Four Corners actually has a few signed Bike Routes. I say "actually" because many people are unaware they exist. They run along various roads in the area, such as Dennis Avenue, Southwood Avenue, Franklin Avenue, and Brunett Avenue. I did some research on the bike routes, and I discovered that there's not much information on them. The most helpful thing I found was this map which shows bike routes and trails across the county. Everyone knows about the trails, such as Sligo Creek, Rock Creek, and the Capital Crescent/Georgetown Branch. All of these trails are well publicized, and there's lots of information online about them. However, the bike routes that connect to these trails are barely mentioned anywhere.
|Bike Route sign at Eastwood Avenue and Southwood Avenue. Photo by the author.|
I assume the reason for this lack of information on bike routes is that they're not that useful in their current state. Most of the bike routes on the map have no bicycle infrastructure whatsoever. The routes are mostly just residential streets that someone labeled as a bike route. It's almost impossible to tell which roads are bike routes and which aren't. However, maybe if these routes were publicized better, more people would start to plan their bike journeys around them.
Some of the existing bike routes are along roads that are hostile to cyclists. Colesville Road is labeled as a bike route from Lockwood Drive to Sligo Creek Parkway, and as I previously mentioned, it is one of the most unfriendly cycling environments imaginable. Another route is along Eastwood Avenue from Southwood to Dennis. This route goes up a long hill on an 8-10% grade, which does not seem that steep in a car, but it is difficult on a bike. Hills are unavoidable in an area like ours, but some are smaller than others, and those are the ones that should be used as bike routes.
The only road in Four Corners that has some form of bicycle infrastructure is Forest Glen Road. The road was repaved two years ago, and bike lanes were added to certain parts. This made Forest Glen the most bike friendly road in Four Corners. In parts were bikes lanes weren't added due to lack of space, markings known as sharrows were installed. These markings are similar to the "Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs I addressed in yesterdays post. They remind motorists that cyclists are allowed on the road too, and they also show cyclists which part of the road to ride on (or at least they're supposed to).
|Sharrow on Forest Glen Road. Photo by author.|
The best way to encourage bicycling is to give cyclists a safe, convenient, and direct place to ride, weather it is on a road or a trail. Safe, because no one want to ride in an unsafe or intimidating situation. Convenient, because bicycle facilities should not be far from most residents and they should not be difficult to access. And finally, direct, because bike lanes and trails should go to places that are already big destinations, such as Downtown Silver Spring. These facilities should not take meandering routes through neighborhoods if there is a more direct way possible. For example; the Sligo Creek Trail is great facility for recreation and leisure rides, but it does little to help cyclists commuting from Four Corners to Downtown Silver Spring because it parallels both communities instead of connecting them.