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.
Low-Stress Bike NetworkTrails Master Plan (still in draft form), identifies how Prince George’s County intends to build and manage nearly 400 miles of new trails. The plan takes the mileage of primary trails (trails that are mostly paved, with high-quality design features, a park-like experience, and used for both recreation and transportation) from 65 to 293 miles, and secondary trails (connectors, along roads, or within neighborhoods) from 110 to nearly 400 miles. Current Status: The public comment period for the draft plan has closed, but we will provide further opportunities for engagement as the process moves forward. A united community demanding action can make this happen. Action to Take: The Prince George’s Acton Committee meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Hyattsville Municipal Building (4310 Gallatin St. Hyattsville) at 7:30 pm. Click here for more information and to sign the petition. April 2015 update, and find more information on the NPS project website. Action to Take: National Park Service is hosting a public information meeting on August 18 at the Petworth Neighborhood Library at 6:30 pm. Join us and learn more about this exciting project! quick survey and share your ideas with us. blog post to sign up for updates. discussion draft, and a set of policy alternatives, on the M-NCPPC website. Current Status: WABA supporters submitted a strong showing of public comments on the proposed rules during the comment period. Additional public meetings will likely be scheduled in the fall. Action to Take: Click here to send an email to M-NCPPC to make sure that trails stay open when people need them, that parents can haul their kids to school on them, and that no one gets ticketed for riding their bicycle at a reasonable speed. Montgomery County Council sent a letter to Maryland Governor Hogan, Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and Maryland State Highway Administrator Greg Johnson requesting immediate prioritization of trail crossing improvements. The letter calls out the current dangerous conditions and the need for immediate action. On July 29th, the delegation from Maryland’s 19th District sent a letter to Maryland State Highway Administrator Greg Johnson requesting immediate corrective action at the Matthew Henson Trail crossing of Veirs Mill Road. Action to Take: Maryland residents: write or call Governor Hogan, Transportation Secretary Rahn, and MD State Highway Administrator Johnson, as well as your state delegates and county representatives. Tell them that the status quo is not working and demand effective solutions. here. Action to take: Avoid hassle and delays by biking! here. Action to Take: The comment period for the current concept plans has closed, but another community meeting will be scheduled in September. Project updates and timelines will be posted here. here. Current Status: A recent community meeting held to explore DDOT’s 30% design plans for the project turned acrimonious. While meant to be a chance for residents and neighbors to get a detailed look at the design for the street and offer constructive feedback to improve the project, the packed library meeting rooms were instead filled with heated concerns about parking. We’ve seen this movie before. Action to Take: The DDOT employees responsible for this project are George Branyan and Ali Shakeri (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com). If you live, work, or bike around the project area, please send them an email letting them know you support this project and want to see it move forward.
Bike LawsMotor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2015 as part of the consent agenda. This vote is a huge step towards final passage of the bill, and is the result of years of organizing efforts. In spite of roadblocks, delay, and concerted opposition from AAA and the insurance lobby, we’re the closest we’ve ever been to changing the unfair doctrine of contributory negligence for vulnerable road users. Current Status: The bill has now cleared a major obstacle to passage. The Council will vote on the bill a second time in late September / early October, after which it will require a signature by Mayor Bowser, (who sent a congratulatory tweet to Councilmember Cheh after the successful first vote) and will undergo a 30 day Congressional review. Action to Take: We aren’t taking anything for granted. We will stay vigilant through the final stages of the process to ensure there are no surprises, and keep you updated along the way. Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016 (B21-335). Mayor Bowser signed the bill in late July. The legislation is the culmination of the efforts of the Bicycle Pedestrian Working Group convened by Councilmember Cheh last summer, on which our Executive Director Greg Billing served. It contains all kinds of good stuff, including open source crash data, bicycle and pedestrian priority areas, and codifying Complete Streets. Current Status: The Act will become DC law at the end of August after 30 day period of Congressional review. Hyattsville Municipal Building 4310 Gallatin St. Hyattsville, MD. Action to Take: Register for the training!
Curious about what’s going on around biking in Montgomery County?Attend the the 3rd Great MoCo Bicycle Summit on Saturday, June 18, hosted by Councilmember Hans Riemer. What: 3rd Great MoCo Bicycle Summit When: Saturday, June 18 10-12 pm Where: Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave, Rockville Register to attend (free)
SB 117 requires drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. A violation constitutes a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $50. Getting “doored” is an all too common cause of crashes between bikes and cars, often resulting in severe injury to the bicyclist. Current Status: Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of Virginia residents, advocates, and legislators, SB 117, the “dooring” bill, passed both the Virginia House and Senate. On April 1, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law.