Celebrate White Flint Bike Share

DATE CHANGE! Montgomery County will hold a ribbon-cutting event next week to celebrate several new BikeShare stations in the Pike District. The event will be held on Thursday, April 12 at 10:00 a.m. at the new BikeShare station located at White Flint Metro. (Specifically, they will be on the east side of 355, just north of Marinelli Road.)

Bike Share Programs Have Had Millions of Rides but No Fatalities

It was recently found that there still has not been a single fatality of a cyclist using bike-share across the 36 bike share programs in the United States. There has been an estimate of over 23 million rides across the bike-share programs in the U.S., which is a great thing to hear.

One reason that cyclists using bike-share bikes are less likely to get injured, or even worse, is because of the bikes themselves. The bikes are heavy and have wide tires that make it much harder for riders to travel fast. Also, some bikes come with lights already installed, making it easier for others to see these cyclists when they are riding. Some people, however, criticize these bike-share programs because they do not require riders to wear helmets.

Also, there is the idea that as biking becomes more popular among individuals for means of both transportation and leisure, drivers will get more used to bikers and will be more willing to share the road with them. As we have discussed in the past, the popularity around biking can even help give reason for more biking infrastructures that will ultimately encourage more safe biking.

We hope that The Capital Bikeshare program will continue to be prevalent in the county, especially in the White Flint sector. We also want riders to continue to feel safe riding their bikes in this area, especially with the biking infrastructure improvements coming to the sector.

Updates From the Great MoCo Bike Summit

We attended the Great MoCo Bike Summit on Saturday. About 70 people attend the event, with about half that decided to join the community bike ride from Silver Spring along the Capital Crescent trail to the Jane E. Lawton Recreational Center in Bethesda. The event began with an introduction from Councilmember Hans Riemer. Riemer discussed that the essential parts of boosting biking culture will be to bring changes to the urban areas throughout the county, to major commuter routes, and to create recreational areas that are conducive to biking.

Shane Farthing, from Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), discussed the types of people that policymakers and enthusiastic bikers should try to reach out to in the community. WABA found that 11,700 Montgomery County residents are biking supporters, people who have expressed interest in some of WABA’s programming. There are four types of individuals related to biking: no way, no how; interested but concerned; enthusiastic and willing; and fearless and strong. To boost biking in the county, we need to reach the 60% of the population that fall in the interested but concerned category. These people may have not considered biking, are not safe biking, do not feel safe biking, or do not feel comfortable biking. The first few steps in changing resident’s behaviors is to provide them with information and to get them to question their current routines that may involve vehicle transportation. Then safety concerns need to be address, including perceived safety. Essentially, to boost bike culture means we need to be able to change our lifestyle, our routines.

Dave Anspacher, from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), discussed the more policy side of boosting biking culture in the county. The county received a grant from the Council of Governments to complete a Network Connectivity Study that studies the level of traffic stress experienced in certain areas.  The county is able to see areas where connecting islands of safe bike routes or walking routes need to be connected in the future. The pilot study was a part of the Bethesda Downtown Plan. The next step the county needs to take is to update the County Bikeway Plan, which was last updated in 2005.

Pat Shepherd, the Bikeways Coordinator for MCDOT, discussed that the county is focusing on implementing buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks currently. These are what residents have asked for. Fred Lees, Traffic Engineer, also discussed the resurfacing of streets that is taking place creating bike lanes (such as the Marinelli Road proposed bike lanes).

Anne Root, coordinator of the Capital Bikeshare program at MCDOT, really focused on the fact that the Bikeshare program is another public transportation system. It helps increase public health, decrease vehicle occupancy, and boost economic development. As we have discussed in past posts, biking can help bring profit to businesses because bikers are more likely to make more than one stop along strip of stores than a driver who will want to stay in close proximity to their parked car. Bikeshare sent a survey to their 2013 annual members, and 40% of the respondents said they made at least one trip they would have never made because of the bike, which are called “induced” trip, inducing people to spend money. The Bikeshare program has reduced 4.4 million driving miles across the Washington area, cutting back the vehicle traffic that has overcome this area.

Near the end of the summit, a resident from White Flint, discussed the need to bring more biking infrastructure to the White Flint sector. Right now, Nebel Street is the only proposed area that will have bike lanes.  Jack Cochrane from MoBike agreed with the statement and added that we should think about adding some new facilities in the White Flint area that are not necessarily part of the plan.

This is where the Urban Road Code bill that Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner are working on comes in. Updating the codes will allow for more biking infrastructures to take place. The council needs to hear from residents to understand how important these improvements will be for them.

Can Bike Signals Make Biking Safer?

We have been focusing a lot of attention on the safety of pedestrians and bikers. Another element that could help the safety of Montgomery County residents are bike signals or boxes, similar to walk signals. Bike boxes were just recognized by American engineers to be included in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), according to Angie Schmitt. These bike signals are used like walk signals, to “reduce conflicts between people on bikes and turning drivers, give cyclists a head start at intersections, or create a separate phase entirely for bicycle traffic.” Before these signals were approved and recognized by the MUTCD, any neighborhood or community wanting to install them had to conduct engineering studies to test if the signals would make a difference. These studies became so expensive that it often hindered communities from trying. Since the signals are approved by the MUTCD, the studies are no longer necessary.


Source: Bike Portland

Is this something we want in White Flint? Do you think bike signals will make biking safer? Will it help attract more bikers to the area if they know there are extra safety precautions in place?

Share your thoughts!

Is Bicycling in the United States More Dangerous?

Bicycling is an excellent form of transportation used by many in countries across the world. Ensuring the safety of bicyclists is an important issue, especially as bicycling becomes more popular. Matt Phillips, from The Quartz identified a report completed by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that shows that the safety of bicyclists varies immensely across countries. Americans are most likely to be killed compared to the other 33 country members of the OECD.

Below is a chart that shows bicycling travel per inhabitant per year and the number of cyclists killed per kilometer.

quartz screen-shot-2013-12-20-at-1-42-10-pm

Source: The Quartz; OECD report

Some of the statistics included in The Quartz article from the report include:

  • “An overwhelming majority of fatal bicycle crashes occur in dry or clear atmospheric conditions – 94% in the USA and 87% in Europe.”
  • “In the United States, most fatal bicycle-vehicle collisions involved a passenger car or light truck  (Sports Utility Vehicle) though 10% of fatal bicycle collisions involved a large truck.”
  • “In the United States, 36% of all fatal bicycle crashes for the period 2005-2011 occurred in junctions with another 4% in driveways (commercial and private) most likely caused by entering or exiting motor vehicles.”

Source: The Quartz; OECD report;

Designing streets and sidewalks to be more bicycle-friendly will cut down on the bicycling fatalities faced by many Americans. According to the state of Maryland, “Bicyclists fare best when they act like and are treated as drivers of vehicles.” It is also Maryland law that “bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.” It is important for bicyclists to ensure their own safety by following traffic laws but we can do our part by advocating for roads and sidewalks that are bicycle-friendly. We hope the presence of bicyclists will continue to grow in the White Flint area but we must make sure our bicyclists are safe. Check out this page for more information bicycling in Maryland.

For more statistics, read the full article from The Quartz here.


Boston gets bike helmet vending machines

Boston's bikeshare program, Hubway. Photo by the author.

Boston’s bikeshare program, Hubway. Photo by the author.


We’re really excited that Montgomery County now has Capital Bikeshare, and have written (a lot) about the many benefits of bicycle-friendly communities. However, as our community shifts from being auto-dominant to having more complete streets, there is a learning curve. Safety has been a concern throughout the process. Bike lanes play a critical role in helping everyone feel safer and are a critical piece of infrastructure. But what about helmets?

Boston is leading the way on this initiative, with Mayor Thomas Menino unveiling a machine that dispenses bicycle helmets for the city’s bike share system, Hubway. The “HelmetHub” machine is the first of its kind in the country. There is only one machine now, which will be used to gather data about use before more machines are introduced in 2014.

The rental fee is $2, with the stipulation that they must be returned in 24 hours. Otherwise, they can be purchased for $20. Helmets returned to the machine will be inspected and sanitized.

Mayor Menino said in a statement “Our goal is to make Hubway a great and safe way to get around town.” You can read more about this initiative here, and be sure to check out HelmetHub’s website as well!

What Bike Infrastructure Looks Like

Arlington, Virginia, has been a regional leader in smart growth.  With high-density, mixed-use development along transit lines, they are an example worth monitoring as we implement the White Flint Sector Plan.  Because they are out of space to build new roads, and their transit capacity is slowing in growth, Arlington needed to find other ways to move people.  And, that’s really their focus — moving people, not just moving cars.

Bike infrastructure is coming to White Flint and this documentary, produced by BikeArlington, offers some great visuals of what it might look like:

Want to Understand White Flint? Look at New York

Here at Friends of White Flint, we talk about a lot of concepts in what seems like a bubble:  Complete Streets!  Bus and Bike Lanes!  Urbanizing our Space!  Pedestrian Friendly!  But it might be hard to envision what those things would look like here and how they would benefit residents and businesses.

Our world is shifting – today is the first time in history that more people live in cities than don’t.  New York City is meeting that demand head-on and they’re implementing the concepts we’re talking about for White Flint.  Over the last few years, NYC has repurposed 26 acres of active car lanes into things like pedestrian plazas.  They have installed 30 miles of protected bikes lanes – and they have seen biking rates soar without increase in injury – and 40,000 people are using bikeshare each day.

But, don’t take my word for it.  Spend a few minutes today listening to Janette Sadik-Khan, transportation commissioner for New York City.  See how these transformations have impacted the most congested city in the world – there are many lessons here for White Flint.

The description of her TED talk:  “In this funny and thought-provoking talk, Janette Sadik-Khan, transportation commissioner of New York City, shares projects that have reshaped street life in the 5 boroughs, including pedestrian zones in Times Square, high-performance buses and a 6,000-cycle-strong bike share. Her mantra: Do bold experiments that are cheap to try out.

As commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan is responsible for the smooth running of a New York that hides in plain sight… the streets, highways, bridges, signs and lights that make up the bustling metropolis.”<\span>



Bike Share in the Suburbs? Yes!

Last month, Montgomery County was proud to welcome Capital Bikeshare across the District border and into our communities.  Encouraging bicycling is new for our area, which is not known for having streets friendly to multiple modes of transportation.  With this important first step, County residents are offered a different choice for getting around.

Although no Bikeshare station is presently located in White Flint, there is a plan to expand here as redevelopment progresses.  Several new development plans, including Pike and Rose, are poised to incorporate them into their properties.  Ensuring that, as our new roads are built out, we emphasize the needs of all travelers (and not just drivers) is going to be of key importance as we work with the state and county transportation engineers.  Our work is going to be cut out for us.

But, it’s for a good reason.  Last week, the League of American Bicyclists released their rankings of “Bicycle Friendly Communities.”  The full list includes 291 towns and cities in 48 states and ranks them in a four-tier system, from Platinum to Bronze.  Interestingly, our area is already represented.  Washington, DC, was awarded Silver and Bethesda and Rockville were each awarded Bronze.  There’s room for improvement – read more about the rankings here.

The stakes are high.  As Bill Nesper, Vice-President for Programs at the League of American Bicyclists told the Atlantic Cities, “what’s happening is that bicycling is an indicator of a high quality of life.  It helps the community compete.”  The article continues to say that “suburban leaders are seeking out a “bicycle friendly” designation because they think it makes their communities more attractive to new businesses and residents. He cites Greenville, South Carolina, as another unexpected place that earned a bronze designation this year. Amenities like good bike infrastructure can help set a suburb or small city apart from its sprawling counterparts.”  Read the full Atlantic Cities piece here.