Quicker bicycling improvements possible thanks to state bill

A state bill pushed for by Montgomery County planners will require the state to act more quickly when it comes to bicycling and pedestrian improvements to busy bicycling areas.

The bill, which Gov. Larry Hogan signed Tuesday, requires the State Highway Administration to act within a year of when Montgomery County declares a place as a Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area.

The designation means that bike lanes, paths, sidewalks, crosswalks and other traffic control devices must be taken into account during any planning or construction of roads or intersections.

Since many of Montgomery County’s major roads are state roads, the SHA’s participation is crucial to the effort.

The White Flint area is the only SHA-confirmed Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area in the state. More than two dozen other county-designated areas, such as the Bethesda Central Business District, are awaiting SHA approval.

Larry Cole, one of the Planning Department’s transportation planners, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Kelly Blynn helped work on the law with District 18 Del. Al Carr. It was introduced by State Senator Jim Rosapepe in February.

The bill comes as the Planning Department starts work on a new Bicycle Master Plan, which would identify new opportunities for bike lanes, cycle tracks and other bicycle facilities throughout the county.

The focus of the plan to start will be on bicycle improvements in the Great Seneca Science Corridor, though planners have indicated the introduction of Capital Bikeshare means improvement are needed for downcounty roads.

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