Inclusion | Opportunity | Innovation

Montgomery Council unanimously approves Bicycle Master Plan

Plan recommends 1,000 miles of trails, paths and lanes; upgrades to infrastructure; and analytics-based policy and construction

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 28, 2018—The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved the Bicycle Master Plan on Tuesday, November 27. The plan, which recommends a network of more than 1,000 miles of trails, paths and protected bike lanes, has the goals of making the County a world-class bicycling community; promoting access to a comfortable, safe and connected bicycle network; and making bicycling a viable transportation option that improves the County’s quality of life.

The plan also aims to facilitate the creation of supportive infrastructure for bicycling transit, including expanded bicycle parking at transit and commercial centers. It includes state-of-the-art analytical tools for designing safe, convenient bikeways throughout the County, and promotes the long-term implementation of bicycle-friendly policies and planning.

“When fully built out, the network envisioned by the plan will make biking a real option for cyclists of all ages and experiences in their trips for work, shopping, and recreation,” said Council President Hans Riemer. “Advance work on this network is already happening with protected bicycle lane networks in Silver Spring and White Flint and soon coming to Bethesda. In addition to completing these networks, we need to lower speeds on neighborhood greenway streets, address unsafe trail crossings across the County, and bring the State Highway Administration to the table to make improvements on State highways. The plan shows us the way to a world-class bicycling community. Now we need to roll up our sleeves and get it built.”

The Council and the Montgomery Planning Board brought together stakeholders including residents of every district in the County, bicycling and transit advocates and members of the business community to provide input and feedback as the plan was developed over several years. The plan aligns closely with Vision Zero, an initiative adopted by the Council in 2016 which aims to eliminate pedestrian and traffic fatalities and severe injuries on County roadways by 2030.

“This visionary and innovative plan recommends a network of protected bike lanes – lanes where people can bike and ride in a manner that is protected from cars – as well as low-stress routes throughout the County, in our urban centers as well as connecting major activity centers,” continued Council President Riemer. “As such, the plan supports the County’s mobility, environmental sustainability, and Vision Zero goals. It will have a long-lasting and deep impact on the County’s infrastructure as it will guide budget decisions in the decades to come.

“I’m especially grateful to Casey Anderson, the Montgomery Planning Board Chair; David Anspacher, planner and project manager for this plan; and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation for all the hard work they did in engaging with the community, assessing the possibilities and bringing together a viable plan. I’d also like to thank outgoing Councilmember Roger Berliner for supporting this and many other initiatives to make the County more bike friendly. The Council is really proud of this plan and what it means for our County’s future.”

You can learn more about the plan and view the digital map of the proposed network.

People Want and Need To Walk. Let’s Make It Safe.

The last several months have been very busy as the Council navigates complex issues surrounding pedestrian safety in our neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, we have had an increase of pedestrian crashes. For example, on Georgia Avenue, there have been three pedestrians deaths and a major accident where a driver hit and injured four high school students who were waiting for their school bus to arrive. I recently wrote about these issues and what we can do to address our state highway challenges.

To bring the State Highway Administration (SHA) and the County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) together to implement solutions, the Council recently wrote Governor Larry Hogan.

SHA administrator Greg Slater responded quickly and met with us. Together, we were able to outline several steps that we could take to address pedestrian collisions, including reducing speed limits, reducing the width of travel lanes to 10 feet and installing flashing beacons in dimly lit intersections. SHA also plans to improve the crosswalks at several intersections along Georgia Avenue, including the intersection with Heathfield Road and the intersection with May Street, which are both in Aspen Hill.

Government is taking overdue action in part because our residents are stepping up their advocacy. For example, a new coalition of civic associations, businesses and individuals called No More Dead Pedestrians has formed to advocate for continued implementation of Vision Zero principles, targeting state highways in Wheaton, Glenmont and Aspen Hill. Bethesda Bike Now is advocating for safe bike/ped infrastructure in Bethesda. The Coalition to Fix 198 is calling on SHA to fix much needed improvements in the Burtonsville area. The Dale Drive Safety Coalition is advocating for safe measures along a frequently used cut through road. And the Friends of Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills are advocating for a Georgia Ave makeover with an emphasis on bike, pedestrian safety and smart growth in the area. Some of the leaders from these groups are also involved with the County’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, Traffic Safety Advisory Committee.

With your help and with coordination with state and local governments, we will work together towards making walking safer for everyone.

#NoMoreDeadPeds

#FixGeorgiaAve

#VisionZero

#Fix198

#DaleDriveSafety

#FriendsofFGMH

The Council Connection — WMATA chief to brief Council

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The Council in in regular session on Tuesday, and we have a full agenda.

WMATA chief to brief the Council
During Tuesday’s session, the Council will hear from Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Mr. Wiedefeld is expected to discuss how WMATA plans to use the new annual infusion of $500 million to its capital budget, which was recently agreed to by Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Beyond the remaining rehabilitation work necessary to fully restore reliable service, some of the candidate projects for these funds include the Forest Glen Station underpass, a new stairway at Shady Grove, a northern entrance and underpass at White Flint Metro and eliminating the Red Line turn backs at Silver Spring, among others.

In addition, the Council sent a letter to the WMATA Board of Directors requesting that it continue the Riders’ Advisory Council. The Council is a group of riders and residents from the DC-metro area that suggest service improvements and provides feedback on proposed changes. You can read more about it here.

Council to vote on wireless infrastructure zoning changes
Following a lengthy and productive worksession two weeks ago, Council is set to vote on a zoning change that guides the deployment of wireless infrastructure in our residential areas. With setback, size, and design requirements, the general concept is to allow a streamlined path for wireless infrastructure on existing utility poles and tall light posts, but to require greater scrutiny for the replacement of neighborhood light fixtures in areas without utility poles. The zoning changes allow for the deployment of this critical infrastructure in a way that is a sensitive to resident concerns.

Before making a decision on Tuesday, the Council will consider the zoning committee’s recommendations, a variety of amendments by Councilmembers, community feedback, and Council staff’s analysis. Read the staff report for more information.

Montgomery County receives Triple-A Bond Rating for 2018
Montgomery County has maintained its Triple-A bond rating for 2018 from all three Wall Street bond-rating agencies. Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all affirmed the “AAA” rating – the highest achievable for a municipal government. According to Moody’s, the Montgomery County’s tax base “will experience additional growth because of economic expansion and diversification” while affirming that “going forward, Moody’s will continue to monitor the county’s ability to main financial flexibility and reserve levels that are compliant with its 10 percent fund balance target.”

The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring lower costs across the board.

Pressing the State on pedestrian safety
In light of the recent spate of needless and tragic pedestrian deaths on State highways in the County, the Council has called on Gov. Larry Hogan to take immediate steps to address pedestrian safety along the Rt. 97/Georgia Ave corridor and other high danger areas. The Council has requested that the State review the speed limits along Georgia Ave as well as install a number of short-term initiatives to immediately improve pedestrian safety. State officials will brief the Council on November 13, 2018 on their plans.

Autumn has arrived and so have the leaves
Ready for fall leaf cleanup? The County’s Vacuum Leaf Collection Program will begin on Monday, November 5, 2018. The Neighborhood Leaf Collection signs will be posted in your community during the week of October 22, 2018. View the schedule for your neighborhood!

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

The Council Connection — full Council budget worksessions

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The Council is entering the homestretch for this year’s budget.

This week and next, the Council will be meeting nearly every day to make preliminary budget decisions on every aspect of County government, from police, housing, transportation, and schools to fire and rescue, recreation, and parks. A straw vote on the final budget will take place on Thursday, May 17 with formal approval one week later. You can check out the Council’s budget agendas and follow the Council’s progress by watching live and on demand. Despite the generally positive economic environment, tax revenues have been very volatile and below expectations.

The Council’s budget will reflect difficult trade-offs as we try to resolve competing community priorities. As of now, the Council has recommended more than $20 million for additions. The amount that the Council can actually fund, however, will be substantially less.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Council will also hold applicant interviews for positions on the Montgomery County Planning Board and the Board of Investment Trustees. The five-member Planning Board advises the Council on land use, transportation, zoning, and development approval issues. The Board of Investment Trustees oversees the County employee retirement plans.

Also on Thursday, the Council will travel to WSSC headquarters in Laurel, MD to meet with the Prince George’s County Council to discuss bi-county budgets. Both Counties work collaboratively to determine the budgets for bi-county agencies, which include WSSC and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).

After a busy few weeks reviewing and making recommendations on the budget, committees have a light week as the full Council turns its attention to the budget.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

  • The Council held a public hearing on a special appropriation to provide legal assistance for low-income County residents without violent criminal convictions who have been detained and face deportation proceedings.
  • The Council reviewed a number of key budget items, including schools, emergency management and homeland security, the Office of Human Rights, the Sheriff’s Office, and the State’s Attorney’s Office.
  • The Council presented proclamations recognizing the week of April 29-May 5 as National Small Business Week, May 5 as Tree House Tour de Cookie Day, and the month of May as Building Safety Month.

How do I…

…learn more about the County’s Vision Zero initiative?

The County has committed itself to reducing traffic related fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030, joining many other jurisdictions across the Country. Vision Zero is a policy framework that places higher priority on human safety than mobility and recognizes that transportation-related deaths are not inevitable, but preventable. As such, the transportation system (the infrastructure itself, enforcement, law, and education efforts) must be wholistically designed to maximize safety on the roadways.

The County recently published its 2 year action plan for Vision Zero, which sets forth the vision and makes numerous recommendations. You can read it here. The County Executive’s recommended budget reflects the importance of this initiative by programming more than $118 million in the upcoming fiscal year. See where those funds are programmed here.