Bill Michie presented MoBike’s testimony at the County Council hearing tonight regarding the county’s proposed FY13-18 Capital Improvements Program (aka the capital budget). Below is MoBike’s testimony, and WABA’s testimony is on their site. For more information about the county budget, see this post.
To the Montgomery County Council,
We are Montgomery Bicycle Advocates (MoBike), an organization dedicated to supporting the needs of bicyclists throughout Montgomery County.
We have reviewed the County Executive’s proposed FY13-18 Capital Improvement Program and are encouraged that some bike-related projects will be moving forward, albeit with some delays. We appreciate the funding provided for both standalone bikeway projects and for accommodations provided as a part of road projects.
However, it’s a serious shortcoming of the CIP that it provides no funding whatsoever for the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The Met Branch Trail is the single most important new bike and pedestrian project in the county right now and it’s the linchpin to making Silver Spring a bikeable community . Funding must be provided for this project to move forward as quickly as possible. There are many steps of the project that can be carried out in the early years of the CIP without having to resolve all the questions related to historic preservation.
Another concern we have is that the CIP would cut the Annual Bikeway Program by 10% (while the Annual Sidewalk Program remains funded at 2011 levels). This program is relatively small at $550,000 per year and it funds only projects costing less than $300,000, but it provides significant benefits. Trimming it back would be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The program is used to fix trail gaps, design better roadway striping and make other small improvements that offer excellent bang for the buck. It facilitates many projects that might otherwise go unfunded due to their size, and it affords DOT and the bicycle community greater flexibility in selecting projects in a short time frame.
We’re very excited that BikeShare is coming to Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville and surrounding areas as early as this year. This could significantly change how people view transportation in these communities – if bike infrastructure improvements can keep up. You only need to make one quick bike tour around these areas – as county officials did last year – to see that improvements are needed. So we request a concerted focus on these communities, including additional county funding aimed specifically at these communities (aside from the City of Rockville), so that we can make them places where almost anyone can ride. The result of such a focused effort would be a transformation of how people get around our central business districts.
We will continue to work with the Department of Transportation to make sure other projects move forward. DOT needs to accelerate completion the Bethesda Trolley Trail, especially the land acquisition required to finish the trail near NIH. The county must continue making progress on the Bradley Boulevard Bikeway and the trail along the Intercounty Connector.
MoBike (Montgomery Bicycle Advocates)