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Update on the Silver Spring Protected Bike Lane Network

YOU DID IT. I am very happy to report that the proposal to fund a network of protected bike lanes in downtown Silver Spring was supported unanimously at committee today, as well as planning funds for the Bowie Mill Bikeway in Olney. Thank you Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker, and Nancy Floreen for supporting transportation options for everyone and Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) for going to bat for us. I know my council office was happily buried in eloquent supportive messages from residents of Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville, Olney, Takoma Park, Burtonsville, even Boyds!

Map of Silver Spring Bike Network

Let’s make this a sign of what is to come for communities all across our great county. Biking does not have to just be for those brave enough to ride in traffic lanes, it can be an option for everyone if we build the right protective infrastructure. Lots to be happy about today. We will need to continue working to keep those funds in the capital budget as we head to a final budget vote in May, but so far so good.

Thanks to Nancy Navarro and George Leventhal as well on the Bowie Mill Bikeway planning funds, in addition to the state electeds who supported it, Eric Luedtke, Anne Kaiser, and Craig Zucker. The project was first requested by the Greater Olney Civic Assocation.

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Funding A Protected Bike Lane Network in Downtown Silver Spring

Following please see my Dear Colleague Memo regarding a protected bike lane network in Downtown Silver Spring.


MEMORANDUM

To: T&E Committee
From: Councilmember Hans Riemer
Date: March 1, 2016
Re: Funding a Protected Bike Lane Network in Downtown Silver Spring

As you prepare for your discussion on CIP transportation projects on Thursday, March 3, I would like to respectfully request that you support adding $1.5 million per year to the CIP for the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area (BiPPA), in order to continue the project’s county-wide planning while adding funding to create a full protected bike lane network in downtown Silver Spring.

The BiPPA program (CIP #501532) supports the planning, design, and construction of bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the County’s thirty BiPPA areas with immediate focus in the Silver Spring CBD, Grosvenor, Glenmont, Wheaton CBD, and Randolph/Veirs Mill.

The FY16 Council-approved budget for this program is $1 million per year, with $150,000 and $850,000 for planning and construction, respectively. The County Executive has recommended $1 million level funding over the FY17-22 CIP horizon. The FY16 funds are programmed for the Spring St. protected bike lanes and the first phase of the Silver Spring bike parking program.

In recent months I have worked closely with MNCPPC and DOT, with support from Councilmember Roger Berliner, to model a more robust protected bike lane network for Silver Spring, as well as White Flint. The latest bicycle research shows that people are more likely to bicycle in lower-stress environments that provide protection from motor vehicles and separation from pedestrians. Facilities like separated bike lanes and protected intersections are crucial to strengthening the walkable, bikeable urban areas that we want for our residents.

The full Silver Spring network would include protected bike lanes on Spring St., Wayne Ave, Fenton St., Dixon Ave, Burlington Ave, and portions of Second Ave., shared-use paths (Metropolitan Branch Trail and the Silver Spring Green Trail), and conventional bike lanes on Blair Mill Rd., Cameron St and portions of Second Ave. As a pilot project, the Network should also include at least one protected intersection. DOT estimates that building this network out by FY20 would require additional yearly funding in the BiPPA program. A budget of $2.5 million total per year will enable for build out of the Silver Spring network while beginning to implement improvements in the other priority areas (Grosvenor, Glenmont, Wheaton CBD, and Randolph/Veirs Mill).

Extensive community outreach would be required in order to fulfill the plan, to help better understand and mitigate potential impacts. For the details on the network, please see the attached timeline, funding schedule, and maps (pdf).

Let’s build a world-class protected bike lane network in downtown Silver Spring, to demonstrate our vision for a county that supports all transportation options. Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.

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Recapping this year’s MoCo Bike Summit

The Great MoCo Bike Summit was a tremendous success this year, and I want to thank each and every person who participated. We had over 100 attendees, multiple speakers, the biggest map of MoCo every created, and a plethora of great conversations.

Most importantly, we created a lot of positive momentum to make significant improvements to the County’s bicycle network. County officials, advocates, and average rider are coalescing behind the central theme of the summit: we must build bicycle infrastructure (separated/protected bike lanes, secure bicyle parking at Metro, and improving connectivity between destination points, to name a few) for those that want to bike, but don’t—because they don’t feel safe doing so. This is a fundamental change to the way that County plans for and builds bicycle facilities, and a welcome change it is!

So, what’s next? How can you help continue the momentum?

First, I encourage you to visit the Summit’s updated web page to get a full recap of the summit. We have a video, photos, an interactive GIS feedback map, and all of the presentations posted there.

Bike Summit Panel
Awesome Video Recap of Bike Summit!

Second, as we heard about at the Summit, the Planning Department will shortly be launching into the update of the County’s Bicycle Master Plan. In addition to a host of cutting-edge analytics and data tools, the ultimate success of the Plan will hinge on feedback from people like you. I encourage you participate in that process. Visit their website to stay up-to-date!

Third, Montgomery County is lucky to have a robust bicycling advocacy community. Groups like the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and Montgomery Bicycle Advocates (MoBike) serve the County very well, and I encourage you to get involved with them.

Fourth and finally, please reach out to me with any concerns, ideas, or questions you might have by emailing Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov or calling 240.777.7964. The County Council has a large role to play in overseeing the Department of Transportation and funding bicycle infrastructure projects. Together, we can make a difference.

More Resources

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Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements coming to Montgomery County

I wanted to share with you news about an initiative that I proposed and my colleagues supported in the FY15 County budget. This capital budget program, called the Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Areas (BPPAs), will help the County improve aging infrastructure to make it more appealing for walkers and bikers. This will help improve safety and promote revitalization.

Put simply, a BPPA is a defined geographical area where the enhancement of bicycle and pedestrian traffic and safety is a priority. The County has 28 BPPAs spread throughout our commercial and residential areas. However, the Council identified five priority BPPAs to start working on immediately; they are Glenmont, Grosvenor, Silver Spring CBD, Veirs Mill/Randolph, and Wheaton CBD.

The Council appropriated $375,000 for planning and design of subprojects within these five BPPAs for FY15, which began July 1, 2014. Design and construction of the subprojects will begin in FY16. In each of the remaining years, $150,000 is programmed for design and $850,000 is programmed for construction for a total of $1 million per annum.

The specific improvements may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • sidewalk, curb, and curb ramp reconstruction to meet ADA best practices,
  • bulb-outs,
  • cycle tracks,
  • streetlighting,
  • and relocation of utility poles.

I encourage you to participate in the planning process by reaching out to Ms. Sogand Seirafi at the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) who is heading up the project. You may reach her at sogand.seirafi@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-7260. Please also feel free to reach out to me and my staff at any time with any suggestions or comments you may have.

I strongly believe that walkability and bikeability must be at the center of County’s plans for infrastructure and revitalization. I look forward to working closely with you in the coming months and years to bring these important improvements to your community.