The Carl Henn Millennium Trail along East Gude Drive is a notably unsafe and unappealing section of that well-used trail. But it would be much improved if the county could convert it into a legitimate two-way cycle track with a separate sidewalk (like on Woodglen Drive in White Flint). More realistically, it could be reconfigured as a sort of pseudo-cycle track that permits pedestrian use.
Two problems contribute to the lack of safety on the Millennium Trail between Rockville Pike and Norbeck Road:
- Lack of a safety buffer or barrier between the trail and the street
- Many busy driveway crossings, often in very close proximity to each other
As shown here, there simply isn’t enough separation between the trail and the street:
Multiple driveways to the same businesses could be combined:
Gas station entrances could be made safer through better pavement markings and signs:
The Millennium Trail is an important route for cyclists riding north and south through upper Rockville but want to avoid Rockville Pike. It’s especially useful for riders coming from Gaithersburg via Crabbs Branch Way who want to reach downtown Rockville or use the Rock Creek Trail to continue south.
Perhaps the most feasible option is to upgrade the trail to look like a two-way cycle track (though still a shared use path), borrowing key features that generally make two-way cycle tracks safer than sidepaths. Those features would include:
- A barrier or buffer between the trail and the street
- Prominent green painted crosswalks
- Reduced number and width of commercial driveway crossings
- Possibly a center line
- Prominent signs and markings
Separating bikes and pedestrians would be ideal, but then you’d have to figure out where to put the sidewalk. It would be difficult to find room for a buffer between cars and bikes, let alone a separate pedestrian facility. In any case, possibly part of the roadway could serve as a safety buffer from cars, by adding a shoulder or even relocating the curb. At one point the county was considering a road project to improve East Gude Drive, which would provide a good opportunity to make changes of that nature.
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