County Council Adopts Innovative Bicycle Master Plan Plan

The Montgomery County Planning Department is pleased to announce that the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted to approve the Bicycle Master Plan on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

The Bicycle Master Plan envisions a future where all Montgomery County residents have access to a comfortable, safe and connected bicycle network. That vision is reached by achieving four goals:

Increase bicycling rates in Montgomery County.

Create a highly connected, convenient and low-stress bicycling network.

Provide equal access to low-stress bicycling for all members of the community.

Improve the safety of bicycling.

This groundbreaking plan recommends an extensive network of more than 1,000 miles of trails, paths and protected bike lanes, ample bicycle parking at Metrorail stations and commercial areas, and bicycle-supportive programs and policies. The plan used some of the most sophisticated analytical tools to identify and prioritize recommendations. It includes a state-of-the-practice bikeway design toolkit to provide guidance on how to construct world-class bikeways.

“This plan raises the bar for bicycle infrastructure planning and design in North America. It positions Montgomery County to be among the leading bicycling communities in the country,” says Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “The plan’s vision is only as successful as its implementation and I’m thrilled that the Montgomery County Department of Transportation has staffed up in preparation for the transformative task ahead. In five years, I fully expect that Montgomery County will have some of the best communities for bicycling in the entire region.”

Community members can get involved in the plan implementation by advocating for bicycle infrastructure projects in the Montgomery County capital budget and by weighing in on the implementation of bikeways through state and county construction projects and private development in the county.

“This plan lays the foundation for safer bicycling through recommendations for new bikeways throughout the county,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “It is truly innovative in identifying ways of making bicycling a mainstream mode of transportation in a suburban jurisdiction and helping the county to achieve its Vision Zero goals.”

 

Background on the Bicycle Master Plan

Launched in 2015, the Bicycle Master Plan proposes a low-stress bicycling network that encourages more people to ride a bike in Montgomery County. It recommends an array of bikeway types, including separated, buffered bike lanes and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities at transit stations.

The award-winning Bicycle Stress Map was created in 2016 to evaluate nearly 3,500 miles of roads and trails in Montgomery County. Each road segment and crossing were assigned a level of stress, from very low to very high, as experienced by cyclists to inform the public about the safety of bicycling in the county and help decision-makers prioritize bicycling improvements. As part of the public outreach, a coloring book depicting various bikeways was created to reinforce the plan’s emphasis on a low-stress cycling network since coloring is considered a stress-relieving activity.

 

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.

Bicycle Master Plan T&E Council Committee Worksession Recap

The Montgomery County Planning Department is making progress on the Bicycle Master Plan for Montgomery County through worksessions with the County Council.

On Monday, September 17, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and Montgomery Planning staff met with members of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee to discuss various aspects of the forward-thinking plan.

“This plan uses some of the most sophisticated analytical tools ever used for bicycle planning,” says Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “One of the objectives of the plan is to make bicycling a real mode of transportation for more county residents. Our data-driven approach to the plan’s recommendations show that safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure currently is lacking to connect people to their jobs, school and recreation – it’s an equity issue and one that can be solved with this plan.”

Some of the topics discussed at the T&E Committee worksession included:

Cost of the plan: The Bicycle Master Plan is intended to be implemented over a period of decades. Current cost estimates associated with the Bicycle Master Plan are not realistic in assuming every bikeway will get built as stand-alone projects funded by local government, as many will be implemented as part of other road and private development projects.

Implementation of the plan: The Council T&E Committee was complimentary of the Bicycle Master Plan goals but directed staff to remove target completion dates with each of the stages of the plan. Additionally, the committee wanted to make clear that the plan is an aspiration set of recommendations and that the plan is not intended to provided for the construction of every recommended bikeway, but rather that the plan provides redundancies in the network in the event that some recommendations are not feasible.

The T&E Committee’s next worksession on the Bicycle Master Plan is scheduled for October 1 and will focus on specific bikeway recommendations.

Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing Scheduled at County Council for July 10

The Montgomery County Planning Department invites the community to testify at the County Council’s public hearing for the Bicycle Master Plan, scheduled for Tuesday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD, third-floor hearing room). The hearing will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery channels and streamed live online. To learn more, consult the County Council Agenda webpage.

Community members are encouraged to sign up to testify by registering online or calling 240-777-7803. Speakers can also provide written testimony by sending it by mail to the Montgomery County Council (100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850) or by email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov. The deadline to sign up to testify is on July 9 at 10 a.m.

The Council will hold work sessions this summer to revise the plan before voting to approve it this fall. For more information, consult the Planning Board Draft of the Bicycle Master Plan.

Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing February 15

On January 25, 2018, the Planning Board conducted a public hearing on the Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing Draft and received testimony from more than 270 people.
The next step is for the Planning Board to review the testimony they received and to consider changes in the plan based on those comments. Over the next 2+ months, the Planning Board will conduct work sessions are held at the Planning Department auditorium (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD) which are open to the public. Consult the Planning Board’s agenda for more details.
Their first work session with the Planning Board will be held on February 15th and will cover these items:
  • Issue 1: Four Types of Transportation Cyclists
  • Issue 2: The Bicycle Master Plan Marginalizes “Moderate-Stress” Bicycling
  • Issue 3: Conventional Bike Lanes and Bikeable Shoulders are Better for Moderate-Stress Bicyclists
  • Issue 4: Breezeway Network
  • Issue 5: Two-Way Bikeways on Both Sides of the Street
  • Issue 6: Provide Equal Access to Low-Stress Bicycling for All Members of the Community (Goal 3)
  • Issue 7: Connectivity to Schools, Libraries and Recreation Centers.
The staff report, public testimony and responses to public testimony are available here.
The second work session on February 22nd is anticipated to include these issues:
  • Protected Intersections
  • Breezeway Network Attributes
  • Development Impact Taxes
  • Use of Developer Contributions
  • Bicycle Parking
  • School Policies
  • Bikeway Prioritization
  • Loading Zones
The March 1st work session is anticipated to address any remaining non-bikeway issues.
Future work sessions after March 1st will review comments on specific bikeway recommendations.

What do you want to tell the Planning Board about the Bicycle Master Plan?

The community is invited to comment on the Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing Draft. You can read the plan here.

The Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing will take place on January 25, 2018 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Montgomery County Planning Department Headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland).

Beginning on January 15, you can sign up online to testify.

The public is also invited to submit comments about the Bicycle Master Plan via email to mcp-chair@mncppc.org.

All comments and testimony will become part of the public testimony and public record for the plan.

 

Heads up on development coming before the Planning Dept. over the next couple of months

White Flint Development

Offutt Estates, a small townhouse development (5 units), along Hillery Way is returning to the Development Review Committee on January 2, 2018.

Pike and Rose Phase 1 and 2 amendments, including a new office building adjacent to Rose Park and additional changes, will be reviewed by the Planning Board in February 2018.

North Bethesda Center (LCOR) Block G will be reviewed by the Board in early 2018.

White Flint 2

The Council voted, 8-1, to approve the White Flint 2 Sector Plan last Tuesday, December 5. Next steps in the process include the approval of the new zoning (Sectional Map Amendment) and adoption of the Plan by the Planning Commission. The Committee will receive a full briefing on the WF2 Plan in 2018.

Bicycle Master Plan

The Board’s public hearing for the Bicycle Master Plan is scheduled for Thursday, January 25, 2018 at the Planning Department Headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD).

You can review the Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing Draft.

The community is invited to comment on the Bicycle Master Plan Public Hearing Draft.

Beginning on January 15, 2018, you can sign up sign up to testify online.

The public is also invited to submit comments about the Bicycle Master Plan via email to
mcp-chair@mncppc.org.

What do you think of the Bicycle Master Plan? M-NCPPC wants to know.

From the Montgomery County Planning Dept:
The Montgomery County Planning Department is seeking comments on the draft Bicycle Master Plan Framework Report. Review the draft Framework Report.
This report outlines the proposed framework for the Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan. It defines a vision by establishing goals and objectives, and recommends realizing that vision by creating a bicycle infrastructure network supported by policies and programs that encourage bicycling. The report proposes a monitoring program designed to make the plan implementation process both clear and responsive.
The Montgomery County Planning Board is scheduled to review the Framework Report at their July 28 meeting. The community is invited to sign up online to testify in person or submit written comments to mcp-chair@mncppc-mc.org.

 

The Planning Board is scheduled to review the Working Draft of the Bicycle Master Plan in Spring 2017.

 

 

Best Practices for Suburban Bicycling Planning

The Montgomery County Planning Department hosted the second event in its 2016 Winter Speaker Series with a presentation by Jennifer Toole, president of the Silver Spring-based Toole Design Group. This firm is currently assisting the Montgomery County Planning Department as it updates its Bicycle Master Plan.

View the  video presentation featuring Jennifer Toole on February 23.

View the short video news recap about the February 23 event.

Toole discussed the need to provide high-quality bikeways, now evident in cities, for suburban areas where the demand for safe bicycle conditions is growing. “Due to higher speeds on suburban roads, there is a greater need for separation between bicyclists and adjacent motor vehicle traffic,” said Toole. “There is also a greater need to address issues at intersections, driveways and property entrances in the suburbs.”

Drawing on her own experience, Toole discussed projects in the Netherlands and other locations to demonstrate the potential of bike travel in the suburbs. “Some designers throw up their hands when it comes to making suburban roads more bike-friendly, but it can be done successfully as shown in other countries,” she notes.

Toole debunked the myth that conditions in the Netherlands had always been primed for good bicycling. She compared cycling in the Greater Washington, DC region to Rotterdam, where bicycling has proven to be compatible with a lower density environment. As noted in her presentation, it took a concerted effort to transform a country with wide roads like the Netherlands into a bicycle-friendly society.

Bicycle Master Plan Community Advisory Group

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the 21-member Bicycle Master Plan Community Advisory Group, which will advise Planning Staff as the Master Plan develops. The group consists of 13 members from cycling and other organizations, and eight community members who applied to be part of the effort.

  • Joe Allen, Resident of Gaithersburg

  • Jeffry Arevalo, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

  • Kristin Blackmon, Bethesda Transportation Solutions & Bethesda Urban Partnership

  • Jack Cochrane, Montgomery Bicycle Advocates

  • Denise Cohen, Potomac Pedalers

  • Stacy Cook, Resident of Bethesda

  • Paul Daisey, Resident of Colesville

  • Peggy Dennis, Montgomery County Civic Federation

  • Alison Dewey, Resident of North Bethesda

  • Darrel Drobnich, Pedestrian Bicycle Traffic Safety Advisory Committee

  • Jay Elvolve, Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board

  • Janice Freeman, African American Chamber of Commerce

  • Joe Fritsch, Resident of Olney

  • Peter Gray, Washington Area Bicyclist Association

  • Richard Hoye, Action Committee for Transit

  • Renato Mendoza, CASA de Maryland

  • Shawn Punga, Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts

  • Geri Rosenberg, Resident of Silver Spring

  • Phil Shapiro, Resident of Kemp Mill

  • Deborah Turton, Resident of Damascus

  • Jim Young, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

You can read the draft master bicycle plan for the Pike District/White Flint area here.