Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bicycle Master Plan update is an opportunity for Four Corners

Tomorrow is national Bike To Work Day, and as part of the festivities, Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson will be attending an event to speak about the county's upcoming Bicycle Master Plan update.  The county last updated its bike plan in 2005 with the Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan.  The official process of updating the bike plan will begin on July 1st of this year, and it will focus on evaluating new facilities such as buffered bike lanes, bike boulevards, and secure bicycle storage facilities.

Montgomery Planning will begin work on the Bicycle Master Plan on July 1st.

This plan is an opportunity top demand better bike facilities, as well as a chance to draw attention to ones that have already been planned but have yet to materialize.  For example, a shared-use path along University Boulevard through Four Corners has been on the books for at least a decade, but no progress has been made or attempted to bring that idea to fruition.  While previous plans have included good ideas like this, there are still other things that should be planned and executed to make biking a safer and more viable travel option around Four Corners.

Proposed bike facilities in Four Corners from previous Master Plans.
Image from Montgomery Panning's interactive map.  

Here in Four Corners, we should take advantage of this update to improve our bike infrastructure, which aside from the Sligo Creek Trail and a few signs/road markings, is virtually non-existent at this time.  The Four Corners intersection is within 2 miles (a very reasonable biking distance for most people) of downtown Silver Spring and all of the amenities it holds, yet there is no easy or safe way to get there via bicycle.  One can either ride on dangerous arterial highways like Colesville Road, or take a meandering and hillier route through neighborhoods.  Neither of those options are acceptable for place that is within a bikeable range of so many amenities and destinations.

The Bicycle Master Plan update is our chance to demand adequate bike facilities.  Both Colesville Road and University Boulevard should have buffered 10 foot wide side paths for cyclists and pedestrians to travel along arterial highways without endangering themselves.  There should be a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Beltway between Blair and Indian Spring so that those on foot and bicycle do not have to deal with poorly designed Beltway ramps and the narrow sidewalks along bridges (not to mention all the wind and noise that accompanies a highway interchange, which alone is a big enough deterrent to walking or biking for many people).

Ideas like these should not be looked at as "nice to have" things, but rather, as necessities that should have been built back in the 1950's and 60's when our arterial highways were tripled in size and the Capital Beltway constructed.  Adding quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to our major roads should be seen as correcting for past failures and mistakes, not as some kind of optional luxury that we get around to eventually.
I look forward to this planning process and I intend to be as involved as I can.  More info about the plan can be found on the Planning Commission's website, as well as social media.  The bike plan even has its own twitter handle; @MCBikePlan, which will provide updates throughout the process.  I encourage everyone living in Four Corners to try to get involved, or follow along with the bicycle plan's progress, as this plan could mean great things for our community if we make them happen.        



  1. Great post. I think another idea to include would be a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Northwest Branch somewhere between the Beltway and US 29. This would connect Four Corners with the new White Oak developments. It would also allow cyclists to use more residential roads instead of the situation now where cyclists are forced to ride in car traffic along US 29 if their route happens to cross the Northwest Branch.

  2. Thank you for such informative blog post. If i am allowed to mention that coming up with a bridge that the pedestrian and the bicycle somewhere close to northwest branch.

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