicated bike lane with a 5 foot buffer” between the bike lane and car traffic on MD-187. This change will help reduce speeding and give walkers a substantial buffer from fast traffic. And while far from low-stress, the dedicated, buffered bike lanes will offer more confident bicyclists a far safer option for biking on Old Georgetown Road. Read the full press release here.

Old Georgetown Road Current
Old Georgetown Road with Road Diet

A New Crossing at Tuckerman

At the end of 2019, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation placed a pedestrian activated HAWK signal at the intersection of Tuckerman Lane and the Trolley Trail. People walking and biking on the trail may now stop traffic with the push of a button to safely cross Tuckerman Lane.

Both of these changes will make the corridors much safer for people getting around by biking and walking. These improvements would not have happened without advocates showing up and calling on State and County elected officials and agencies to step up.

We commend MCDOT and SHA for taking concrete steps in the wake of tragedy and in the case of SHA stepping far outside its historical comfort zone. But, these agencies need to set the bar far higher and step beyond reactionary safety improvements. Both Montgomery County and the State of Maryland are years into a commitment to completely eliminate traffic fatalities on county and state roads. Before July, there was ample evidence that Tuckerman Ln and Old Georgetown Road were unsafe. Yet despite crashes, and speeding data, and community pleas, it took tragedy to get a response. That’s a glaring failure.

We are grateful for all the community partners for their hard work and commitment to making the County’s roads safe and accessible for everyone. There is much more to do in order to reach our goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries from crashes.

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!

Pop-up protected bike lane coming to Bethesda on Friday

Pop-up bike lane in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy of Bike Winnipeg.

Downtown Bethesda is getting a special surprise on Bike to Work Day! To support the thousands of people biking to work through Bethesda this Friday, Montgomery County is creating a pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Avenue. Early Friday morning, crews will set up cones and signage to transform parking and travel lanes into eight blocks of blissfully, low-stress bikeway for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are coming from North Bethesda on the Trolley Trail or Silver Spring on the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, this pop-up protected bike lane is for you. It will start at the traffic circle at Cheltenham Drive, going west to cross Wisconsin Avenue and then south on Woodmont Avenue to the Bethesda pitstop near the Capital Crescent Trail. It will be open from 6am to 8pm. Come experience it with us!

For Bike to Work Day, Bethesda will get its own pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Ave. Image courtesy of MCDOT.

Help make the most of this awesome day!
  1. Ride the lane – biking in Bethesda has never felt like this. Don’t miss it.
  2. Take photos and share them with us!
  3. Get businesses on board – help us show that protected bike lanes are great for business. The lane is open until 8pm, so stop, shop, and share your excitement about the lane.
  4. Register for Bike to Work Day at waba.org/biketoworkday and say hi to WABA at the pitstop!
Read more about Friday’s pop-up protected bike lane in the Montgomery County press release. PS: Did you know that a permanent protected bike lane and more are coming to Bethesda? Learn more and show your support at waba.org/bethesda.

Bethesda needs a complete, protected bicycle network ASAP

The abrupt 5+ year closure of the Georgetown Branch Trail made the long-standing challenges of getting to and through Bethesda by bicycle an urgent safety problem. With only a handful of disconnected, unprotected bike lanes, Bethesda’s streets are too stressful and hazardous for most people to bike on, and are certainly no substitute for the Georgetown Branch Trail. Bethesda needs a complete, protected bicycle network—ASAP.

Sign the Petition

Build a core network

A safe and low-stress bicycle network circles around and through the heart of Bethesda geting kids to school, commuters to work, and shoppers to stores. New protected bike lanes and low-stress bikeways connect the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail into downtown Bethesda and create safe crossings of Wisconsin Ave and Old Georgetown Road.

Existing network in Green. Proposed core network in Red.

  • Woodmont Ave – a 2-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave at Leland St to Norfolk Ave, is the pivotal backbone of the network. It will connect the Capital Crescent Trail to the Bethesda Trolley Trail via Norfolk Ave and the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail along Jones Bridge Rd and Maryland Ave. via Cheltenham Dr.
  • Montgomery Ln / Ave – a 2-way protected bike lane will connect Woodmont Ave to Pearl St. and East West Highway, creating a safe crossing of Wisconsin Ave and a new bicycle link to Bethesda / Chevy Chase High School and the many stores and offices on Montgomery Ave.
  • Pearl St / Maryland Ave Bikeway – bike lanes and traffic calming will create a low-stress neighborhood bikeway from Montgomery Ave to the Jones Bridge Rd.
  • Norfolk Ave / Cheltenham Dr. Bikeway – bike lanes and traffic-calmed neighborhood streets from Woodmont to Pearl St. will create a new safe crossing of Wisconsin Ave and a northern link to the Interim Georgetown Branch Trail.
  • Capital Crescent Trail Surface Route – a 2-way protected bike lane crossing Wisconsin Ave. from Woodmont Ave to Elm St via Bethesda Ave, Willow Ln and 47th St. This will reconnect East Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents south of the now-closed Georgetown Branch Trail and serve the important trail crossing while a new trail tunnel is designed and built.

How do we get this done?

Funding! Only small pieces of this envisioned network are currently funded for design and construction. Tell the County Executive and the County Council you support funding these improvements to make safe biking possible for all types of bicyclists. Funds are needed this spring and in July to build these essential safety improvements. Montgomery County’s budget process is already underway. The Woodmont Ave protected bike lane needs more than $1.5 million to construct and additional funds are required for improvements to Montgomery Ln, Pearl Street, Maryland Avenue and Cheltenham Drive to complete the core network.

Sign the Petition

The newly approved Bethesda Downtown Master Plan lays out a vision for a complete network of protected bike lanes and low-stress bikeways. Montgomery County should build the core elements of this bike network without delay. Bethesda families, students, and commuters cannot wait years for a safe route to work, school and other destinations through Bethesda. Funding this vision will correct an urgent safety issue and help shape a more bikeable, walkable and livable Bethesda.

Update

Since kicking off the campaign in December, it has gained momentum! In December, Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmember Roger Berliner requested that the County Executive fund a core Bethesda bicycle network. In January, the Bethesda Bike Now Coalition’s video, highlighting the stressful riding conditions in Bethesda, went viral with over 16 thousand views. The Washington Post highlighted the issue in an article a few days later. Finally, County Executive Ike Leggett’s proposed budget includes $3 million over the next three years to design and build the proposed network! We commend Executive Leggett for proposing funding for the network over the next few years. However, we are concerned that the proposed funding is not sufficient to complete a usable network by July of 2019. As the County Council reviews the budget, we hope that some of this funding can be moved up to Fiscal Year 19. Sign the Petition to support this final step.

Silver Spring Celebrates its First Protected Bike Lane

On Saturday, October 14, more than 70 bike advocates and neighbors gathered with county officials in Woodside Urban Park to celebrate the completion of Silver Spring’s first protected bike lanes on Spring Street and Cedar Street. After schmoozing with stakeholders and excited conversations, councilmembers Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and WABA Board Member Peter Gray spoke about the event’s significance and enjoyed many well-deserved rounds of applause. After cutting the ribbon on the new lanes, we all embarked on the maiden voyage, joyfully riding the length of the protected bike lanes and returning along Wayne Ave and Second Ave, the future home of Silver Spring’s 2nd protected bike lane. Events like this capture advocacy at its finest. Government officials experienced firsthand the passion of their constituents and the delight, and new connections, such projects generate.  About 55 bicyclists safely and comfortably traveled along a main Silver Spring corridor, showcasing the potential for smart road design to promote safe and active transportation for all age groups. Along the way, curious residents inquired about the event, and a few stray cyclists joined the ride!  Thank you to all who made this event possible.  We look forward to working with you as we harness this positive energy and momentum for a more bikeable, walkable and livable Silver Spring! This post comes from Zachary Weinstein, a leading member of WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County and a resident of Silver Spring. To get involved, sign our petition to support our campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle for a more bikeable Silver Spring, come to our next meeting (4th Monday of the month, 7pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center) and join the Bike Silver Spring Facebook group.

Celebrate Silver Spring’s First Protected Bike Lane on Oct 14!

Downtown Silver Spring is taking a huge step towards being a bikeable, walkable and livable community! Over the past few months, crews have been piecing together downtown Silver Spring’s very first protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar St. Over the past three weeks, the project has been taking shape, with new lane striping, green paint, and flex-posts appearing every day along the 0.8 mile corridor. Well, It’s just about complete, and it’s time to celebrate. On October 14, we are throwing a party to celebrate the first of many protected bike lanes around and through the downtown, promising low-stress, convenient, and safe trips by bike. Join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, neighbors, community advocates, County Councilmembers and staff to celebrate and take the inaugural ride on these new bike lanes! Starting at 10am come over to Woodside Urban Park for a festive celebration with activities for the whole family. Then, help us thank county leaders and staff who are leading the charge for more bikeable and walkable communities as we cut the ribbon on the first major piece of the Silver Spring Circle. Once the ribbon is cut, join us on a community bike ride down Spring St to see and feel what low-stress urban biking is all about. The route will be a kid-friendly loop around downtown with an easy stop at the farmers market before returning to the start. Activities include kid-friendly bike ride, design your own bike lane, playground, face painter, Bike Master Plan team, Montgomery County Commuter Services, and tons of conversation about fun and low-stress biking in Silver Spring and beyond. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this first big step for the Silver Spring Circle!

I’ll Be There!