The Montgomery County Council just passed Bill 33-13 entitled Urban Road Standards and Pedestrian Safety Improvements. The bill makes modest changes to the county’s road design standards to make our streets better and safer places for bicyclists and pedestrians. It does this primarily by calling for measures to reduce motor vehicle speeds. County road standards are codified in laws and regulations known collectively as the Road Code. The enacted bill updates relevant portions of the Road Code, either by changing the law directly or directing the County Executive to modify relevant regulations. Here’s the executive summary of the bill’s stipulations. Through lanes and turn lanes on urban roads must be no wider than 10′ unless next to parking or a […]
Wouldn’t it be great to air a public service announcement saying why cyclists don’t stay right all the time? After all, this blog can’t reach everyone. How’s this? [Sound of driving] MAN: Hey, there’s a bicyclist. Why is he riding so far to the left? Shouldn’t he move over? WOMAN: Not if he wants to be safe. There are a lot of cars parked along the street. Cyclists should always stay well away from parked cars because a driver might suddenly open his door. MAN: Even if there’s a bike lane? WOMAN: You bet. A cyclist might also leave the bike lane to avoid leaves or broken glass or potholes or to get ready to turn left. MAN: I get […]
The Maryland Department of Transportation just issued its new Twenty-Year Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. According to MDOT: The Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan establishes a 20-year vision to support cycling and walking as modes of transportation in Maryland. The Plan provides guidance and investment strategies to support cycling and walking, both on-road and off-road, as part of Maryland’s multimodal transportation network. It’s not the kind of plan that stipulates which streets will get bike lanes and where paths will be built. Instead the plan describes the current state of affairs, identifies objectives, lays out strategies and discusses implementation. It presents a lot of useful facts as well. The plan was released January 15, 2014.
On January 15th, County Executive Ike Leggett released his recommended 2015 Capital Budget and 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), aka the 2015-2020 Capital Budget. It identifies capital project funding over the six year period starting with Fiscal year 2015 (which begins July 1, 2014). The first two years of the budget, 2015 and 2016, are the ones to watch. The other four years are “out-years” which represent intentions or best guesses but may change significantly. The capital budget is re-crafted every two years. It is amended during the other years or any other time as needed. “Capital” projects essentially involve building, creating or designing things – as opposed to operating and maintaining things which is the purview of the Operating […]
County Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer have introduced a council bill to change county road standards in urban areas to better serve pedestrians and bicyclists. Bill 33-13 seeks to 1) reduce car speeds, thereby making pedestrians and bicyclists safer, 2) stipulate certain road features to improve pedestrian safety and access, especially at crosswalks, and 3) better accommodate new technology including bike sharing. Roger Berliner briefly summarizes the bill here. Whenever roads are rebuilt or in some cases resurfaced, engineers can choose from a toolkit of improvements designed to make urban areas safer for biking and walking. The tools include everything from curb extensions (aka bulbouts or neckdowns) that make crosswalks shorter to HAWK beacons that blink when a pedestrian […]
Trail advocates have recently been pushing the county to study the idea of building hiker-biker trails in the rights-of-way of major Pepco power lines. These strips of land can be ideal sites for trails because they are generally free of development and forest cover, consist of many miles of continuous straight segments, and cut directly from community to community to create excellent connections. Montgomery County’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee (PBTSAC) has commissioned a working group of public officials and stakeholders to explore the issue. The PBTSAC may then make a recommendation to the County Executive and/or County Council. The working group met with Pepco and presented its findings to the PBTSAC last week. To sum it up, […]
Check out WABA’s summary of bike-related progress in the Maryland legislature this year. If you’re ever inclined to lament the Maryland General Assembly, be happy you don’t have to deal with the Virginia legislature.
WTOP radio aired a news story last week that made an astonishingly incorrect statement about bicycling laws in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.: D.C., Maryland and Virginia law states bicyclists can ride the center of the travel lane only if they’re going the speed limit. Even worse, it attributed this assertion (with respect to Maryland) to the Montgomery County Police Department and said bike advocates are wrong on the point. “Cyclists can’t necessarily always go as fast as traffic, but the law does give cyclists the right to use the road,” says [WABA Executive Director Shane] Farthing. But Montgomery County Police Lt. Bob McCullough, deputy director of the traffic division, says that’s not the case. Slow-moving bikes need to move to […]
Here’s the Bike Helmet Challenge. 1. Spend a week driving your car with a bike helmet with you. To make it easy, you don’t actually have to wear the helmet. Of course wearing the helmet might call attention to the irony of not requiring helmets for the biggest cause of head injury deaths in the U.S. (driving) or to the mussed hair problem. But for this challenge, you just have to keep the helmet with you in the car. 2. But when you get to your destination, you can’t leave the helmet in the car. You have to take it with you. You don’t have to have it with you at every moment… if you’re at work you can keep […]
These two bills were rejected by the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee, which means they’re effectively dead for this year: House Bill 445, which would have removed the “narrow highway” exception to Maryland’s three-foot safe passing statute enacted in 2010 (interpreted by some to mean that drivers don’t have to give three feet if it would mean crossing the centerline). See the CycleMoco discussion of this bill here. House Bill 160, which would have legalized riding bikes on sidewalks in localities with no local laws on the subject. Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard counties and Baltimore city all have local laws. Some jurisdictions, including Gaithersburg, have local laws prohibiting sidewalk riding and this bill wouldn’t change that. Jim Titus provides details […]