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

June 4, 2018

Council will hold public hearing on the Planning Board Draft before voting on the plan in the fall

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), 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 Comcast 6, RCN 6 and Verizon 30 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. The deadline to sign up to testify is on July 9 at 10 a.m. 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.

Speakers are requested to bring 15 copies of their testimony to the hearing, and to provide a written copy 48 hours in advance of the hearing by email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

The goal of the Bicycle Master Plan is to make Montgomery County a world-class bicycling community. The plan sets the stage for a cultural shift, encouraging people of all ages and bicycling abilities to meet their daily needs by bicycle in a safe, comfortable and accessible manner throughout the county.

View the Planning Board Draft of the Bicycle Master Plan.

Background on Bicycle Master Plan

The Bicycle Master Plan paves the way for safe, comfortable and accessible bicycling throughout Montgomery County. The plan is a comprehensive overhaul of the 1978 Master Plan of Bikeways, 2005 Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan and all bikeway recommendations in past master and sector plans.

The goals of the plan include:

  1. Increasing bicycling rates in Montgomery County.
  2. Creating a highly connected, convenient and low-stress bicycling network.
  3. Providing equal access to low-stress bicycling for all members of the community.
  4. Improving bicycling safety.

Appropriate bikeways are recommended according to the level of stress experienced by cyclists in response to vehicular traffic on each road. On busy roads, bicyclists will have dedicated space separated from traffic. On residential streets, they will be able to comfortably share the road with automobiles.

Concept of low-stress bikeways

One barrier to bicycling is what is known as “traffic stress.” People who tolerate a high level of traffic stress are comfortable bicycling on most streets, including highways. These so-called “strong and fearless” bicyclists account for about 7 percent of the population.

Those who tolerate a moderate level of traffic stress are comfortable bicycling on highways and arterial roads that include bike lanes. These “enthused and confident” bicyclists account for about 5 percent of the population.

Cyclists who tolerate a low level of traffic stress are comfortable riding on residential streets, trails and roads with bikeways separated from traffic. These “interested but concerned” bicyclists account for about 51 percent of the population and include children.

New bikeway facility classifications

The Bicycle Master Plan proposes a new bikeway facility classification system for Montgomery County. This system organizes bikeways into five facility types based on their level of separation from traffic.

Trails are the bikeways most separated from traffic.

They include off-street trails, stream valley park trails and neighborhood connectors. They are located outside of the road right-of-way and provide two-way travel for bicycling and walking.

Separated bikeways include sidepaths and separated bike lanes. They also provide physical separation from traffic and are generally considered for roads with three or more lanes, posted speed limits of 30 mph or faster or in commercial areas.

Striped bikeways include buffered bike lanes, conventional bike lanes, advisory bike lanes and contra-flow bike lanes. They are distinguished from traffic lanes by striping and pavement markings.

Bikeable shoulders of at least four feet in width can improve comfort for some bicyclists. They are most appropriate in rural locations, often where posted speed limits are 40 mph and faster.

Shared roads are the least separated from traffic and include shared streets, priority shared lane markings and neighborhood greenways. Space on these bikeways is shared by bicyclists, cars and vehicles.

Innovative outreach for the plan

Since the Bicycle Master Plan was launched in 2015, the planning team has held numerous community meetings, community bike rides and other events to engage the public.

In addition, innovative outreach efforts were developed to engage more people throughout the county. They included a photo contest, online feedback maps and a coloring book to illustrate the key concepts of the low-stress network recommended in the master plan.

The Planning Department is pleased to announce recent recognition by the Hermes Creative Awards for the Enjoy the Ride coloring book. The book is a fitting communications tool since the goal of the plan was to create a low-stress bicycle network and coloring has been shown to be a stress-relieving activity.

Digital feedback maps, including the Cycling Concerns Map allowed stakeholders to comment about safety, connectivity and any other concerns related to bicycling. The award-winning Bicycle Stress Map was launched in April 2016 to document the stress levels encountered by cyclists on county roads and intersections, and allow cyclists to better understand road conditions in the county.

Since introducing the Bicycle Stress Map, planners determined that about 75 percent of county road miles are suitable for most adult bike riders. But only 17 percent of actual trips can be completed on a low-stress network due to the inability to reach key destinations, such as jobs, stores, schools or transit hubs, without extensive detours or the need to travel on higher-stress roads.

Contact project manager David Anspacher at david.anspacher@montgomeryplanning.org or 301-495-2191 for more information.