Earlier this week, DOT staff hosted a meeting in Bethesda to get feedback from the community on 15 proposed station locations in Friendship Heights, Bethesda, and Medical Center. There are another 15 stations planned for Silver Spring and Takoma Park, and another 20 planned for Rockville/Shady Grove. DOT is hosting separate meetings in those areas, as well.
Staff collected feedback and concerns from those in attendance, and will consider this input as they finalize station locations. If you have feedback on any of the proposed locations you see on the map, please feel free to email me and I will be sure to relay your message to DOT. Or you can email them directly, here.
DOT is aiming for a September launch of the Montgomery County network. Capital Bikeshare has been an overwhelming regional success, and I look forward to Montgomery County getting on board.
FY 14 Budget: Transportation: Fixing the Potholes, Increasing Pedestrian Safety, Improving Bike-ability, and Trees May 23, 2013
As I've said before, few things are as basic to local government as fixing the potholes, and this budget contains a 30% increase for road resurfacing and repairs. This includes hot mix asphalt road patching (temporary and permanent roadway repairs, skin patching, and crack sealing); shoulder maintenance; and storm drain maintenance, including erosion repairs, roadway ditch and channel repairs, cleaning enclosed storm drains, and repair and/or replacement of drainage pipes.
The Council also added funding to enhance pedestrian safety, which is more critical than ever as we move toward having more walkable neighborhoods and encourage use of transit. In order to make sure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible, the Council also added funding to improve traffic signal optimization and to replace loop detectors.
Capital Bikeshare is expected to expand to Montgomery County this September. If you're a regular reader of The Berliner Brief, or even if you're not, you've probably heard that our County has worked very hard to bring the sturdy red bikes across the District line. We are almost there.
But whether riders are using Capital Bikeshare or their own personal bikes, we need to improve our County's bike-ability. We have made strides in this regard, and I am particularly pleased with what appears to be a significant breakthrough in what had been a protracted process to complete the Metropolitan Branch Trail that runs from Silver Spring to Union Station. At the recommendation of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee, which I chair, the Council added funding for improved bike markings and signage in Capital Bikeshare's service area so that CaBi users and regular bicyclists alike have identifiable, safe spaces to ride. I recently participated in Bike to Work Day and I quickly came to appreciate the significant importance of having these safe spaces! These safety improvements are expected to get underway this summer.
Also included in the Department of Transportation's budget is significant funding to manage trees. Due to severely constrained resources, our Department of Transportation has been struggling mightily to keep up with the backlog of dead and dying tree and dangerous limb removals throughout the County. Throw the leftover stumps on top of that backlog, and it's not a pretty picture.
I am very pleased that the full Council supported the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee's recommendation to increase funding for tree services. For the first time in years, DOT now will have a budget for stump removal, tree planting, tree pruning, and tree removal, totaling almost $1 million.
Transit Services and the Expansion of Capital Bikeshare April 3, 2013
As chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee, I am committed to providing top-notch transit services to our residents. Montgomery County RideOn provides fixed-route bus service throughout the county, and is a critical component of our efforts to reduce traffic congestion.
To that end, I have pushed back hard against recommendations to reduce RideOn service in recent years. Achieving budget savings through reduced transit service, to me, is a short-sighted approach that is inherently contrary to our stated goals of encouraging transit use. I am pleased that the County Executive has recommended preserving all current RideOn routes, including new additions that began this year, in his FY14 recommended budget.
And as a strong proponent of bringing Capital Bikeshare to Montgomery County, I am very pleased that, in anticipation of a summer 2013 launch, the County Executive has included funds to operate the system. As it already has in DC and Arlington, Bikeshare will provide an alternative for commuters who only need to go a few miles to their destinations and will open up access to other forms of transit as well. CaBi has been a huge success in DC and Arlington and I look forward to Montgomery County getting on board.
Good News for Downcounty Bikeshare December 19, 2012
Last week, the Council introduced a supplemental appropriation that would complete the funding package needed for Phase 1 of the downcounty expansion of Capital Bikeshare to Montgomery County. My colleagues and I, particularly Councilmembers Valerie Ervin and Hans Reimer, have been pushing hard for our County to keep up to speed with the District of Columbia and Arlington on this successful program. And with Monday's announcement of the next wave of stations in DC, we are literally getting closer to becoming part of the system.
Momentum has been building to bring the sturdy red bikes across the District line for some time. Earlier this year, the County was awarded just over $1 million as a grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation, and - thanks to the leadership of Senators Frosh, Madaleno, and Raskin and Delegate Bill Frick - we also received another $250,000 in a state bond bill for the project. The Council recently passed legislation that would make it easier for the private sector to partner with the County on this endeavor, and I am pleased that we have received significant commitments from property owners, including Chevy Chase Land Company, to participate.
With the state and private sector coming to the table, it is time for the County to demonstrate its commitment as well. This supplemental appropriation would fill out the funding needed to finalize locations along both legs of the red line inside the beltway and install the first twenty-nine stations in Montgomery County. I understand that our Department of Transportation has been hard at work finalizing the necessary agreements to become part of the Capital Bikeshare system, collaborating with their counterparts in DC and Arlington. Although it is difficult to predict a specific timeframe, DOT expects that our network will be up and running by mid-2013.
As recent discussions on Greater Greater Washington and other blogs have underscored, the advent of Capital Bikeshare in Montgomery County must be accompanied by a meaningful improvement in our bicycle infrastructure. I have been a champion of critical trail projects like the Capital Crescent Trail and the Metropolitan Branch Trail - but having safe and adequate bike infrastructure is not just about having excellent off-road facilities. I have encouraged our DOT to embrace the concept of "Complete Streets" - that is, having roads make sense for a variety of users, and not just the vehicles that drive down the center. As we move closer to getting on board with Bikeshare, I will continue putting my shoulder to the wheel on enhancing our bicycle infrastructure.
A public hearing on the supplemental appropriation is scheduled for January 15 at 1:30 PM. To testify, send your written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (240) 777-7803 to sign up.
Bringing Bikeshare to Montgomery County September 25, 2012
This month, Capital Bikeshare celebrates its second birthday in the District of Columbia. Since it began, nearly 1700 sturdy red bikes have been taken out for over two million trips around DC, Arlington, and Alexandria.
Montgomery County has been working aggressively to get on board. In July, our County secured a Maryland Department of Transportation grant for over $1 million to expand Capital Bikeshare to the county. We received a $250,000 allocation from the state legislature thanks to a bond bill sponsored by Senators Brian Frosh, Rich Madaleno, Jamie Raskin, and Delegate Bill Frick. We have also received significant financial commitments from the Chevy Chase Land Co. and other private sector sources, for which we are extremely grateful.
Last week, Councilmember Ervin and I introduced legislation that will help the County build on the progress it has made so far, by encouraging the private sector to partner with us to establish the first phase of our downcounty network. I am pleased to have the support of Councilmembers Riemer, Leventhal, Elrich, Andrews, and Navarro on one or both of these efforts. ZTA 12-14 would exempt developers from having to file a costly and time consuming site plan amendment in order to install a Bikeshare station; Bill 25-12 would allow the Department of Transportation to use developer-paid transportation impact funds towards Bikeshare stations. A public hearing on these bills will be held October 23.
I have asked DOT to set an ambitious timetable for implementing our downcounty network so that Montgomery County can join in Capital Bikeshare's success in the very near future. DOT staff expects to see stations installed starting in Spring 2013.
Great News for Bikeshare May 17, 2012
Last week, we got some very, very good news on our pursuit of Bikeshare. Our County was awarded a $1,008,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation, that will help fund bringing the sturdy red bikes across the District line.
Piecing together a financing strategy to get the downcounty network up and running has been a slow and steady effort. A number of my colleagues and I have played significant supporting roles in pursuing funding, including Councilmembers Ervin, Reimer, and Leventhal. I want to thank Governor O'Malley and members of the General Assembly for their critical support of our proposal.
Earlier this year, I convened a meeting of private sector representatives who expressed interest in participating in the County's efforts to expand Bikeshare. As a result of that discussion, I will soon be introducing a package of minor regulatory reforms that make partnering with our County to get stations on the ground an attractive option for the private sector.
I believe our goal should be to have at least the first phase of our network up and running by the end of 2012. Earlier this month, I was joined by Councilmembers Ervin and Reimer in asking DOT to take some ambitious next steps to achieve that goal.
Bringing Bikeshare Across the District Line November 21, 2011
Our County is pursuing a number of avenues to piece together funding so that we can bring the sturdy red bicycles to areas of Montgomery County that are best-suited for them. Among them, DOT is applying for a state grant that would be used to fund part of the capital cost of installing stations, Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Bill Frick have offered their support in pursuing a state bond bill, and there is significant interest in the private sector in helping to jump start this endeavor as well.
As part of this phase of our pursuit, County Executive staff is hosting a Bikeshare Open House on November 29 from 6-8:30 PM at the Executive Office Building in Rockville, and will be looking for input on Bikeshare station locations. Of course, you can always email my office with your thoughts as well, and I'll make sure they make it to the right place.
Last week, I asked the County Executive to lend his support to expanding a robust bikeshare program to the Bethesda area. Both DC and Arlington have an extensive network of bikeshare stations, and I believe including Bethesda in the continued development of this network makes a lot of sense.
Because of its high metro ridership, proximity to existing bikeshare stations, and connectivity to biking trails in DC - not to mention the traffic impacts related to BRAC - Bethesda is an excellent candidate for expansion of the existing system. In fact, over 200 residents of Bethesda are already Capital Bikeshare members � and that�s with zero stations in Montgomery County.
I also believe that White Flint, with its exciting new mixed-use development taking place right now, is also a good fit for bikeshare. As this new paradigm in transit-oriented development takes shape, the time is now to ensure that bikesharing is included in the landscape of White Flint. When it is installed, it could be a link between the stations planned in Rockville and the new stations in Bethesda.
I asked the County Executive to think creatively about how we can move forward on bikeshare quickly. This could include continuing our County�s pursuit of federal grant money to match interest in funding at the state level, and developing a sponsorship model, which could be similar to one in place in Crystal City, to leverage interest from the private sector. With over 110 stations in DC and Arlington, Montgomery County�s partnership in the bikesharing network is overdue.
I look forward to working with Senator Brian Frosh, who has assumed a strong leadership role in supporting this project at the state level; Council President Ervin, who has been and continues to be a strong advocate for bikeshare; our Montgomery County Department of Transportation, which has already secured funding for establishing stations in Rockville and Gaithersburg; and Bethesda stakeholders to explore ways we can make bikeshare happen there, sooner rather than later. You can read my letter to the County Executive here.