Friday, October 5, 2012

Need for Infrastructure to Support Bikeshare

Yesterday I sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, Darrell Mobley, urging him to consider bicycle safety infrastructure, including dedicated bike lanes, in Montgomery County.

The letter explains that Montgomery County is currently developing a bikeshare program and encourages the County and State Departments of Transportation to partner to ensure safety for all bicyclists, especially for bikeshare users. The Maryland Department of Transportation contributed $1,008,000 to the pending bikeshare program in the areas of Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

Here’s the complete text of the letter:

October 4, 2012

Darrell Mobley
Acting Secretary of Transportation
Maryland Department of Transportation
P. O. Box 548, 7201 Corporate Center Drive
Hanover, MD 21076

Dear Mr. Mobley,

Thanks in part to a grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation, Montgomery County is now undertaking a plan to implement bikeshare in several locations throughout the county. We are grateful to the department for its assistance in helping us jumpstart the program, and I urge you to continue to partner with us to make sure the program is safe for riders.

Bikesharing has the potential to significantly improve connectivity within Montgomery County and provide an entirely new transportation option for many. As we encourage this mode of transportation, we must also make sure we have the infrastructure to provide a safe environment for all bicyclists and especially for novice riders who will travel at relatively low speeds.

To this end, I encourage MDOT to implement wherever feasible these improvements endorsed by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association:

• Buffered bike lanes--where sufficient space exists, provide buffered space between the bicycle travel space and vehicular travel space (or the “door zone” of the vehicle);
• Non-buffered bike lanes—where space is available, provide a bike lane with a minimum width of five feet, in keeping with national engineering standards;
• Shared use markings (sharrows)—where special constraints make the provision of dedicated space for bicycling impossible, provide sharrows to indicate the likelihood of bicyclists present and to show safe riding location within the lane;
• Conflict zone markings—where conflicts between modes are anticipated (i.e. where motor vehicles must turn across bike facilities) use green lanes to bring greater attention to the likelihood of cyclists, the bike facility and the potential for conflict.

Specifically, I ask you to consider placing bike lanes on Georgia Avenue from Spring Street to 13th Street and on the east side of Colesville Road from East-West Highway north to Georgia Avenue.

Additionally, I hope you will consider bicycle safety and install bike lanes and appropriate markings where feasible in these resurfacing projects scheduled for FY13:

MD 28 (Key West Avenue) - Hurley Avenue to South Adams Street
MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) - Emory Lane to Old Baltimore Road
MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) - Connecticut Avenue to International Drive
MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) - DC Line to Colesville Road
MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) - Glenallan Avenue to Connecticut Avenue
MD 185 (Connecticut Avenue) - Warner Street to Georgia Avenue
MD 185 (Connecticut Avenue) - DC Line to East-West Highway
MD 193 (University Boulevard) - Arcola Avenue to Colesville Road
MD 320 (Piney Branch Road) - DC Line to University Boulevard
MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) - DC Line to Bradley Boulevard
MD 355 (Hungerford Drive) - Mannakee Street to King Farm Boulevard
MD 355 (Rockville Pike) - Cedar Croft Drive to Strathmore Avenue
MD 355 (Rockville Pike) - Nicholson Lane to Old Georgetown Road
MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) - Montgomery Avenue to Jones Bridge Road
MD 410 (Ethan Allan Avenue) - Park Avenue to New Hampshire Avenue
MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road) - Andrew Street to University Boulevard

Again, thank you for all you do for transportation in Montgomery County generally and for bikeshare specifically. I look forward to continuing to work with you on these priorities.

Nancy Floreen
Montgomery County Councilmember at large


Anonymous said...

Bikers need to get a grip. Already 1 million has been spent to appease these never ending bikers that want governments to pay for their pleasure!! As a former softball, football and basketball player/coach, WE HAD TO PAY TO USE THE FACILITES!! Please tell me how much do bikers pay??? It is time for these obsessive, build me another biker trail to PONY-UP with cash to play the game!!!

D.S. Bethesda said...

Anonymous has a point, but only just. Cyclists pay taxes, like everyone else, for the maintenance of roads that cars and cyclists use. Cyclists' taxes also go to fund county sports facilities, some of which have user fees. I also pay some of these user fees for the sports leagues my children and I play in. User fees are discussed here. This shows that the user fees are for maintaining facilities against wear and tear from the users, not for capital construction costs. (

Also, because I bicycle to work, my house needs one less car. One less car on the road means that much less traffic, and less wear and tear on the streets. I would hope that non-cyclist daily drivers would see this a direct benefit to them, one which they should support. I don't begrudge drivers at all -- I am one, too -- but, cars and bicycles should be able to coexist. It is not a zero-sum equation.

As a cyclist, if the county built high quality dedicated bike lanes and maintained them in first-class condition, I would be willing to pay a user fee, sort of like a toll, to offset some of their wear and tear. So, Anonymous has a point. But I think his or her apparent anger indicates that he/she doesn't care very much for cyclists, which worries me.

In sum, anonymous should take a look at the state and county roads budget. He/She'll discover that a good $25 million or more will be spent next year on roads-related work. (The county's budget is here: A small expenditure to make bicycling safer would lure more people out of cars and onto bikes, clearing the roads for other users.

If Anonymous wants a full pay-to-play county, he should argue for it across the board and not vent only on cyclists.

Anonymous said...

Copenhagen, Denmark was so eager to get commuters on bikes that they provided free, secure parking at bus stops, rail terminals, ferry docs, etc. AND...they paid daily bike commuters a government stipend that was enough for a person to buy a new bike every three years. They're a bit more practical over there.

Anonymous said...

Bike commuting is the best-kept secret in Washington. The weather permits year-round commuting. Close parking is always available and i never schedule my commute to avoid traffic delays. Great exercise. My daughter rides on my bike to daycare everyday, and my 3rd grade son rides his bike to school. Despite how it sounds, we are not cycle enthusiasts. It's simply the most convenient way to get around. I am for anything that encourages others to start pedaling to work.