Update: Join us on November 18 2020 at the Fenton Street Bikeway Virtual Meeting to speak up for protected bike lanes on Fenton. Details here.
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.
This project will follow the Spring Street/Cedar Street Separated Bike Lanes project (the county’s 4th protected bike lane), which is being constructed in Spring 2017. It will connect to, and extend, those lanes west – where they will connect to the future Capital Crescent Trail. On the east side, it will connect to the Silver Spring Green Trail. Because the road has different widths in different locations, the design differs from section to section. From Spring to Fenwick, there will be conventional 5′ wide bike lanes. From Fenwick to Colesville Road there will be one-way, 6′ wide separated bike lanes on each side, with a 6′ wide buffer. From Colesville Road to Georgia Avenue it will have a 2-way, 8′ wide separated bikeway on the north side of the street. This will be accomplished by moving the curb in and taking advantage of an old bus bay. The most unusual, and likely most controversial, part is the so-called “Colesville Transition,” where eastbound cyclists will turn across the avenue to the north side to join the two-way bikeway. Other intersections will be redesigned too. Designs use two-stage queue box pavement markings, colored paint, and floating bus stops. And at Spring and Second there will be a protected intersection. The final design should be done this upcoming summer, with the 3-4 month project starting in late 2017 or early 2018. A .pdf with the full current design can be found here. David Cranor is the Chair of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council and writes about bicycling in the area at The Washcycle
Submit comments to improve the design
- Door Zone Bike Lanes: plans include a block where people on bikes will have to ride in a narrow painted lane between moving traffic and high turnover parking spaces. While some bicyclists may be accustomed to standard bike lanes, they are far more stressful for inexperienced or young riders and more dangerous due to illegal parking and the high potential for getting “doored.” A network is only as good as it’s weakest link.
- Narrow Lanes: the protected lanes will also be quite narrow in some places, making it difficult to pass a slower bicyclist or just fit through with a wider format bicycle. Driving lanes should be squeezed to their minimums (10 or 11 feet) to expand the bike lanes in these areas.