Jan 012012

Links in this entry were updated Feb. 20, 2014; Rockville links tend to get out of date.

The City of Rockville is updating its 2004 Bikeway Master Plan. For more information see the information page regarding the update.

As part of this effort, Rockville has convened a citizens’ work group to guide planners as they revise the plan (I’m a member of the group).  They’ve also engaged Toole Design to assist with the revision.  Toole is the conulting firm based in Laurel Silver Spring that specializes in bikeway planning and design.

The city has a strong record of bikeway planning.  The 2004 bikeway plan was well-conceived, and unlike many jurisdictions, Rockville actually implements the recommendations in its plans within a reasonable time frame.  The city has many things going for it:

  • It’s ahead of many other communities (such as Gaithersburg) because it already has several good trails (Rock Creek Trail for example) and many roads that are bikeable.  Possibly it has fewer constraints like lack of space next to roads.
  • It essentially has three Metro stations: Rockville, Twinbrook and Shady Grove.  Transit encourages bike transportation and vice versa.
  • It has elected officials and a transportation department who take bicycling seriously.
  • It has an effective bike advisory committee (RBAC).    RBAC discusses ongoing projects and issues and provides input to city planners.   It also organizes events and rides.   Anyone who wants to attend RBAC may do so.

So Rockville has been able to accomplish a number of things, including the following:

  • Interactive and printable bikeway maps.
  • The city has several bike-oriented programs, everything from teaching school kids bike safety to DriveLessRockville.
  • Rockville (together with Montgomery County) plans to expand Capital Bikeshare in and around the city under a special grant.
  • The city has completed much of its shared use path network.  It completed the Millennium Trail since the last master plan.  It constructed the Sister City Bridge over I-270.
  • Rockville has added bike lanes to various streets and is now adding sharrows on some roads.
  • The city has put up color-coded bike route signs around the city.

See Rockville’s official bikeway page for more on its efforts for bikes.

Next post: What new ideas should the revised plan incorporate?

  13 Responses to “Rockville Master Plan update, Part 1”

  1. Jack – I agree, Rockville has done an admirable job improving bike access. Something I’d add to their list of accomplishments: providing bike slots in speed bumps!! like on Manakee St. seems like a no-brainer, but not done in the county. I’d like to see improved bike access on Gude end-to-end, the millenium trail DOES NOT cut it for vehicular cyclists. Needs WIDE, built-to-standards bike lanes. I’m NOT going to share a lane with a gravel truck, and I’m not going to trust my luck that motorists understand (and ANTICIPATE) my being in the middle of a travel lane on a 45+ mph road. Not being able to use Gude effectively presents a barrier to cyclists. Same with Wooten Pkwy: Unacceptable that cyclists have to use 1-sided sidepath or tough it out with fast, aggressive traffic. Tower Oaks is a huge lost opportunity, the sidepath is really a sideWALK. Reminder (as if one is needed) traffic speeds are much higher on lesser-utilized roads. Forget what’s posted. And thanks for taking this up the food chain….

    • I’m not going to post our whole Rockville scouting report until I check with all the scouts, but regarding Gude Drive, we wrote:
      “East Gude Drive (and Millennium Trail). This is a dangerous stretch of trail due to the number and arrangement of commercial driveways crossing the trail. If nothing else, egresses should be reduced and better organized. For example, in the 1000′ between Southlawn and Dover, there are five driveways for just two parking lots/properties. The county has a road widening project between Southlawn and Crabbs Branch in facility planning ( http://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-DTE/Common/Projects.aspx?id=509337-05&DatabaseType=SQL&section=Facility%20Planning ). One of their two alternatives is to widen the trail and the sidewalk on the opposite side. MoBike will be recommending further outside lane widening (to 15’+), path widening on both sides, and improvement of driveway crossings (and could use Rockville support!).
      A direct connection from Dover Road to Gude Drive near Rt. 355 would be very helpful and more direct and safe than the Millennium Trail for Lincoln Park residents. What is the big open field north of Lincoln Park?”

    • Regarding Wootton Parkway, our scouting report said:
      “Wootton Parkway. We measured the width to be 26′ where it’s two lanes (near Wootton High School for example). That is not enough width for sharing with cars, as was clear from the cyclist we observed. We considered the option of calling it a shared roadway and painting sharrows. For me (Jack) that would be a last resort because of the lack of width. The Millennium Trail is parallel in any case.”

      I am resigned at this point regarding Wootton Parkway west of Falls Road. Widening roads is expensive and the MIllennium Trail there isn’t nearly as bad as it is on say East Gude Drive. I’d be surprised if the county still does the Gude widening in today’s budget climate.

      We didn’t look at Wootton Parkway east of Falls Road or at Tower Oaks. They should be measured and then we can comment.

  2. Toole Design Group is now based in Hyattsville MD, near the PG Plaza Metro station. They are no longer based in Laurel.

  3. I strongly disagree with the recommendation of wide (15′ +?) outside lanes on Gude, if the objective is bicyclist accommodation. 15 feet is NOT wide enough to share with a big truck. And E. Gude has lots of big, super-heavy (ie: difficult to maneuver) trucks servicing the businesses located there. Unless and until we have a mandatory-change-lanes-to-pass law for trucks, I want a separate lane. Forget ‘take the lane’, I’m sick of being told that drivers will respect it and change lanes, when that is patently not true. Of course, re-organizing the driveways would help ALL traffic along that stretch. I’d rather have an access road, at least you’d know who was about to turn/enter/exit.

    • Good points. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “something is better than nothing”, then ending up with a substandard facility… like maybe the 13′ we’re getting on MacArthur?

  4. Not like. MacArthur is open section, no trucks, 30 mph speed limit. There is no comparison with Gude.

    • The question with MacArthur (which I’ve asked before) is this… Is it appropriate to provide extra space for bikes if the changes still aren’t adequate? On MacArthur the plan is to take a 22′ wide road (two 11′ lanes, no curbs) and add 4′ of pavement so it has two 10′ lanes and 3′ shoulders (still no curbs). I was enamored with the idea once.

      In another situation, on Battery Lane they installed bike lanes that don’t have enough width and therefore force riders into the door zone (though they do actually meet AASHTO standards).

      • The shoulders on MacArthur are not putting anybody in a door zone, because there’s isn’t any parking. Or, only in a very few places. Rather than assuming that every road can be built or modified to current standards, how about making the best of a constrained situation? The fact is, where there already are narrow shoulders on MacArthur, they serve to alleviate the worst of the contention for space between cars and bikes. That they do not meet the requirements of racing packs, is a different issue altogether. And, just as you have given up on Wooten Parkway west of Falls Rd, I am resigned to the fact that MacArthur will never support all recreational group cyclists during periods of heavy commuter traffic. However, I do expect that the proposed shoulders WILL improve car/bike co-existence for many of the rest of us.

        • I’m just saying that a 3′ shoulder next to a 10′ lane is probably going to be very narrow and uncomfortable and probably even dangerous when a car passes you.

          • OK, then back to Gude…why is a 15′ lane being proposed to accommodate bikes? If 13′ is too narrow on an open section road with no trucks, how can 15′ possibly be enough with big truck traffic, curb and gutter, speeds 40+ mph?

          • You’re right that 15′ isn’t wide enough. You’re right that it will probably do more harm than good. 15′ is inconsistent with my comments about other roads. If anything they shouldn’t waste their money to widen it to 14′. There is no MoBike recommendation to the county yet. I told Rockville we would support 15′ (and no one raised any concerns) but I can see that’s inappropriate. Sometimes I feel we (advocates) are still in search of a definitive policy. Width issues are becoming more and more common, starting with development of new county road standards (“Road Code”) in 2007.

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