Oct 212012

What is the best way to bike in the Georgia Avenue corridor from the Matthew Henson Trail crossing to Forest Glen Road?  As with the proposed Rt. 29 corridor route, Montgomery County DOT is planning to post bike route signs along the best Georgia Avenue corridor route and is asking the cycling community for input.  The goal is to sign a network of routes criss-crossing the county.  The only route they’ve signed so far runs from Potomac to Colesville via Tuckerman Lane and Plyers Mill Road among other streets.  Cyclists following the routes are expected to be comfortable riding on secondary streets or roads with shoulders or wide lanes.

The county proposes two Georgia Avenue corridor routes, one connecting to Forest Glen Road west of Georgia (at Forest Glen Metro) and one connecting to Forest Glen Road east of Georgia.  Below is the west side route with one major modification. I removed the shortcut through Wheaton Plaza to avoid the treacherous mall entrance at Reedie Drive, and instead shunted cyclists to the other side of Georgia (on Amherst), which adds one major traffic light.  See the map here which is easier than reading all this.

  • South on Georgia Avenue (either sidewalk)
  • R on Niles Street
  • L on Holdridge Road
  • L on Urbana Drive
  • R on Flack Street
  • L on Judson Road
  • R on short off-road path near Georgia Ave
  • R on Randolph Rd (south side sidewalk)
  • L on Grandview Avenue (ignore one-way when coming back)
  • L on Reedie Drive
  • R on Amherst Ave
  • R on Plyers Mill Road
  • L on Hutting Place
  • R on Haywood Drive
  • L on Darrow Street
  • R on Gardiner Avenue
  • L on Kimball Place
  • R on Darcy Forest Drive
  • Arrive at Forest Glen Road at the Forest Glen Metro station

This route “features” a wrong-way section of Grandview Avenue, a bad sidewalk on Randolph Road, and an 8-turn labyrinth south of Plyers Mill Road.  DOT is only adding signs, not making any improvements like bike lanes.

As for DOT’s proposed route on the east side of Georgia Avenue, it’s a bit tricky at Woodland Drive which doesn’t connect to Medical Park Drive.  To get to downtown Silver Spring you’re probably better off taking the western route above and crossing I-495 on the bike/ped bridge on the west side of Georgia.  Alternatively you could use the Sligo Creek Trail (or parkway) instead of Woodland Drive to get to Forest Glen Road and Silver Spring, as shown here.  But that’s a little longer than DOT’s proposed route in terms of distance to Silver Spring.

So here’s the east side Georgia corridor route proposed by DOT (starting at Plyers Mill Road; north of there it’s the same as the west side route).  See the map to avoid reading all this:

  • L from Amherst Avenue onto Plyers Mill Road
  • R on Bucknell Drive
  • Jog L on Evans Parkway
  • Continue onto Medical Park Drive
  • L on Woodland Drive (doesn’t connect; use Georgia Avenue sidewalk? TBD)
  • Straight on path through General Getty Neighborhood Park
  • Continue straight on Woodland Drive
  • Arrive at Forest Glen Road east of Georgia Avenue

Here’s another twist.  From the Matthew Henson Trail to Reedie Drive (the northern part of the corridor route), there’s an alternative route that lies further to the west near Connecticut Avenue.  It avoids sidewalks and one-way streets and only adds about a half mile, but it misses the Glenmont Metro station and couldn’t really be called a Georgia corridor route.  It may eventually be part of a Connecticut corridor bikeway.

Provide input via the comments section here, or send it to me.  (Your first comment is moderated.  After that you may comment freely).

Jack Cochrane

Chair, MoBike



  10 Responses to “What is the best Georgia Avenue corridor bike route?”

  1. I would propose dropping the east side route as redundant, and too confusing with the “go around” at Medical Park Drive.

    I would modify the “west side” route to by turning left from Grandview onto Arcola, crossing Georgia Ave. on Arcola, then following Amherst south to Plyers Mill. This avoids the confusing Westfield Mall area and the one-way section of Grandview. It is unacceptible to route cyclists against one-way traffic on Grandview.

  2. But Arcola is more arterial in nature than Reedie or Blueridge, don’t you think? I thought going through the Wheaton triangle might be a plus, but maybe it’s too much for many riders.

    What if Grandview had signs saying cyclists could go against the flow?

  3. Jack,

    I agree with Wayne in this alternative approach. Arcola and Amherst is much better than sending bike traffic into the Wheaton downtown/triangle area, where there are so many more threats/risks. If cyclists see Arcola as too arterial or busy, they can take the county sidewalks (shelter I offer my slower riding partners when needed and available). Arcola is four lanes between Georgia and Amherst. And, Arcola west of Georgia is relatively quiet.

    As far at the east option, south of Wheaton– I believe the state/county could work to get a path/trail right of way through private property allowing a reasonable non-Georgia alternative. From Dennis to Woodland Dr. there are a number of properties that can be considered if a direct link is sought. From Medical Park Dr. to Woodland or to Brisbane, only a few yards of private property prevents connectivity. And, pedestrians/cyclists currently navigate through there as it is possible to do so.

    There is also a pathway (off road) connecting Amherst through the Evans Parkway Park (or a right of way along that route if formally not parkland yet). This could be upgraded sufficiently. Then it is possible to get over to Barrie and Dennis, go through the Dennis Avenue health center to the top (south) of that property connecting through a pedestrian gate to the office parking lot on Medical Park Drive.

    The Evans Parkway Park and the Amherst right-of-way, surely, is county land, the Health Center maybe too. The county may be able to route a shared use path with rights of way, one only meters in length, obtained from two private properties… on or adjacent to Medical Park Drive. This would open up a reasonable Georgia-aligned path that would be of great value to those of us biking and walking regularly in the area.

    In other words, with little cost and effort the county to could make a viable Georgia alternative work if there is the will to do so.

    Clark Forden

    • Clark, thanks again for your comments. For now, assuming the county can’t yet make any physical changes along the east side of Ga. Ave, how do you think the signs should take you between Amherst and Forest Glen Rd east of Ga?

      • East side, here is a take. http://goo.gl/maps/4bblW
        But, to get to Silver Spring, or even the Metro Branch Trail/CCT, I will tend to use Sligo Creek Parkway path or road. The latter, using this route on Brookville, though there are a number of variables available from Georgia to MBT/CCT. http://goo.gl/maps/65xO1

        A combined “south of Wheaton” E/W to Forest Glen could go like this… Evans Parkway/Drive crossing of Georgia is not signaled so Dennis is used here… http://goo.gl/maps/nPYRG

        The latter is probably the most direct from Amherst to F Glen.

        I will not go into West side Georgia options as I recommend staying away from Westfield Mall and the Wheaton Triangle area anyway… for a set pathway.


  4. Jack,

    You mentioned, ” The only route they’ve signed so far runs from Potomac to Colesville via Tuckerman Lane and Plyers Mill Road among other streets.”

    I have two comments on this:
    1. Are you sure this is the only route signed in the county? I’ve seen evidence on westbound Calverton Blvd, just east of Cherry Hill. There is a Bike Route Ends sign there. I find it strange as I’ve not seen any other signage in the area. And, as an aside, this sign is confusing. Motorists might think that cyclists are no longer welcome on the road as the route ceases at this point. I simply find it humorous, a single sign in the middle of “no-where”.

    2. Starting at Colesville,for the Potomac/Colesville route, there is a route sign that points in a direction different than the route you’ve posted here. It points to Eastwood to the right, not Southwood to the left, as marked on the map. I’ve followed the sign to Eastwood and found myself off-path with no signs to show the correct route west. Then, after a number of attempts, I started to use Southwood and found it was a better route, though I admit not having an opportunity or the need to follow the route further as designed to see how it further stood up for signage. Someday, I’ll follow it through Dennis/Plyers Mill towards home in Wheaton Bus District and see how it works. What is the sense of a signed route if it is not reviewed by its designers, quality assured? I know of other errors in this route’s signage that was corrected.

    Who should be contacted about correcting the misdirected sign at this stage?

    Thanks for your considerable dedication to this important subject.


    • Thanks Clark. There are absolutely other roads with “bike route” signs and some might even have multiple signs that keep you on track (though many seem disjointed and random to me). But these are supposed to be longer routes meant as “spine routes” (though I don’t think they’ll be called that publicly) with defined start and end points and coordinated signs that list destinations and mileages to each.. Eventually I want to see route numbers and that will set them apart from other (shorter) routes. The idea of mile posts will probably have to be abandoned because a given route might be signed in phases. More later.

      • I like the idea of route numbers, but would prefer route names such as “White Oak – Wheaton” or “Forest Glen – Aspen Hill”. This gives the rider the info they need, though not necessarily direction, on the spot… without relying on a map.

        I really want a White Oak – Wheaton route that does not rely on Rt 29. At least one bike crossing of the North West Branch park north of Rt 29 where bikes are presently not allowed. To force my slower family riding to one sidewalk on Rt 29 is not fair, nor attractive.

        BTW, I asked the county to clear the vegetation from the famous Rt 29 solo sidewalk going through Northwest Branch Park. It was overgrowing 2/3rds to 3/4 of the sidewalk. Making it less attractive and much more dangerous. That was last week. Let’s see if they take care of it now and regularly going forward.

    • The route west from the Eastwood/Southwood intersection follows Eastwood to Dennis Ave and then you turn west on Dennis. One missing sign is enough to screw up the whole route. If you contact Rob Elder at MCDOT he is the point of contact on bike route signage right now. He’s at rob.elder@montgomerycountymd.gov . I remember there was a missing sign at that intersection and thought I’d told them, but maybe not. There are a couple other places with either too few signs or signs that make it look like you should turn when you shouldn’t. Help in scouting problems is much appreciated (we’re the QC apparently). If you point out sign problems, cc me if you would! I’m at webgecko@earthlink.net .

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