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'Road Diet' Proposed for Arlington Road

Trimming a lane for drivers and adding space for cyclists are among bike infrastructure improvement suggestions made by cyclist groups ahead of Capital Bikeshare.

Taking a driving lane out of Arlington Road north of Bradley Boulevard to provide space for bike lanes are among the bike infrastructure improvements proposed by two local cyclist groups ahead of the implementation of Capital Bikeshare.

The “road diet” for Arlington Road is among the list of suggestions developed by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Montgomery Bicycle Advocates for Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring and Takoma Park.

Bicycle safety has been in the spotlight ahead of the implementation of a downcounty Capital Bikeshare system, expected to launch next year, which some say could bring inexperienced cyclists to busy downtown streets and increase conflicts between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

“In order to attract BikeShare users and encourage people to use their bikes for transportation, it’s crucial to provide facilities that make people feel comfortable and safe on a bike,” the groups wrote in a document that was forward to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the Bethesda Urban Partnership.

Other Bethesda-area suggestions include Bethesda Trolley Trail upgrades, providing a “contraflow” northbound bike lane on Woodmont Avenue from Hampden Lane to Old Georgetown Road and adding bike lanes on Woodmont from Old Georgetown Road to Battery Lane – which could require removing on-street parking on one side of the street.

According to a county spokeswoman Esther Bowring, safe bicycle access is a priority for the county Department of Transportation, and MCDOT regularly meets with bicycle advocates to discuss concerns and project updates.

“Some of the projects that WABA and MoBike have identified are currently being studied/designed/ by the Department and/or have been studied in the past,” Bowring wrote in an e-mail to Patch. “The newer requests will be placed on a waiting list and included for consideration as future candidate projects under the FY15-20 Facility Planning-Transportation.” 

When it comes to the Arlington Road “road diet” suggestion, Bowring said the county currently has no plans to remove a driving lane. In fact, MCDOT is studying adding a fifth lane to the existing four-lane road from Wilson Lane to Bradley Boulevard. The proposed lane would provide left turn bays at intersections and a two-way left turn lane at mid-block locations.

WABA and Mobike's list of bicycle infrastructure improvement suggestions for Bethesda and Friendship Heights:

  • Make Woodmont Avenue a two way street for bicyclists south of Old Georgetown Road by providing a “contraflow” northbound bike lane from Hampden Lane to Old Georgetown (optionally with a northbound car lane) or a cycle track on the east side Reconfigure the Woodmont/Elm Street intersection and the bike lanes south of Elm Street.
  • Add bike lanes on Woodmont Avenue from Old Georgetown Road to Battery Lane. This may require removing on-street parking on one side of the street.
  • Implement a “road diet” on Arlington Road north of Bradley Boulevard, reducing the number of travel lanes from four to three (including a two-way left turn lane) to provide space for bike lanes.
  • Make the short one-way section of Glenbrook Road/Little Falls Parkway (just south of Bradley Blvd.) a two-way street for bikes.
  • Provide sharrows in the right-hand lane on Old Georgetown Road from Wisconsin Avenue to at least Battery Lane.
  • Provide bike lanes and a shared use path on Bradley Boulevard west of Goldsboro Road. This is currently in facility planning.
  • Provide sharrows on Bradley Boulevard from Goldsboro Road to Wisconsin Ave.
  • Consider other sharrows – Norfolk Avenue, Cordell Avenue, portions of Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street
  • Place bike lanes on Friendship Boulevard between North Park Avenue and Western Avenue.
  • Place bike lanes on Western Avenue between Connecticut Avenue and River Road.
  • Place bike lanes on Willard Avenue between Wisconsin Avenue and River Road where they fit.
  • Improve connectivity from Dorset Avenue to Friendship Boulevard/North Park Avenue (upgrade dirt path for example)

What do you think about the proposed "road diet" for Arlington Road and the other suggestions for bicycle infrastructure improvements in Bethesda and Friendship Heights? Tell us in the comments.

Nate December 11, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Montgomery County has dropped the ball on making its community bikeable. Capital Bikeshare has been in DC, Arlington and Alexandria for over two years now. In combination with comparatively low-cost infrastructure changes it has been improving access and easing traffic for residents and commuters. Easy bike access for an affordable cost and a safe place to ride decrease the necessity to rely on cars--this cuts down on traffic, improves health and lowers the community's environmental footprint. To be frank, the idea of losing a car-lane on Arlington Road is hard to swallow, but the alternative of waiting until FY15-20 for MoCo to seriously consider bicyclists in their transportation plans is simply unacceptable. It looks like a continuation of their current strategy: wait for DC and VA to take the lead and, when their successes are overwhelming, begrudgingly and slowly follow suit.
jag December 11, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Agree. MoCo's transportation policy has refused to join the 21st century and DC/Arlington are reaping the rewards.
Corbin Dallas Multipass December 11, 2012 at 07:20 PM
"Montgomery County has dropped the ball on making its community bikeable." I don't know if the phrase drop the ball is entirely accurate. Maybe late to the party? Also, besides delays, what is the actual downside of watching another community implement a solution and then follow up on it? What if the solutions had failed? Would you be hear bemoaning that Montgomery County wasted money on an unproven solution?
Corbin Dallas Multipass December 11, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I'm curious why this is also, I think Patch editors might have a story here on their hands since this has come up a few times. I have seen this as well. Perhaps some photographs of the offending vehicles would help?
Nate December 11, 2012 at 09:05 PM
@Corbin, I appreciate your thoughts. It seems to me that a reasonable approach to transportation and development should incorporate practices that will reduce a community's dependence on automobiles. Without these project development and transportation will inevitably lead to more sprawl, more commuter miles logged, worse gridlock, and greater environmental destruction. Over the last 5 years we can see projects in DC and Northern Virginia that promote walkable communities and reduce dependence on autos--whether by Capital Bikeshare, smartgrowth development like in the Ballston region, or HOT lanes that at least reward carpooling. MoCo has put in the ICC--one of the most staunchly environmentally opposed local projects of recent years, and a project that, if it had been used, would almost surely lead to further sprawl. I know that MoCo is making some progress in key areas: smartgrowth plan in White Flint, trying to move forward with the Purple Line. At the same time, it really seems to be lagging. There's nothing wrong with learning from the successes or mistakes of others. I find fault in what I see as the low priority assigned to what I'll call non-auto transportation.

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