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should I be worried

Yes. This basically gives drivers everything they want: cyclists are segregated into the gutter, and if we cross the little white line, drivers feel entitled to run you down.

[rest of comment removed by Washcycle]

Thank you.

As an occasional contributor to the blog, I would appreciate a more respectful level of debate, IBC. I didn't post the original posting otherwise I'd log in and delete your comment. Jack has voluntarily advocated for better bicycling in Montgomery County for years, and has had successes we all have benefited from. You can disagree, but there is no need for name-calling. Better yet, you can take the time to build the relationships with the county and spend the hours in public meetings and have your say. I'm sure Jack and MOBike would love some help.

should I be worried

I'm a bit concerned about this as well. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but in Maryland aren't 3ft or wider shoulders regarded the same as bike lanes, and cyclists mandated to be in them when present? Given the state of neglect of the sidepath, I can't imagine routine maintenance would keep potholes filled and debris swept enough to make it usable by a lone cyclist, let alone the group rides that travel through there. Whatever plan does take shape should also address this or you simply run into the same problems again.

From the airport in Denver, ibc I'm editing your post. This is a first for me.

I second everything Jeff says. Jack makes an enormous contribution to the efforts of cyclists in MoCo county. And you're more than welcome to get in there and get involved. Believe me, he is well versed in the goals and needs of cyclists. You may disagree with his opinion that the Bikeway will be better with than the status quo. But that's your opinon and you know what they say about opinions.

I believe these shoulders are not wide enough to be required use by cyclists. One of the worst area laws in my opinion and one I sure Jack would agree should be changed.

why can't they build a physically separated bikeway and put it on an extended out sidewalk and sacrifice some of the road surface? And why does the cyclist in the photo need all of that stupid looking racing combat gear? He needs to get him on an ergonomic "sit up & beg" bicycle, and he needs to stop trying to race with the cars to prove his manly prowess.... .

Ok, suitably chastised. Now having said that, this will increase the chances of me and those close to me will either stop riding this crucial cycling route, or expose ourselves to greater danger.

This "plan" turns MacArthur into a bike ghetto. It encourages *all* drivers to pass within the safe 3-foot margin--not just the rare anger management case. It effectively bans group rides on this route as you've pointed out.

Anyone who supports this plan--whether professionally, or in a volunteer capacity--is actively working against the interests of cyclists.

What's next? New plan for Rock Creek Park: paint the right-hand lane stripe green, widen it to three inches, and call it a bike lane? The car commuters would love it.

you need to go to Europe and see real bikeways. Painted stripes on a road where cars & trucks are going is not standard in most of the world- only here where only the craziest and most daring cyclists dare to go. Bikeways need to have curbs , stanchions or other suitable physical barriers to separate us from pedestrians and motor traffic. If you are a racer techno -jock maniac, disregard this and continue on your fun, but ultimatly suicidal path trying to get cars to "share the road" [ god that is an impossibilty in 99% of America I'd like to know who invented that term of destruction].Racers , mountain bikers and other Kamikazes need to keep to the roads and not get in the way of safe cycling infrastructure that everyone else needs in this god forsaken car -oriented country.

If you are a racer techno -jock maniac, disregard this and continue on your fun, but ultimatly suicidal path trying to get cars to "share the road" [ god that is an impossibilty in 99% of America I'd like to know who invented that term of destruction]

And yet, per vehicle mile, cycling on the road is *safer* than driving an auto. It's one thing to live in fear; it's another to live in fear against all reason.

"Kamakazi techno-jock maniac"... is just silly.

Maryland law lumps shoulders and bike lanes together. If they're there, cyclists have to use them. The only difference is that bike lanes have standards and shoulders don't.

As to this new shoulder: my expectation is that once it is built there will be tremendous pressure to force cyclists to use it, both through political pressure and vigilanteism. Hell, there's already a lot of vigilanteism on MacArthur.

I don't see much hope that that cyclists won't be forced to use the shoulder. There are two possible arguments for that position. Maryland law has an exception for "hazardous condition." While a lot of cyclists feel that a shoulder only three feet wide presents a "hazardous condition," that argument is going to be a total non-starter with a court. Were talking about a facility that was designed and built by professionals for the sole and specific purpose of providing a place for cyclists to ride.

The other argument is a little more interesting: it may not be a shoulder. Maryland law has a curious definition of shoulder: "that portion of a highway contiguous
with the roadway for the accommodation of stopped vehicles, for
emergency use, and for the lateral support of the base and surface
courses of the roadway." Under that definition, a portion of the highway set aside for the use of cyclists does not qualify as a shoulder. However, I wouldn't be surprised if a judge decides to use a "common sense" definition and say, in effect, a shoulder is like pornography, I know it when I see it.

There is a good likelihood that this matter will end up being litigated. I'm not optimistic that cyclists will prevail.

However, it's a bit over the top to say this is the end of group rides. Just ride single file.

The physical fact reached in compromise with the stakeholders in arriving at this plan of action, is 2 EXTRA FEET OF ROADWAY IN EACH DIRECTION. I could wish for enforced speed limits, I could hope for the original request of 5 foot shoulder lanes, I would really like some respect. Until there is a paradigm shift in american transportation modes, I can accept a little more space to negotiate my path along the roads. Perhaps our population will double again in the next 30 years and bicycles will.......


First, I thank jeff and Washcycle for their support! Sorry if I don't respond to ibc's first post for obvious reasons (for those who read the original version).

As for MacArthur, there's a lot of history. Cyclists have been complaining about the narrow conditions there for many years, long before I got involved. Cyclists who commute on MacArthur in rush hour were especially unhappy with the situation. So they lobbied the county and after many years were finally successful in getting the county DOT to support 5' bike lanes.

But Glen Echo and the local neighborhoods hotly opposed the bike lane idea, fighting against any kind of extra width on MacArthur for all the reasons neighborhood usually oppose width (other considerations notwithstanding). There also were serious cost issues having to do with foundation under the pavement. It was clear that widening by 10' was likely to be killed by the Council or DOT. So to avoid this, WABA, a very young MoBike and I'm pretty sure PPTC identified a more modest solution that would add 2' on each side while reducing the travel lane width by 1' in deference to neighborhood concerns over car speed. It was a compromise. Yes, the original solution was a lot better but it wasn't in the cards. Another option which I personally slightly prefer is to widen the road to 13' on each side but NOT paint the stripe, so you just have 13' lanes. We could even paint (gasp!) sharrows. However that would reopen the whole can of worms with the neighborhoods.

Ultimately the rationale for MoBike's and WABA's support of this project is this: The cyclists who have been weighing in on this issue since long before I was doing this, including the 2004 hearing, have strongly supported adding more width on MacArthur. Are we to ignore that? There's a large demographic that wants extra width on two-lane arterial roads. They include both transportation cyclists and fast training riders, but maybe more of the former. They want to be able to ride in the road in peace without feeling like they're at the head of a paceline of cars that can't pass. Even the AASHTO bike facilities guide (used by just about every DOT in the U.S.) supports narrow shoulders over none at all. The idea is that it's safer for everyone if cars don't have to cross the center line to pass. Of course lots of cyclists keep their head down without getting involved, but on this issue there have been at least two public hearings, some council sessions on it and multiple informational meetings as well as press coverage, just since 2003. Bike groups have sent out alerts. I'd also say that for every cyclist who might hate the modifications so much they avoid MacArthur, I believe there will be several more who will start riding in the road, many coming from the path (where I see fast riders mixing with pedestrians). Yes, 13' is tight. It's really the bare minimum. It's not perfect by any means. But it will get more people out there and provide relief for those who use MacArthur and want the width today. But I'd like to hear about alternatives and suggestions. Seriously, I would. Despite this project being partly through design, it's far from being built. They're still having hearings after all.

While this isn't really a bike lanes vs. wide outside lanes debate, I'm sure you're all aware of that issue. I've tried very hard to steer MoBike away from that running feud. Personally I'm not totally on board with the pro-bike lane camp (I usually like riding in the travel lanes), but bike lanes have various virtues and I recognize that many people prefer them so they greatly encourage bike use, plus they keep the travel lanes narrower which urban activists want. MoBike fought bike lanes on Norfolk Ave. but supported them in many other places – it's a tool, not a one-size-fits-all solution. Believe me, I've heard all the arguments on both sides. If it were up to me, I'd want to see lots of bike lanes but also lots of roads and areas where cyclists could ride without any bike lanes. But I hate being dogmatic about it. What is really most harmful is when bike groups tear themselves apart over this. I haven't seen that happening in D.C., thank goodness.

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