The Gazette reports this week that Shared Bikes Could Come to Bethesda. Cities around the world and around the country are finding thatÂ bike share programs add a new level of livability and possibly contribute to reducing traffic congestion.
While it could be fun to just bike aroundÂ Bethesda, the proposedÂ bike station could be the start of a bike share network throughout the County. Why not pick up a bike in Bethesda and pedal down to Friendship Heights or Silver Spring. I can imagine small fleets of biking scientists pedaling from Bethesda to NIH.
Bike sharingÂ could also be the start of thinking about suburban transportation in a broader way. It doesn’t have to be solely about congestion. Some congestion is inevitable, but even moreÂ is inevitable if we don’t think about our individual trips differently, and as a community think about serving walkers, cyclists, and transit riders, as well as drivers.
The Planning Department’s forthcoming Mobility Access Report recognizes the need to move beyond measuring auto congestion and takes an initial step with a bicycle “heat” map that estimates where people might want to go on their bikes, whether it’s commuting or recreation.Â The reportÂ will also propose ways to gather data about bike use that will contribute to understanding how get around now and how we could in the future.
The Montgomery Civic Federation is hosting a conference featuring planners, the Parks Department, County agencies, and bicycle advocatesÂ to discuss just what it will take to make Montgomery bike-friendly.
This is a BYOB (bring your own bike) event, so pedal on over and find out what policies and projects are being considered.
Bike sharing isÂ a natural for Miami Beach. Yup, even in a place where Lamborghinis jostle with Bentleys in the public parking lots, a bike is cool.
The island is flat, warm, laid out in a gridded street pattern, and partially ringed with off-road bike routes that pass by a marina, Government Cut, South Pointe Park, and the beach. If you live and work on the Beach, a $15.00 monthly Deco Bikes membership gets you unlimited access. If you’re a tourist, just swipe your credit card, choose a bike, and pedal off.
The docking stations are located all over the island, and I wonder if there will be an obvious pattern of use. In Montreal, Bixi bikes all go downhill with commuters in the morning, and are trucked back up to the Plateau after rush hour. Tourists tend to be more unpredictable than commuters.
The recently approved Germantown Sector Plan recommends greenways along Observation Drive and Crystal Rock Drive that would connect Black Hill Regional Park to the Town Center. Itâ€™s a good fit on streets that already have wide sidewalks, buffers, and stormwater management facilities.
Sounds like a great feature, one that creates a distinctive roadscape, creates a desirable recreation feature that also works for bicycle and pedestrian transportation, and can be implemented at the same time road and site improvements are made.
Fitting recreation into existing infrastructure and making that infrastructure do double duty is a sensible approach, given not only public sectorâ€™s fiscal limits, but our increasing interest in sustainability. Just google greenways and youâ€™ll find lots of communities pursuing them one link at a time.
- Knoxville has more than 41 miles of paved greenways.
- Central Indiana has 59 miles of trails, with plans for a 200-mile network.
- New York CityÂ has three greenway trails, including the Hellfighter mountain bike trail in Highbridge Park. Â (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridgepark).
- Nashvilleâ€™sÂ expanding greenway system (overseen by a private, not-for-profit group) includes the 810-acre Shelby Bottoms Park along the Cumberland River.
These communities, whether dense and urban or suburban,Â recognize the dual nature of a greenway; that it is a natural place, with a transportation and recreation function. They use them to connect neighborhoods and to create transportation routes.
So how does MarylandÂ address greenways? The priority seems to be using them as environmental resources. Click through to Montgomery CountyÂ and youâ€™ll see that most of the greenways are based in the natural environments of the stream valley parks, but include recreation and transportation corridors like the Capital Crescent Trail.
The Maryland Department of TransportationÂ has completed a state wide bike route survey (nearly 70 percent of Montgomery and Prince Georgeâ€™s County state roads earn a grade of C or lower for user comfort) and has programs to retrofit streets with bike improvements. It also â€śshares responsibility for building and enhancing many of the Stateâ€™s long-distance trails and greenwaysâ€¦â€ť.
By starting in one placeâ€”natural environmentsâ€”and morphing into anotherâ€”recreation and transportation are we fully thinking out the benefits of each, and where they complement and conflict?
BixiÂ is Montrealâ€™s homegrown rental bike system. Designed to serve tourists and residents with more than 5,000 bikes distributed through the city, the program is a real commitment to urban biking. Price and convenience contribute to their use and the system is well-managed to local habitsâ€”bikes are trucked around the city to ensure their even distribution after rush hour trips downtown.
But I think the real reason people bike in Montreal is the 502 kilometers of bike lanes and bike routes. Some are painted on the street, some run through parks, and some are separated by curbs, but all are well-respected and well-used.
And, Bixi is coming to Washington DC and Arlington,VAÂ this fall.
What are the Bixi opportunities in Montgomery County? I can easily see bike stations located at Metro stations and at park/trail points like the Capital Crescent Trail, but once you get the bike, where do you go? Does anyone really want to bike up Wisconsin Avenue in its current cross-section?
Itâ€™s one thing to map the bike routes, another to ride them. As Casey Anderson pointed out in his Rethink presentation, potential riders are afraid of car traffic, but even those who would never consider riding a bike think itâ€™s worthwhile to invest in bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Bixi in the DC region may be a first step.