Archives October 2018

Bicycle Master Plan Passes Major Milestone; Council Work Sessions Completed with an Affirmative Straw Vote

The Montgomery County Council expressed significant support for the Bicycle Master Plan two weeks ago by voting 8-0 in favor of the proposed plan in a straw vote taken at the conclusion of their worksessions on the document.  The plan, if adopted, would be a comprehensive update to the Bicycle Master Plan. A final vote by the County Council on the Bicycle Master Plan will be held in late November.

The Montgomery County Planning Department has been working on the project since late 2015. After an extensive public review process, the Planning Board approved a draft of the new plan and transmitted it to the County Council in May of 2018. The Council’s transportation committee reviewed the plan in September and October, making numerous recommendations, before sending the document to the full Council.

Public Invited to Provide Input on Possible Expansion of Dockless Bikeshare Beyond Silver Spring to White Flint

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) seeks public input on the potential expansion of dockless bikeshare beyond the current pilot area in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Additional areas under consideration are Bethesda, North Bethesda (including White Flint), Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase, Veirs Mill and Wheaton. Input is also sought on whether to allow the use of pedal-assist, electric “e-bikes” and e-scooters in these areas. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in at three upcoming MCDOT-sponsored Town Hall meetings and through an online survey that will be available later this week. A map of the proposed expansion area is available online.

The Town Hall meetings will all be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on:

Monday, October 29, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Auditorium, 8787 Spring Street, Silver Spring
Tuesday, October 30, Bethesda Chevy Chase High School Cafeteria, 4301 East West Hwy Bethesda
Thursday, November 1, Walter Johnson High School Cafeteria, 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda

To date, two companies have expressed an interest in either starting or expanding operations in Montgomery County, and representatives from these companies will be available at the Town Hall meetings to speak with the public. Before expanded operations would be allowed, dockless, e-bike and e-scooter companies would be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Montgomery County that spells out operational and performance requirements. Input from the public will inform the provisions of those MOUs.

Dockless electric bikes and scooters are not allowed to operate on Montgomery County park trails and will not be permitted to end trips or park in Montgomery County villages and towns that do not opt into the expanded program.

Those interested in using the GPS-enabled vehicles register through a smartphone app that then allows users to locate, unlock and lock the bikes and scooters, and pay for rides. Riders must obey bicycle laws and are encouraged to wear helmets and reflective items.

MCDOT has completed an evaluation of the year-long, dockless bikeshare pilot project in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. During that time, adjustments to the program were made based on public input that greatly reduced the number of reported concerns.

The evaluation found that the program was generally quite successful in providing short, point-to-point trips. Riders took a total of about 18,000 trips over a six-month period using bikes from the two companies maintaining operations in the pilot area. Most trips were conducted within the pilot area boundaries, though about 15 percent of trips ended in areas of the County outside the pilot area. Incidents of improper parking of the bikes reduced over time as the companies improved their “in-app” communications and users became more familiar with the rules. During a six-week observation period, bikes were found to generally be in good operating condition, without significant incidences of missing parts. During that period, most bikes observed were parked appropriately, while seven percent were parked in a way that caused an obstruction.

Breaking News: No More Grosvenor Turnback!

Yesterday,  Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld announced that the “Grosvenor Turnback” – the current rush-hour service pattern where every other Red Line train begins and ends at Grosvenor, rather than Shady Grove – would be eliminated on December 17, 2018. Under the future service pattern, all Red Line trains will run to/from Shady Grove, doubling rush-hour service (trains every 4 minutes) for customers at White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville, and Shady Grove.

This is wonderful news for the Pike District/White Flint area.  After all, it’s hard to have transit-oriented development without frequent, reliable transit. Friends of White Flint is proud that its advocacy efforts — combined with the efforts of local government, residents, and other nonprofit organizations — have led to this important change.

Read more at Bethesda Beat and Channel 9 News.

 

An informative and successful County Executive Forum

Last night, a packed house at AMP by Strathmore listened as moderator Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of Friends of White Flint, asked questions about development, schools, green space, budgeting, transit, and other issues important to the Pike District to the three candidates for county executive.  Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich, and Robin Ficker spent an hour stating why they serve your vote.  The Sentinel covered this event; please read reporter Nickolai Sukharev‘s tweets to learn more about the candidate’s views.

Moderator says questions will focus on White Flint area

First question is on Amazon … Elrich says White Flint doesn’t need to be reengineered for the HQ2 … Ficker talks freedom from regulators … Floreen says Elrich fights Amazon HQ2 at every opportunity

Question on attracting development … Floreen talks business friendly policies … Ficker talks missed opportunities for Apple and FBI bids … Elrich talks small business incubators

Follow up for Elrich on growth projections … he clarifies jobs being created such as individual entrepreneurs

Question on infrastructure and development … chicken/egg analogy … Ficker talks Westbard … Elrich talks revenue reforms

Question on BRT … Elrich talks development districts in VA … Floreen talks application taxes … Ficker says BRT is ‘Big Robbery Today’ adds Elrich wants residents to ride a bus he won’t take

Elrich adds BRT should go to Clarksburg … Ficker says metro unreliable and funds should be used to fix metrorail

Question on Rockville Pike … all candidates support more bike infrastructure

Questions on school capacity in WJ cluster … Ficker says many people by buy homes based on school quality … Elrich says Woodward should be reopened … Floreen says school funds impacted by development

Question on school funding … Ficker says he will go to BoE and listen … Floreen says funding issues should be worked out during budget issues … Elrich talks greater cooperation with BoE

Question on MPDUs and housing … Floreen and Elrich support expanding housing opportunities

Question on green space … Floreen talks expanding park incentives in development … Ficker says he would expand athletic fields and increasing PE in schools

Question on debt … Ficker talks fiscal responsibility … Floreen says WallSt wants MoCo to have vibrant economy … Elrich says he opposes trickle down economics 

Question on cuts … Ficker says any business Elrich goes near closes such as Discovery Communications and Dawson’s Market 

During Sunday’s forum at the Strathmore AMP in Rockville, asked to sign a pledge not to increase taxes. Elrich did, but only under the stipulation that the pledge lasts for one year beginning July 1, 2019

Ficker added he asked and to sign the pledge, which is from the Americans For Tax Reform, during the Oct 8 forum at the B’nai Tzedek congregation in Potomac, but both refused. Ficker did not ask Floreen to sign the pledge at this evening’s forum

Pike District Promenade is this Saturday!

Meet your neighbors and reconnect with old friends while enjoying a lovely walk along the Trolley Trail.  Meet up at 10 am Saturday, October 20 at the North Bethesda Market plaza in between CVS and Seasons 52. AARP will have some terrific AARP swag to give you, too.

This event is for all ages — from those in strollers to seniors — and is dog-friendly.

Free parking is available in the North Bethesda Market garage, or even better, ride your bike or walk to NoBe Market.