Update on our bicycle safety efforts
January 13, 2016
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 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:
- 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.
- 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the County Council (email@example.com) to let them know you support safe bicycle infrastructure in the County.
- 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.