The Montgomery County Annual Bikeway Program (ABP) needs your support!
Update (March 10, 2012): WABA and MoBike just officially asked the County Executive for a 50% increase to this program. That would bring it to $825K. The budget is actually out of his hands, but he can affirm his support.
Councilmembers, please listen to the cyclists writing to you!
The ABP is a critical county program that funds small scale bikeway improvements, design work and planning studies related to bikes. Individual projects funded by the ABP must cost less than $300,000.
The ABP is highly cost-effective because it makes many small but important fixes. It funds inexpensive connector paths (like the path shown to the left) to fill gaps in the overall bikeway network, making the network much more effective for marginal cost. Some of the projects are such low-hanging fruit that it would be a crime to let them go undone for lack of APB funds. This includes re-striping existing roads to accommodate bikes — about 1/100 the cost of building a parallel bike path. It covers the cost of preparing grant applications that bring in external funds. The APB also funds exploratory design work on potential future projects, a boon to flexibility and efficiency. The fund gives DOT and the bike community the flexibility to make improvements without having to go through a big approval process.
The total annual budget for the program is $550K per year, but the County Executive’s new budget calls for this to be reduced by 9% to $500K. The cut is penny-wise but pound-foolish. It would be better to increase the program and delay an $8M bikeway project by mere months.
The name of the program is confusing because the great majority of DOT’s bike-related work isn’t done under the ABP. The county may rename it something like “Small Bikeway Projects” or “Miscellaneous Bikeway Improvements”. Let me know if you can think of a better name. Then I would use the unadorned name “Bikeway Program” to encompass everything DOT does for bikes (not a particular budget item), with its own program lead and list of projects and responsibilities.
Here’s some projects that were done (or will be done) under the ABP. (Disclaimer: The county bike coordinator just retired and her bike-friendly boss is on leave, so I haven’t been able to verify every fact here).
- Missing links & connector paths that don’t require much design. For example:
- Connector paths from the Capital Crescent Trail to Massachusetts Ave and Bradley Blvd (and Arlington Rd?)
- Connector path from the Matthew Henson Trail to Rippling Brook Drive
- Cut-through paths extending Grant St, Hempstead Ave and other Bethesda streets (I use these every week!)
- Shoulders built on Forest Glen Rd from Sligo Creek Trail to Holy Cross Hospital (last summer)
- Path along Midcounty Highway from MD 124 to Montgomery Village Ave
- Path sections to close shared use path gaps along Clopper Rd and Shady Grove Rd
- Road re-striping plans. When a road is resurfaced, DOT may reposition the lane lines to create bike lanes or wider outside lanes to help bicyclists. The ABP typically comes up with a rough layout or advises the engineers, and the DOT traffic division does the rest. Examples are:
- Shady Grove Rd bike lanes from I-270 to Darnestown Road
- Woodmont Ave bike lane redesign from Montgomery Ave to Elm St
- Cedar St contraflow bike lanes
- Executive Blvd restriping (to be determined)
- Early study of large bikeway projects. Here is one:
- Seven Locks Rd path and bike lanes – Performed initial concept design and assessed right-of-way needs before deciding to start design (facility planning) of the project. This jump-starts projects that otherwise would have to wait in a long line of projects for facility planning.
- Preliminary concept plans for grant-funded projects.
- Wayfaring signs. Continue signing countywide “spine” routes. These promote bicycling and keep people from getting too lost. A recently signed route follows Tuckerman Lane, Strathmore Ave, Plyers Mill Road and Dennis Ave
- MCBAG and staff time. The APB covers the important Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group, the county committee that serves as a liaison to the bike community, as well as miscellaneous staff time related to bikes.