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At the second event of the Rethink speaker’s series, Casey Anderson of WABA and Richard Layman of Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space talked about making (or trying to make) the suburbs more bike friendly for cyclists, both commuters and recreational riders.

Anderson has interviewed 10,000 federal employees about their attitudes and experiences and found some not surprising stats—potential riders are afraid of car traffic, and some surprising ones—even those who would never consider riding a bike think it’s worthwhile to invest in bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Anderson says the take-away for policy-makers and politicians is that this is not flaky, the community will support this investment.

Layman is seeking to make cycling “irresistible,” and emphasized that a bike-friendly cities like Portland or Amsterdam are created by “breakthrough decisions” and “incremental steps,” and that this can take 40 years. So it’s past time to start.

So rather than lamenting lost opportunities, what are the connections we can make in our plans, policies, maintenance and management structures that will build a long-term commitment to making Montgomery safely and enjoyably bike-able?

2 Responses to “Rethink Infrastructure”

  1. Dan

    I think basic maintenance of paths, roads, and sidewalks can go a long way. I like to bike to work. I have a choice between a bike path and sidewalks (the street is a bit too dangerous for me on my route). It was impossible to bike for over a month after the snow storms. The Capitol Crescent trail was not deemed worthy to shovel. The sidewalks were also impassible because the city put 6ft+ piles of snow on the sidewalks. Even when it melted to a manageable level, many people didn’t bother to shovel and the county had no visible enforcement or even encouragement. Even now that it’s all gone, the sidewalks are covered with sand and dirt of the road that increase the risk of skidding and makes biking more dangerous.

    Unfortunately, I think the county is going the wrong way on this. From my understanding, the dirt parts of the Capitol Crescent trail have lost all maintenance funding.

    In a world with unlimited budgets, I’d talk about all the great places to put bike paths and make traffic lights friendlier to non-cars, but I just don’t see that happening soon. The one thing I could realistically see happening (if the purple line is built) is the trail next to the line. One request I have for the trail is to maximize the bike/pedestrian entry points. If one can only enter at the train stops, it will have limited practical utility. Any road cross or place abutting on public land (and even some private late with willing owners) has the potential to be an entry point. This isn’t something I’ve seen discussed in the plans so far, but I think it should be.

  2. David Anspacher

    Bicycle and pedestrian access points are an important component of the Capital Crescent Trail and you’re right, if access points are provided only at stations, fewer people will be able to use it easily.

    The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is identifying and designing as many access points as possible. They’ve already identified points at non-station locations including Elm Street Park, Pearl Street, and Lynn Drive, East-West Highway, Sleaford Road, and Kentbury Drive in Bethesda, and Jones Bridge Road, Rock Creek Trail, and Stewart Avenue in Silver Spring. These locations are illustrated in the recently approved Planning Board Purple Line Functional Plan:

    Additional access points will be considered, but there are some constraints. First, MTA is striving to provide grade-separated crossings and access points that do not require trail users to cross the tracks in areas where safety may be an issue. In these latter instances designers will have to determine if the crossing can be designed to meet acceptable standards – given many other potential considerations such as the need for additional right-of-way, which may impact homeowners, businesses, and/or park land.