Mar 302015
 

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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Feb 052015
 

Click for Google street view

Developers looking to rebrand the White Flint area with a memorable new name decided to call it the “Pike District”.  Say what?

(April 23, 2015 update: The Pike District now has a logo, discussed here).

The White Flint area, up to and including the area around Twinbrook Metro, is being transformed into into a walkable, transit-oriented urban center offering a thriving mix of retail and housing.  I don’t understand why anyone would want to rename it after a congested six-lane arterial road.   To me the “Pike” – Rockville Pike – conjures up visions of endless strip malls, intolerable traffic and anti-pedestrian conditions, an image we should be trying to get away from.  Cyclists avoid the road and pedestrians fear it.  I don’t see anyone renaming Tyson’s Corner after unappealing Leesburg Pike.  Yes, Rockville Pike will serve several modes of transportation, but it will still be one of the least appealing roads in the White Flint sector, not something we want to highlight.

The name “Pike District” seems to violate several rules of marketing.  For one thing, it fails to distinguish the “product” from similar products.  The name is geographically vague and could just as easily refer to any development along Route 355 or even Columbia Pike.  It certainly does not evoke the urbanist character of the development.  It’s confusing too.  People from outside Rockville may think the “Pike District” is a mere 300 feet wide.   Ultimately the name may hinder the project’s intended goals.

Granted, the district presents some inherent naming difficulties, since it includes development as far north as Twinbrook Metro, not just the White Flint area.  It’s unclear how people will refer to the White Flint and Twinbrook halves of the corridor individually.  But there has to be a better name than “Pike District”.

Developers appear to have done their due diligence, hiring the consultant StreetSense and letting the community have considerable input.  Among the builders are Federal Reality and JBG, enlightened supporters of walking and bicycling.  But the naming effort was hindered by disagreement among the developers, some of whom refused to keep the obvious name “White Flint”.   Ultimately they presented the community with ten names at a public meeting where attendees could support their favorite names.  The names were a motley assortment: Rocksy, The Stem, Market District, Uptown, Slate District, Rockline, Quartz District, The Summit, Pike District and Metropolitan White Flint.  Only one, Rockline, conveyed the idea of transit. Perhaps it’s inevitable that selection by community consensus would result in something plain and unmemorable, similar to how home sellers paint rooms a neutral color to appeal to a majority of buyers.  At least the name is authentic – the area is centered around the Pike after all.

One developer reassured me that neighborhoods can continue to use the names they’ve always been using.  There will be no “Pike District” postal designation.  He noted that the name is intended primarily for marketing purposes, like the term “I-270 Technology Corridor”.  But with newspapers already using the name, I think it will become ubiquitous.  A better process (as if we could get anyone to go through this again) would be to hold a countywide naming contest and publicize it through the media and in schools. It shouldn’t take more than a few rounds of public participation to trim the list of submissions down to the best 100 names, then 20 names, and finally 1 name.  Call it an old-school form of crowd-sourcing.

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Jan 132015
 

Montgomery County is looking to construct a cycle track (aka protected bike lanes) on Woodmont Avenue between Old Georgetown Road and Bethesda Ave.  The project would allow cyclists to ride either north or south on Woodmont in some combination of cycle tracks and conventional bike lanes.  See this detailed analysis of the various options.  Much of Woodmont is a one-way street, so any facility allowing northbound travel would be a definite improvement, protected or otherwise.

A key question is what will the rest of Woodmont Ave look like?  What bike accommodations will it get?  I’m referring to the half-mile long stretch of Woodmont Ave from Old Georgetown Road to Battery Lane, which is a two way street.  The future design has to be anticipated by the current project.  No project is an island (unless of course it is).

Woodmont Ave as it looks today:

I came up with three bike options, shown in these representative cross-sections:

Choose carefully!

(Feb. 24, 2015 update. A fourth option, conventional bike lanes, is depicted at the end of this post).

To cut to the chase, the first option among the three above – a two-way cycle track – is the weakest for significant safety reasons and because of ramifications further south.  The second option – a pair of one-way cycle tracks – is the best protected solution, but requires removing two lanes somehow.   The third option, bike lanes on one side and sharrows on the other, is in all likelihood the best solution that only requires removing one lane, but it will intimidate some riders.

The street today

The segment of Woodmont between Battery Lane and Old Georgetown Road is 48.5′ wide (including gutters) everywhere I measured it.  It generally has five lanes.  There are two main travel lanes in each direction.  There is a center lane that serves as a turn lane with the occasional median island in the way.  In many stretches, one or both outer lanes are used for parking.

There are several parking lot or garage entrances on both sides.  Within the segment (excluding the endpoints) there are four cross streets on the west side, three on the east side.  Four of the intersections are signalized and three are skewed at a 45-degree angle.  Many people might feel uncomfortable biking there, but I would not characterize riding there as daunting or dangerous.  Traffic generally does not move quickly and blocks are short.  But it’s possible that drivers wouldn’t be able to pass a cyclist right away.  With simple bike lanes, cyclist comfort levels would increase quite a bit.  The county master plan calls for bike lanes on all of Woodmont  (presumably cycle tracks would qualify).

Road diet?

I would imagine the county is amenable to removing one of the five lanes in order to provide bike accommodations.  Removing two lanes would take more lobbying, but would free up space for conventional bike lanes or one-way cycle tracks.  It’s certainly doable, since the turn lanes could be shortened and on-street parking provided wherever there’s no turn lane.  Or the street could be re-conceived to look more like Norfolk Ave (but with parking on only one side), with stop signs in place of traffic signals, reducing the need for turn lanes.  (I can relate two harrowing experiences at intersections there as a pedestrian – both involving drivers ignoring signals but and none involving stop signs.  Does no one stop before turning right on red any more?)

But if only one lane can be removed, there would only be room for either a two-way cycle track or a hybrid of a conventional bike lane on one side and sharrows on the other, similar to the original Woodglen Drive proposal (the two roads have almost identical dimensions).

Comparison of the options

A one-way facility type north of Old Georgetown Road (one-way cycle tracks, bike lanes, sharrows or sharing the road) would allow for a better configuration south of Old Georgetown Road under the current project.  The facility could be one-way all the way from Bethesda Ave to Battery Lane, requiring no transitions at all!  Another point is the fact that the south configuration must be “backward compatible” with the existing north configuration as well as support the future north configuration.  If the existing north configuration and the future one are both one-way bikeway types, the south configuration only has to interface to one north configuration.

But the biggest strike against the two-way cycle track solution is safety. Riders would have to cross a great many parking lot exits and weirdly-angled side streets while riding in the “wrong” direction from a driver’s perspective.  He or she would have to ride very slowly and cautiously, since just one driver who failed to look right as well as left could ruin the cyclist’s day in a big way.

If there’s an upside to the two-way cycle track option (assuming it’s on the west side), it would be that it allows more convenient access to the Norfolk Ave street grid and the Bethesda Trolley Trail, which are located west of Woodmont.

A pair of one-way cycle tracks is a much better option.  Even it has some negatives, however, like the awkwardness of making left turns and the likelihood of pedestrians in the cycle track.  It’s quite possible that the volume and speed of traffic on Woodmont Ave does not justify the impact on bicyclists. But if the goal is a protected facility, it’s the best option.

If the county can’t find a way to remove two lanes from this five lane road, then the bike lane + sharrow solution is the best in terms of safety and speed, even if it’s not the most “protected” or comfortable for some riders.

I haven’t considered the option of providing a two-way cycle track south of Norfolk and standard bike lanes/sharrows north of Norfolk.  It might be acceptable if the transition can be worked out, providing a safer facility north of Norfolk while keeping the better bike access to the Bethesda Trolley Trail associated with a two-way cycle track leading up to Norfolk.

Feb. 24, 2015 Update:

I just want to highlight an additional option, which is to provide standard bike lanes while still retaining continuous parking on one side.

In this case the lanes are quite narrow, but it does meet county width standards and keeps cyclists out of the door zone.  Buses are as wide as 11′ so you’d quickly realize how tight this is.  Striping crews also routinely paint lines 3-6 inches off target, so some lanes might be narrower than intended.

A similar solution is being provided on Clinton Street in Concord, NH, which carries 11,000 vehicles a day.  Some parts of Clinton St. are being striped with a 5’ bike lane/shoulder against the curb, 10’ through lane, 9’ left turn lane, 10’ lane through lane, 5’ bike lane, and 10’ right turn lane against the curb (Woodmont would have a 7′ parking lane instead of the 10′ right turn lane).  According to the bike planner there, it works because there isn’t much turning traffic, allowing left-turning vehicles to encroach into the center lane.  Google maps shows the current but not yet completed configuration.

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Jan 112015
 

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is considering construction of a cycle track, also known as protected bike lanes, on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda.  The project would require removal of one lane (often used for parking) between Old Georgetown Road and Hampden Lane.  The county is suggesting a two-way cycle track on the west side of Woodmont, but this might not be the best option.

Montgomery Co. DOT Woodmont cycle track concept (actual design to be determined) cited in Bethesda Magazine

On a two-way street, one-way cycle tracks are superior to two-way cycle tracks because they make for much simpler intersections and avoid putting cyclists on the “wrong” side of the street (going the wrong direction for the side of the street they’re on, catching drivers by surprise).  On a one-way street, a two-way cycle track on the lefthand side may be suitable, but not in the case of Woodmont due to other considerations.

After some consideration, I recommend that the county:

Any solution must factor in what the bike accommodations will ultimately look like on Woodmont Ave between Battery Lane and Old Georgetown Road, even though it’s not part of this project.  The county master plan calls for bike lanes on all of Woodmont (presumably cycle tracks would qualify).  The total width is only 48.5′ wide including gutters, so the county would have to remove 2 of the 5 lanes to create room for conventional bike lanes or one-way cycle tracks.  This is certainly possible, as parking could be removed wherever there’s a left lane, or stop signs could replace the signals so that turn lanes are not required.  But if only one lane can be removed, options are limited.  There would be room for a conventional bike lane on one side and parking + sharrows on the other, similar to the original Woodglen Drive proposal (the two roads have almost identical dimensions).  This would in all likelihood be safer than a two-way cycle track.  But a “protected” facility is desired.  So for purposes of this article, assume there will be a two-way cycle track on the west side of Woodmont Ave north of Old Georgetown. For more discussion of this segment, see this post.

Where to put the one-way to two-way transition?

Assuming that a west-side two-way cycle track is the choice north of Old Georgetown Rd and conventional bike lanes are provided south of Hampden, the problem can be viewed as a question of where to make the transition from a pair of one-way bike facilities to a two-way bike facility.  To keep the cycle track(s) one-way as much as possible, provide straightforward access to Metro, and be backward-compatible with the existing Woodmont configuration north of Old Georgetown, I chose to place the transition at the Old Georgetown Road intersection, shown below.  It can rely on existing signal phasing but does require some extra buffering and a new curb cut at the southeast corner.

If the cycle track isn’t extended north of Old Georgetown Road for some time, northbound cyclists would just follow the blue line above.  So putting the transition at Old Georgetown is “backward compatible” in the sense that until such time as the cycle track is extended, there doesn’t have to be a transition at all.

If a transition at Old Georgetown isn’t workable, the transition from one-way to two-way cycle track could work at Edgemoor Lane, North Lane, or Montgomery Lane instead (not Hampden Lane).  But these three options would force northbound cyclists to ride the “wrong” way for some distance and force them to make two transitions to continue north of Old Georgetown Rd for the time being (until the cycle track is extended north of OGR, which might not happen for some time if ever).  Transitioning at Montgomery Lane has the advantage of being very quick and simple (crossing Woodmont might even be quicker than going straight since there’s only one lane to cross).  But then northbound cyclists trying to get to Metro would have to cross Woodmont again only a block later or else ride on the sidewalk.  (A transition at Montgomery would already need signs and pavement markings to convince bicyclists to turn left in order to go straight, so additional signs telling Metro-bound cyclists to actually go straight via the sidewalk might add confusion).  The transition could be placed at North Lane instead, which is a relatively simple intersection with good sight-lines, but the two-way cycle track segment would still cross multiple driveways on the west side and wouldn’t quite reach Edgemoor, where cyclists might want to turn right.  Putting the transition at Edgemoor Lane would address the latter issue but it’s a more complex intersection than North Lane, possibly requiring signal changes, and it still leaves one dicey driveway to cross (at the gas station) and the compatibility issue at Old Georgetown.  The further north the transition is placed, the less “wrong” way riding is required.  It’s worth noting that northbound riders going the “right” way (on the east side of the street, that is) may catch drivers emerging from the parking garages on the east side by surprise, so safety is not guaranteed.   Nevertheless it makes more sense to put the transition at Old Georgetown Road (and then the transition doesn’t have to be provided at all until the cycle track is extended north of that point).

If the transition is placed at Montgomery Lane, the curb extension should be modified to allow cyclists to easily mount the sidewalk to get to Metro or, if they prefer, turn right on Montgomery towards East Lane and Wisconsin Ave.  A contraflow bike lane would be welcome addition on East Lane which is a one-way street away from Metro.

Here’s the Old Georgetown Road if the transition is further south, but it works well only if the cycle track is extended north of the intersection:

Which side should the two-way cycle track be on?

The other question is which side of Woodmont Ave to put the two-way cycle track on where it is two-way.  North of Old Georgetown Road, I recommend putting it on the west side to connect better to the western portion of Norfolk Ave (the route to the Bethesda Trolley Trail) and other streets in the Woodmont Triangle grid.  South of Old Georgetown Rd, putting the cycle track on the east side would make for some very awkward transitions.  So the west side makes much more sense.

SEGMENT DETAILS

From Old Georgetown Rd to Montgomery Lane

Throughout this segment, Woodmont Ave is 50′ wide including gutters.  There are four southbound travel lanes.  North of Edgemoor Lane, the existing lane widths are 14’, 11’, 11’ and 14’, respectively, and parking is permitted off-peak in the right lane.  South of Edgemoor a bike lane appears and parking is not allowed.  There are various driveways, garage entrances and side street crossings within this segment.  At Montgomery Lane, the two left lanes must turn left.

Here is our first choice – one-way cycle tracks:

Why one-way?  See the discussion above, “Where to put the one-way to two-way transition”.  If any part of this segment is to have a two-way cycle track however, it should be on the west side like this:

The picture below shows what cycle tracks would look like on the east side. This nominally puts cyclists on the “correct” side for a two-way street, but the transition at the south end would be very awkward, so this solution should be rejected.

From Montgomery Lane to Hampden Lane

Most of this segment is 36′ wide, with two southbound through-lanes, a left turn lane, and a southbound bike lane.  A curb extension narrows the road to 28′ briefly before the the left turn lane begins.  Regardless of what’s done north of Montgomery Lane, the clear choice for this block is one-way cycle tracks, shown below along with the bike lanes south of Hampden.  (Note: This shows the one-way cycle tracks continuing north of Montgomery, but they don’t have to; it depends on the solution north of Montgomery).

Putting the cycle track on the west side in this block would force cyclists to cross to the other side of Woodmont at Hampden Lane. Cyclists would have to be protected from oncoming traffic (even cars turning left, which would come too close) with a left turn signal phase, and even then they’d have to be wary of drivers coming from behind and turning left – hardly a “protected” facility. So this isn’t a good option:

Putting the cycle track on the east side would yield this even worse crossover at Hampen Lane, forcing cyclists to cross two streets unless a dedicated bike signal phase were provided. Either way, it would make cyclists wait a long time at what is currently a very simple intersection. This is a poor option:

Hampden Lane to Bethesda Ave

South of Hampden Lane, cycle tracks would be problematic.  Pedestrian behavior tends towards anarchy there so it would be impossible to keep pedestrians out of cycle tracks, which would have to be placed between parking and the curb due to save space.  The intersections are already complicated by frequent turning movements, disappearing turn lanes, very short blocks, a major trail crossing (soon to be a cycle track itself) and odd angles.  The skewed Bethesda Ave intersection is a six-way monster junction.

But the following bike lane improvements are needed:

  • The existing bike lanes are much too close to parking, with a combined 12′ bike lane + parking width on each side.  It’s compounded by high turnover parking, valet use and general hub-bub.  Instead provide a 7′ parking area, 5′ bike lane, and a 3′ buffer in between.
  • To make room for this, the three travel lanes should be narrowed to 10′.
  • The two southbound lanes approaching Elm must be re-designated as a left-turn-only lane and a through/right turn lane, respectively, to eliminate the daunting crossover between the bike lane and the righthand lane.
  • The northbound bike lane should be shifted away from the curb north of Elm to eliminate right hooks, with lots of green paint applied to guide cyclists through the intersection.

Here is the current configuration (dated drawing, not guaranteed to be exact).  Curb-to-curb width is 50′ between Hampden and Elm, 60′ south of Elm:

Below is our proposed configuration south of Hampden. The bike lanes are improved, the travel lanes are narrowed, and the lane designations are changed.

There are many things to consider!

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 Posted by at 12:21 am on Jan 11, 2015  Comments Off on Woodmont Ave cycle track options
Jan 102015
 

Statement by MoBike (Montgomery Bicycle Advocates) on cycle tracks:

Cycle tracks, sometimes called separated or protected bike lanes, are one of the most promising new bike facility types to be implemented in the U.S. in recent years. Because cycle tracks physically separate cyclists from car traffic, they appeal to the “interested but concerned” category of bicyclists who would ride their bikes more if they felt safer doing so. The societal benefits of getting more people using their bikes for transportation, as well as the prospect of fewer deaths and injuries, make it worthwhile to provide cycle tracks in many contexts.  However, they are not completely without drawbacks, as noted below, so their suitability should be determined on a street-by-street basis.  To summarize, MoBike enthusiastically endorses cycle tracks as a facility type to be used where warranted.

One-way cycle track on one-way L St NW, D.C.

The distinguishing feature of cycle tracks is the physical barrier they place between bicyclists and car traffic, whether it’s a vertical barrier such as flexible posts or parked cars or a simple difference in grade provided by a curb. The barrier gives many riders the perception that they are safer than they would be in conventional bike lanes or standard vehicle lanes.  This perception is often reality, since the configuration prevents or deters drivers from encroaching into the cyclist’s area and usually increases the distance between cars and bikes. Even experienced bicyclists may think twice before using conventional bike lanes on fast, busy roads, so cycle tracks can make these roads more comfortable for all types of riders. Cycle tracks can also make it possible to ride in both directions along a one-way street.

Cycle track between the curb and sidewalk with painted crossing in Cambridge, Mass.

Cycle tracks are often superior to shared use paths running closely alongside a road. They generally do a better job alerting drivers that they’re crossing a bike facility, by virtue of positioning or special intersection treatments such as green paint and warning signs. A one-way cycle track allows bike travel in one direction only and is located on the same side of the street as vehicle lanes carrying traffic in the same direction. Shared use paths, on the other hand, allow cyclists to ride in either direction on one side of the street, a riskier configuration because cyclists riding against the flow of adjacent car traffic can catch drivers by surprise at intersections. Because cycle tracks are dedicated bike facilities, conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists may be less common than in shared use paths, so they’re often a better choice than paths in urban areas where pedestrian volumes are higher. Cycle tracks are more flexible than paths in that they can be implemented either between the curbs or on the sidewalk side of the curb.

Left turn from one-way cycle track in San Fransisco

Like any bicycle facility type, however, cycle tracks have weaknesses as well as strengths. Their biggest weakness may be that riding in them often takes more time and is more awkward than riding in conventional bike lanes or travel lanes. Executing certain turns from a cycle track can be a time-consuming process, requiring riders to cross an additional street or wait at an additional red light. The barrier that keeps cars at bay may also prevent cyclists from shifting from the cycle track into the travel lanes, a maneuver used when preparing for a left turn or avoiding an obstruction. And while pedestrian conflicts are less frequent in cycle tracks than on shared use paths, walkers do wander into cycle tracks, undermining their utility. Some pedestrians don’t even realize they are standing or walking in a bike facility. Cycle tracks placed between parallel parking and the curb are especially prone to pedestrian conflicts as people load or unload their cars or walk to the curb. Cyclists have to ride slowly to anticipate such conflicts where they’re likely to occur.

Cycle tracks may require more space than conventional bike lanes, depending on the street configuration.  However, it may be possible to place the cycle track on the sidewalk side of the curb where it doesn’t compete for space between the curbs as a conventional bike lane would.

Two-way cycle track on two-way 15st St NW in D.C.

Two-way cycle tracks along two-way streets have some additional drawbacks. Generally speaking, these facilities are less safe than one-way cycle tracks because, like roadside paths, they put cyclists traveling in two directions on one side of the street (except when the cycle track is in the middle of the street).  This results in half the cyclists riding against the flow of adjacent car traffic, surprising drivers accustomed to looking in certain directions for vehicles. Intersections involving two-way cycle tracks are more complex than those involving one-way cycle tracks and may require special accommodations to guide cyclists through the intersection and minimize conflicts.  Sometimes dedicated bike signals are warranted.  Where a two-way cycle track begins or ends, cyclists heading in one direction must cross the street to continue, requiring similar measures. If due accommodations aren’t provided at intersections or transition points, cyclists are forced to improvise, possibly making the facility less safe than conventional bike lanes.  Also, two-way cycle tracks can reduce access to one side of the street if the rider must make a U-turn and double back on the side without the cycle track to reach his or her destination.

Two-way cycle track on two-way street in Seattle with dedicated bike signal (click for Google street view).  The driver is disobeying the red arrow signal.

Cyclists who choose not to ride in a cycle track may face hostility from drivers who wonder why cyclists can’t use the obvious facility provided specifically for them. Cycle track signs, bollards and paint send the message that cyclists are supposed to stay in their own area. But often the very space that would allow drivers and cyclists to share the road without conflict has been eliminated to create room for the cycle tracks. Riding in the road allows cyclists to take advantage of design features and protocols that have evolved over a century to facilitate efficient, orderly movement of vehicles – things like through-lanes, turn lanes, and well-understood rules of right-of-way.  Cycle tracks can undermine this option.

Shared use paths may be more suitable than cycle tracks in some contexts, such as to fill gaps in hiker-biker trails that children and other inexperienced riders are likely to use.  Cycle tracks often require riders to interact with car traffic, obey novel pavement markings, improvise at intersections, be wary of parked cars, and generally be alert and keep moving, whereas paths are more tolerant of mistakes and casual stops.

Providing both a shared use path and conventional bike lanes – a so-called dual facility – can be a good alternative to cycle tracks on some streets.  Experienced cyclists who would benefit from a faster facility may use the bike lanes while riders who prefer greater separation from car traffic may use the shared use path.

Two-way cycle track on one-way Penn Ave in Pittsburgh

Ultimately the decision of whether to provide a cycle track instead of another facility type requires an evaluation of whether the benefits relating to comfort, overall safety, and increased bike use are outweighed by the cost to cyclists in terms of travel time and intersection safety. Cycle tracks do not fully protect bicyclists at intersections, a common site of bicycle crashes, and some designs actually increase the risk at intersections, whereas riding in the roadway puts cyclists where drivers approaching an intersection already look for vehicles – in the road. However, perception of safety may be almost as important as reality. Increasing the level of bike use makes cycling safer on all roads, not just roads with bike accommodations, since there is indeed safety in numbers. So on roads where traffic is fast and busy, cycle tracks may be the better solution. On a minor street where traffic is tame, cycle tracks might not offer enough benefit to justify the drawbacks. The facility decision may depend on who is likely to use the street – inexperienced riders or people who bike every day. Increased comfort may encourage cycling among some users, while extra travel time may discourage it among others. On some streets, adding cycle tracks might not be possible without creating terribly awkward intersections or putting cyclists too close to opening car doors. Bad cycle tracks are worse than no cycle tracks, and there are other facility types in the tool kit. In addition, external factors like impact to pedestrians must be considered.

Finally, whenever cycle tracks are installed in the county, DOT and other stakeholders should conduct a “lessons learned” analysis to see what worked and what didn’t and make recommendations accordingly.

So to reiterate… MoBike enthusiastically endorses cycle tracks as a facility type to be used where warranted.

MoBike (Montgomery Bicycle Advocates)
January 10, 2015