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Update on the White Flint Separated Bikeway Network

About a year ago, following on some great conversations at the Second Great MoCo Bike Summit, I asked the Planning Department to design a network of protected bike lanes in White Flint and one in Silver Spring. Thanks to strong support from Councilmember Berliner and the rest of the Council, the great work of DOT and the engagement of the advocacy community, a segment of that network in White Flint is now operational on Nebel Street. This week, I joined the County Executive, the Department of Transportation (MCDOT), and bicycle advocates to officially open the Nebel St. protected bike lane in White Flint.

With the leadership of the County Executive and my colleagues on the County Council as well as the steadfast support of the bicycle advocacy community, we are starting to make this vision a reality. Let’s keep our foot on the (bike) pedal.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Nebel St. Bike Lane

Alongside the Woodglen protected bike lane constructed in 2014—the first of its kind in a suburban county, nationwide—the Nebel St. protected bike lane will form the core of a robust network planned for White Flint. The County has near-future plans for protected bike lanes on Marinelli Rd. and Hoya/Towne St., conventional and protected bike lanes on portions of Old Georgetown Rd., and shared use paths on Executive Blvd. and Main St. Protected bike lanes are also contemplated on Nicholson Ln. and Edson Ln in the mid-term future.

When completed, the White Flint network will knit together the activity centers and residential areas with low-stress, safe connections. Please see the map below to get a rough sense of what the entire network will look like.

Current Status of White Flint Separated Bike Lane Network

Map of White Flint Separated Bike Lane Network

That these lanes will be protected, meaning there is a physical barrier between the bike lane and motorists, is incredibly important. The latest research tells us that there are many people who would like to ride their bike to work, to shop, or to exercise, but they are too fearful to do so. This sizeable group of riders, often called “interested, but concerned riders,” will ride their bike for many trips if provided a safe and efficient bike network. 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.

Just as importantly, the protected bike lane network goes a long way in fulfilling the vision of a more bikeable, walkable, and transit-oriented community as outlined in the master plan. These improvements contribute to a Pike District with more economic activity, a cleaner environment, and a better sense of community. Transforming the Pike District is no doubt an enormous undertaking, but these improvements demonstrate the County’s resolve in making it happen.

Fortunately, the progress does not stop in White Flint. The County is concurrently planning and building a similar network in Silver Spring. The Spring St. separated bike lane will be under construction as early as this fall or as late as early next Spring. There is much, much more to come.

Making biking safer for everyone and increasing ridership has been a strong focus of mine at the County Council. That starts with building networks of protected bike lanes in White Flint, Silver Spring, Bethesda, and throughout the County.

More resources

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Riding into spring and the 2016 MoCo Bike Summit

Let’s ride!

We are gearing up for the Third Annual Great MoCo Bike Summit. Join us to assess the County’s progress on bicycle issues, get an early glimpse of future projects, learn how to advocate for change, and of course, network with fellow transportation enthusiasts.

We put together a short video previewing this year’s summit. Have a look!

We have a great list of presenters, including Greg Billing from WABA, Al Roshdieh of MCDOT, Dave Anspacher from Park and Planning, and others.

As is in the past, we will also be going on a (family-friendly) group bike ride before the summit.

Here are the details. Please RSVP, and mark your calendars.

Third Annual Great MoCo Bicycle Summit
June 18, 2016, 10am-Noon
Council Office Building, 3rd Floor Hearing Room
100 Maryland Ave
Rockville, MD 20815
RSVP Here »»

With your help, previous summits have galvanized support for investments in next-generation bicycle infrastructure. You are making a real difference. Let’s keep it up.

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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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Update on our bicycle safety efforts

According to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), Montgomery County is finally catching up – and in some ways surpassing – the District and Northern Virginia when it comes to next generation bicycle planning and infrastructure.

The evidence abounds. The County constructed its first protected bike lane on Woodglen Ave (White Flint) in 2014 and is on the verge of constructing another one on Spring St. (Silver Spring) this summer. Thanks to the efforts of the Greater Olney Civic Association, Councilmember Navarro and myself, the County is strongly considering a separated bike lane on Bowie Mill Rd. in the near future.

Meanwhile, the County’s planning department is diligently working on an update to the County’s Bicycle Master Plan that will incorporate a data-driven approach with the latest in industry best practices. Early work for the Bicycle Master Plan has produced separated bike lane network plans for White Flint, the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, and Silver Spring (in progress).

Woodglen Ave Protected Bike Lane
Woodglen Drive Protected Bike Lane image from Montgomery Planning

The progress is due, in large part, to a fundamental shift in thinking about bicycling in the County. After decades of largely leaving bicyclists to their own devices, the County has begun to intentionally reorient its planning and policy in favor of bicycle safety. Research shows that people are more likely to bicycle in lower-stress environments that provide protection from motor vehicles and separation from pedestrians. We should design biking infrastructure for the people who want to bike, but do not because they do not feel safe doing so—by providing safe, low-stress connections between the County’s activity centers, transit hubs, and neighborhoods. If we can reach this group of people, the use of biking as a mode of transportation will climb considerably.

This shift in policy did not happen by accident, but rather is a result of a concerted effort by bicycle advocates, planners, engineers, and County officials. Events like the First and Second Great MoCo Bicycle Summits I hosted brought together the bicycling community around the common goal of better, safer bicycle infrastructure. Indeed, the momentum created by the second summit led directly to the White Flint and Silver Spring separated bike lane networks that Planning released this fall.

While many positive things are already in motion, we must keep our foot on the pedal (or our bike in high gear). Below are a few ways you can help us keep moving forward:

  1. Get involved with the Bicycle Master Plan. You can share your insights by attending meetings and/or commenting on an interactive cycle concerns map. Also be sure to sign up for email updates from the team.
  2. Help us secure more funding for bicycle safety infrastructure. The County’s capital budget process is just around the corner, and there are number of bicycle projects in the budget, including the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Areas (BiPPA), that we need to fully fund. You can write to the County Executive (ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov) and the County Council (county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov) to let them know you support safe bicycle infrastructure in the County.
  3. Plan on attending the Third Annual Great MoCo Bicycle Summit, which will be held early this Summer (exact date tbd). As always, we will have a group bike ride, refreshments, top-notch presentations, and most importantly, a great gathering of bicycle enthusiasts.