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Planning Department Responds to County Council Committee at First Work Session for the Bicycle Master Plan

Recommendations and cost of plan discussed at work session held by Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee on September 17

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is making progress on the Bicycle Master Plan for Montgomery County through work sessions with the County Council.

On Monday, September 17, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and Montgomery Planning staff met with members of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee to discuss various aspects of the forward-thinking plan.

“This plan uses some of the most sophisticated analytical tools ever used for bicycle planning,” says Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “One of the objectives of the plan is to make bicycling a real mode of transportation for more county residents. Our data-driven approach to the plan’s recommendations show that safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure currently is lacking to connect people to their jobs, school and recreation – it’s an equity issue and one that can be solved with this plan.”

Some of the topics discussed at the T&E Committee work session included the following:

Cost of the plan: The Bicycle Master Plan is intended to be implemented over a period of decades, in large part through including new bikeways as a component of other road and private development projects. Current cost estimates associated with the Bicycle Master Plan are not realistic in assuming every bikeway will get built as stand-alone projects funded by local government.

Implementation of the plan: The Council T&E Committee was complimentary of the Bicycle Master Plan goals but directed staff to remove target completion dates with each of the stages of the plan.

Safety as a top priority: The Bicycle Master Plan is entirely based on making bicycling safer and less stressful. Planners based their recommendations for bikeways on the level of stress in riding alongside traffic, so cyclists can get to their destinations while feeling safe and comfortable on two wheels. Right now, safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is not in place to mitigate real and perceived threats to safety. The Bicycle Master Plan is the first plan to include recommendations for reaching Vision Zero goals – an initiative adopted by the County Council to eliminate traffic-related deaths and severe injuries by 2030. The Bicycle Master Plan is designed to accommodate cyclists at all ages and bicycling abilities.

Montgomery County becoming a world-class bicycling community: The wide roads and heavy traffic in the county are accounted for in the plan with recommendations for different types of bikeways. The Bicycle Master Plan breaks new ground in transportation planning through its data-driven, evidence-based strategies. The plan paves the way for changing our car dependency by recommending a connective bicycling network that allows more options than driving. It will serve as a national model for similar plans.

Need for a Bicycle Master Plan: Bicycling is a healthy activity in addition to providing environmental benefits in reducing the use of fossil fuels. It can improve our quality of life. About five percent of the county’s adult population does not have access to a car and riding a bike allows them to get to work and daily destinations and in low income areas it is even higher. The Bicycle Master Plan recommendations include goals addressing equity and metrics to provide connectivity for traditionally underserved populations.

The T&E Committee’s next work session on the Bicycle Master Plan is scheduled for October 1 and will focus on specific bikeway recommendations.

About the Bicycle Master Plan

Launched in 2015, the Bicycle Master Plan proposes a low-stress bicycling network that encourages more people to ride a bike in Montgomery County. It recommends an array of bikeway types, including separated, buffered bike lanes and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities at transit stations. The network will be developed using an evaluation of the varying levels of stress imposed by traffic on cyclists along each roadway in the County.

Community meetings held throughout the county during the three-year development of the plan allowed participants to comment on how the bicycle connections in the county could be improved. Many of those suggestions were recorded on digital feedback maps and were considered as the new Bicycle Master Plan was drafted and refined.

Questions or Comments?

Contact: David Anspacher, Planner and Project Manager
Telephone: 301.495.2191