Posts Tagged ‘Bikesharing’

Is MoCo abandoning the MetBranch?

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Cycle MoCo reports that Montgomery County is requesting state funding to establish BikeShare, including at Silver Spring and Takoma Park. But at the same time the Montgomery County Executive is moving to kill the only planned trail connection between Silver Spring and Takoma Park – the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

County Executive Ike Leggett has released his proposed FY13-18 CIP budget, and his budget proposes two changes for the county’s section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail:

  • All funding for r.o.w. acquisition and construction is deleted from the CIP budget.
  • The proposed route, if it is ever built, has been thrown out of the CSX corridor and across state highways.

The previous approved FY13-16 CIP budget contained over 12M$ for trail design and for r.o.w. acquisition and construction of the section of the MetBranch from the Silver Spring Transit Center to Georgia Avenue. This section of the MetBranch was to have been completed by FY16. Under this new proposed budget there is no funding for any r.o.w. acquisition or construction through FY18.

To add insult to injury, the new proposed budget also shows that MCDOT plans to change the route of the MetBranch Trail, if it is ever built. The MCDOT plan would eliminate the grade-separated trail crossings planned for Georgia Avenue and E-W Highway and instead force the trail across both of these busy state highways at-grade.

The MCDOT proposed MetBranch route down Philadelphia Avenue.
Source: Proposed FY13-18 MetBranch CIP budget

The County Executive and MCDOT want to take the trail down Philadelphia Avenue across business driveways of the many small auto repair shops along the way, and across both Georgia Avenue and E-W Highway at-grade. This proposed trail route is not new. It has been proposed by MCDOT and rejected several times at public workshops, Planning Board hearings, and County Council proceedings over the past 10 years in favor of a route along the CSX corridor with a trail bridge over Georgia Avenue and a trail tunnel under Burlington Avenue (E-W Highway).

MCDOT proposes that the MetBranch cross Georgia Avenue
at the light at Sligo Avenue.

I’ve posted here about the foot dragging by MCDOT throughout the MetBranch project history. But this new threat to the project is breathtaking in its inconsistency with the hype we are hearing from the county. Just as Montgomery County tauts BikeShare as proof of its commitment to increase cycling in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, it proposes cutting the most important cycling and walking infrastructure in this area.

The MetBranch Trail is not quite dead in Montgomery County yet. The Montgomery County Council has overridden efforts from the County Executive and MCDOT to gut the project in the past, and will have the opportunity to do so again during the upcoming budget deliberations. But this proposed budget is the most serious threat to the MetBranch Trail that I have ever seen.

Bikesharing is coming – but where is the infrastructure?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

I was unable to attend the Nov. 29 Bike Share planning workshop hosted by MC DOT, but the WABA blog post Bikesharing Growing to Montgomery County gives a good account.

A major concern I had about whether Bike Share can work in Silver Spring was whether bikeshare stations clustered around Silver Spring might be too isolated from the system in D.C. The WABA post reports that planners are addressing this:

…A side note, in planning talks DDOT has agreed to expand bikeshare stations north between the system core and the new clusters in Bethesda, Silver Spring & Takoma Park to help connect the entire system.

The public is invited to submit ideas for locations of future bikeshare stations at the Capital Bikeshare crowdsourcing map.

One important item is still missing from the plan – a serious commitment to beef up the bicycling infrastructure to make the street network more bike friendly. Much can be done with signs and paint. Bike lanes, bike sharrows, and signs marking routes and reminding all to share the road can make a difference. Yet little has been done to mark streets in the Silver Spring CBD that have long been identified in the Master Plans as on-road bike routes. Two examples:
1) Spring Street was recently restriped to narrow the traffic lanes by creating approx. 6′ wide “dead zones” adjacent to the center median in a several block long section centered at Second Avenue. MCDOT could as easily have narrowed the traffic lanes by placing them adjacent to the center median, and placing full width bike lanes on the outside.
2) When Cameron Street was restriped there was room for bike lanes, yet MCDOT instead chose to install a center turn lane that was not needed.

I am excited that MCDOT appears to be serious about bringing bikesharing to Montgomery County. Now if we can only get MCDOT to read the approved Master Plans when it restripes streets, and use stripes and sharrows to show that bikes have their place on the road.

Fenwick Station moving forward

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The future Fenwick Station at Spring Street and Second Avenue
Space is being set aside for a bike share station.
(Click on image for a larger scale image.)

Representatives for the future Fenwick Station briefed community members on the project at a November 22 meeting. The building will have 350+/- residential units and no retail. The plans call for a section of the Green Trail to be built in front of the building along Second Avenue, and an access trail to the future CCT to be built along Spring Street, see Green Trail at Fenwick Station. They will reserve space for a future bike share station at a small public plaza at the Spring Street/Second Avenue corner.

They plan to submit their site plan for approval in December and hope for Planning Board approval in April. Their contract with the Post Office requires them to give 150 days notice before the Post Office has to leave.

NiceRide, and yet another CCT

Monday, May 16th, 2011

I’m in Minneapolis for a convention – my wife’s convention, I’m the spouse free to explore the city while she works. It is ironic that I have traveled 900+ miles to get my first experience with bike share when we have the best bike share system in the nation right next door to my Silver Spring home, in the D.C. Capital Bikeshare.

Nice ride station at the University of Minnesota East Bank Campus
The Washington Ave. Bridge is in the background

The Nice ride system appears to be the same as our own Capital Bikeshare system, except that the bikes are lime green. I’m impressed with how well the system works, at least for a tourist just trying to see the sights. I’ve taken 10 rides in two days, and have found the system to be very easy to use. I’ve never found a bike station that had no bikes or no empty spaces. The only glich so far has been one station kiosk that balked briefly when I tried to exchange a bike that was nearing its 30 minute free limit for a fresh bike – and that was quickly resolved by a phone call to the trouble number displayed at the kiosk. I’m impressed, and I’m starting to think our own Capital Bikeshare system can work in Silver Spring if it has the right distribution of stations.

The east end of the two deck Washington Ave. bridge
The upper deck has an enclosed pedestrian walkway and a bike path,
Light rail construction is underway on the lower deck, left (south) side

And I’ve found yet another CCT in Minneapolis, to confuse acronyms with our own Capital Crescent Trail and the Corridor Cities Transitway. Minneapolis will soon have its own CCT in the Central Corridor light-rail Transit now under construction. Minneapolis already has the Hiawatha light-rail that extends from downtown Minneapolis south through the airport to the Mall of America. This new light-rail line will share the rail and stations with the Hiawatha line in downtown Minneapolis, then will head east across the Mississippi River on the lower deck (south side) of the Washington Ave. bridge, through the center of the University of Minnesota, and continue on to Saint Paul.

Looking west on the Washington Ave. Bridge bike path
The enclosed pedestrian walkway is on the left

Looking north from the Washington Ave. Bridge

If you are ever in Minneapolis, you should explore the Mississippi River bridges by bike. Almost all the bridges are very accessible by bike, and several have full width bike paths. The views are spectacular. We talk about “complete streets” that provide for bike and ped traffic. Minneapolis has “complete bridges”.

Looking west across the Stone Arch Bridge.