For a little over a year now, the Montgomery County Planning Department has been working on an update to the County's Bicycle Master Plan.
The plan will focus on developing a high-quality / low-stress bicycle network, bringing bicycle recommendations in line with industry best practices, and consolidating all bicycle recommendations into a single plan for the first time since 1978. An emphasis will be placed on evaluating newer facilities, such as separated bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities.
Though I haven't written about it much, this is a really big deal. The Framework report follows the Scope of Work - approved last September - and lays out four goals, as well as ideas about how to achieve those goals and how to measure whether it's working. The goals are
GOAL 1 Increase bicycling trips in Montgomery County.
GOAL 2 Create a highly connected, convenient and low-stress bicycling network.
GOAL 3 Provide equal access to low-stress bicycling for all members of the community.
GOAL 4 Improve the safety of bicycling.
There are a lot of recommendations being considered for the Master Plan.
One idea is to include two-way separated bikeways on both sides of the street on roads that meet a list of criteria. "Rockville Pike in North Bethesda’s White Flint area is perhaps the quintessential example of a street that is well-suited to a two-way bikeway on both sides of the street."
There are also some recommendations being considered for shared, signed roadways.
The Working Draft of the Bicycle Master Plan will make the following recommendations for signed shared roadways:
• Eliminate signed shared roadways, including those with wide outside lanes, as a bikeway facility classification. (wide lanes tend to increase automobile travel speeds and may make bicyclists less comfortable next to higher speed traffic than on a similar roadway with standard width lanes)
• Include bikeable shoulders, neighborhood greenways and shared streets as bikeway facility types.
• Continue use of wayfinding signs, regulatory signs (such as “bikes may use full lane”) and pavement markings (such as sharrows) as implementation tools for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), but not master planning tools.
• Encourage MCDOT to develop a comprehensive wayfinding plan.
• Encourage MCDOT to develop a sharrow policy.
The Working Draft will recommend higher design standards for sidepaths and will discontinue use of dual bikeways (a sidepath next to a bike lane or shared road) as a facility classification and instead refer to their individual components, such as separated bike lanes, bike lanes, sidepaths and shoulders, to better communicate the actual bikeway facility type recommendation.
In suburban locations, bike lanes should be eliminated if space is needed to implement a high-quality separated bikeway with wide adequate separation from the road.
The Working Draft of the Bicycle Master Plan will consider recommendations for bicycle parking stations at all major existing and planned high-quality transit lines, including the Red Line, Brunswick Line, Purple Line and future bus rapid transit stations, it will include recommendations about how to improve the quality of bicycle parking in the zoning code and it will reclassify existing and master-planned sidepaths as wide sidewalks in areas with high pedestrian volumes and with higher density land use (such as commercial areas) and will not carry them forward as bikeways. An alternate bikeway recommendation will be considered in these locations.
The planning board will review the report this Thursday and the public is invited to testify at that time.