Archives January 2019

E-bikes become a viable transportation option for county residents every day

From Montgomery Sentinel

NORTH BETHESDA – Marko Dolan, a local resident, rode an e-bike for the first time earlier this month because he did not want to wait for a midday bus.

He had needed to either use public transportation or travel on foot to meet a friend for lunch in Bethesda, but then he saw a group of LimeBikes near a park in his neighborhood.

“My first impression is positive,” Dolan said after parking the bike at a bike rack outside White Flint Station. “[The park is] in Tilden Woods; it’s a little park, and there was like five LimeBikes there, so I was like, ‘What’s Lime?’”

Dolan downloaded the app to his smartphone, used it to unlock the bike and rode to White Flint Station, which was quicker than the 35 minutes it would have taken to walk there. He is on furlough, so he still had enough of time to meet his friend if he had walked.

“[The bike] plays a little music, unlocks, and then you’re ready to go,” Dolan said.

In December, with the County’s permission, Limebike started placing e-bikes, or electrical-assist bikes, in North Bethesda as an expansion of an existing county pilot. The county began its dockless bikeshare program in fall 2017, which included unassisted bikes.

The dockless bikes are rentals, like Capital Bikeshare, that riders use but can be parked on a sidewalk after their trips, instead of returning them to a base. LimeBike, the vendor, added electric-assist bikes to the mix with their dockless fleet just before the pilot expansion from Silver Spring and Takoma Park to North Bethesda.

The county hosted three town halls in Silver Spring and in Bethesda for feedback from residents in October and November before expanding the pilot, said Gary Erenrich, special assistant to the director at Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

“There really wasn’t anything holding us back,” Erenrich said, about the North Bethesda location. “It was just a question of, you know, there seemed to be a need, there’s no reason not to expand. The area we chose to expand made sense.”

During a six-month period, riders took 18,000 trips on the bikes in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, according to an October county report. County officials were interested in expanding the pilot to North Bethesda because the area has infrastructure for it such as bike lanes, Erenrich said.  The fact that Capital Bikeshare — the docked, non-electric-assist bikes — has been a successful program in that area, added to the appeal.

One of the users of Capital Bikeshare in the North Bethesda area had been Dolan. He said he used Capital Bikeshare in the past and it had “worked well” for him. With the e-bike, Dolan said he felt a little bit of a “push” from the electric-assist, which made him momentarily lose control, and then he got used to it.

“It does give you a little push; [it’s] a very subtle push, but you might lose a little bit of control at first, you know, because it has e-charge,” Dolan said. “It’s like someone giving you a little, subtle push, you know, the bike.”

Users prefer the e-bike because it requires physical exercise and reduces his carbon footprint and his contribution to traffic, compared to driving or ride-sharing and costs less than ride-sharing. To lock it, the rider moves a red switch located behind the rear wheel.

Dolan said he liked the fact that the trip on the bike cost less than an Uber would. He said he paid $2.65 for the trip.

Officials say few complaints have come in since the pilot expansion as it currently considers expanding the e-bikes further to other parts of the County. However, Erenrich said he is not concerned about the complaints because none were about bikes being placed in dangerous locations, such as in front of a fire hydrant or bus stop, and because LimeBike relocates the bikes within a day of receiving a phone call.

Lofts Being Proposed for North Bethesda Apartments

From Bethesda Beat

North Bethesda Market Apartments

As development of multi-family residences grows, a North Bethesda apartment complex is seeking to shift its design to reduce lower-level retail space to make room for more apartments.

The North Bethesda Market apartments, on the west side of Rockville Pike across from the White Flint Mall site, opened about a decade ago with 411 units and 223,000 square feet of restaurant or retail space.

The applicant, Boston-based real estate and infrastructure investor CBRE Global Investors, has submitted a development application to the county Planning Board asking for permission to convert 14,259 square feet of “unenticing” retail area on the second floor of the 24-story high-rise building into 13 new apartment units.

Ten will be two-bedroom “loft style” apartments, and three are proposed as one-bedroom units that lease between $1,500 and $2,600 per month, according to a company website. Estimated rent price for the loft-style apartments are not listed, but two-bedroom units of various styles are listed between $2,200 and $4,100 a month.

Visit Bethesda Beat to read the rest of the article.

Fascinating Report on Montgomery County Demographic and Economic Trends

Now, I’m not usually one who dives deep into numbers … or even someone who wades in the shallow end of numbers. But the just released report from Montgomery Planning entitled Montgomery County Trends A Look at People, Housing and Jobs Since 1990 is an utterly fascinating look at the people and economy of Montgomery County.

I highly recommend you grab a cup of coffee and peruse this report (the maps alone are worth it) but if you don’t have the time, here are some highlights:


Montgomery County’s population grew 38 percent from 765,476 to 1,058,810 people between 1990 and 2017. This growth was driven primarily by births to residents and increasing international migration.

The county has grown increasingly diverse with people of color comprising more than 56 percent of the total population in 2016. Thirty-three percent of the population in 2016 versus 19 percent in 1990 are foreign-born. The proportion of foreign-born residents is the highest in the region. By 2045, the proportion of people of color in the county is expected to be 73 percent.

Fifty-nine percent of county residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 50 percent regionally.

Over the decades, Montgomery County shifted from predominately married-couples-with-children households to a broader mix of household types including single parent, couples with no children under 18, singles, and unrelated cohabitation.

The age 65-plus population is expected to double from 120,000 in 2010 to 244,000 by 2040, increasing from 12 percent to 21 percent of the total population. The county’s aging population may assert downward pressure on household incomes.

A median household income of just under $100,000 in 2016 places Montgomery County 17th among counties across the nation and ranks 5th in the Washington, D.C. area. Median household income, stagnant since 2010, has not recovered from the 2007 to 2009 recession, and remains below its adjusted 1999 median at $103,143.


The number of housing units in Montgomery County increased by 32 percent from 295,723 to 390,563 units between 1990 and 2016. This figure is lower than the 50 percent increase in housing supply in the Washington, D.C. region over the same period. Most of this growth took place in the 1990s and 2000s, with average annual growth rates exceeding 1 percent. In contrast, the average annual growth rate was only 0.7 percent from 2010 to 2016.

The home ownership rate among households under age 35 declined dramatically from 45 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 2016. Only one age cohort – households aged 75 and older experienced an increase in homeownership rates during this period, going from 65 percent to 74 percent.

The number of renters grew significantly as a result of the changing mix of housing units and household types in Montgomery County. In 1990, only 32.1 percent of households (90,595) were renters. By 2016, this figure increased to 35.3 percent of households (131,791 renter households.)

Demand for owner-occupied units continues to strongly favor detached homes as well as homes that are closer to the urban ring, walkable to community amenities, and homes with strong transportation connectivity.

The percentage of households in the county that are spending at least 35 percent of their income on housing costs has continued to grow since 1990, with growth particularly acute among renters. Forty percent of renters and 40% of households making the median income are spending more than a third of their income on housing.


Two industries—education, health and social services, and professional, scientific and management services—employed the largest number of residents in both 1990 and 2016. Their combined share as a percentage of overall employment increased from 33 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2016. In contrast, the percentage of residents employed by the federal government declined from 15 to 13 percent, although the number of federal workers grew slightly from 65,506 in 1990 to 73,587 in 2016.

The private sector accounts for around 81 percent of total jobs located in Montgomery County.

About three-fifths of county workers also live in the county, up slightly from 1990, with 65 percent driving to work in a personal vehicle. Carpooling decreased from 13 percent to 9 percent while about 6 percent of people walk, use public transportation or bike to work.

County Executive’s CIP Budget Released

The CIP Budget is Montgomery County’s Capital Budget. We’ve been studying the CIP budget and talking with county officials about the CIP budget since it was released a few days ago. You can read the budget details here. Below are some of the parts of the CIP that most affect the White Flint area.

One of the first things to notice about the budget is that it eliminates funds for the second White Flint metro entrance. Funding was shifted to beyond the six year period due to affordability and the intention to pursue WMATA funding,

The plan also eliminates funding for Montrose Parkway East. Costs to construct the previously approved project have been eliminated and planning funds have been added to evaluate less costly alternative options for addressing safety and congestion concerns.

The CIP includes funding for a new five bay Fire and Rescue Station in the Rockville/White Flint area and the purchase of associated apparatus. The new facility will be located on an acquired site at the south-east quadrant of Route 355 and Randolph Road, Space has been added to co-locate a future Police Substation at the fire station

The Josiah Henson Park project received funding to rehabilitate the existing Josiah Henson Park and create a heritage tourism destination. The project includes converting the historic Riley/Bolten House to a public museum; constructing a new 2.900 square foot visitor center with bus-drop off area and five-car parking lot on the former Rozier property; and new landscape sitework and outdoor interpretation that will make the park more accessible for visitors and convey its former appearance as a plantation.

Finally, funding for the Wall Park garage was pushed back, too.

Stay tuned as we delve further into the CIP and determine our advocacy plan. Please share your thoughts on the County Executive’s CIP Budget with us at

White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting Rescheduled for Thursday, January 17, 7 p.m

The rescheduled White Flint Implementation Committee Meeting (Monday’s meeting was cancelled due to snow) will be held Thursday, January 17, 7 pm, at the Shriver Aquatic Center.

The agenda includes:

  1. Introductions
  2. Development and Infrastructure Updates
  3. White Flint Downtown Committee (Brian Downie/Francine Waters)
  4. White Flint Implementation Coordinator Report (Dee Metz)
  5. Sketch Plan Presentation Update: VOB/Nissan/Capital One properties
  6. Other topics: Mary Ward: Public facilities