Montgomery County councilmembers on Thursday raised concerns about cycling safety, a common theme in the last few months as the county prepares to implement a Capital Bikeshare program in the spring.
The remarks came at a joint Public Safety and Transportation Committee hearing in which Department of Transportation officials presented new numbers that showed even as pedestrian-car collisions have decreased significantly during the last six years, bicycle-car collisions were up.
“Our goal as a Council and I hope as a county is to increase the number of people using bicycles,” said Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac). “So going back to more accidents on bicycles is something that is going to be more important, not less important.”
Bethesda is set for 11 Bikeshare stations when 29 are installed in the downcounty area next spring. Already some are concerned with the prospects of more inexperienced riders on the roads and sidewalks.
“I’ve been raising some questions about how prepared we are and how many additional bike lanes and safe places for bicyclists we are creating,” Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-at large) of Garrett Park said. “The state’s repaving of roads seems to largely be including bike lanes. I’m not sure about the county’s process in that regard.”
Floreen recently asked the State Highway Administration to consider bike lanes and bike markings in repaving and road improvement projects.
Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) brought up safety issues between bikers and pedestrians on sidewalks, something not measured in the DOT report.
According to an August report by CountyStat, there were eight reported bicycle collisions in downtown Bethesda in 2011 involving bicycles and cars, most at crosswalks.
The trucks and snow plows were on full display Thursday at the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Bethesda Depot. Plow operators gathered in the cafeteria for the county’s annual “snow summit.”
Those plows will likely be put into use soon, potentially again and again if predictions of a more snowy than usual winter hold up. Thursday’s event was part preparation, part pep talk and part introduction to make sure all (the plow crews, State Highway Administration workers, Parks officials, contractors and others) were on the same page.
“I take this very personally. We have all this sophisticated technology. You can go online, look at what’s happening in your neighborhoods,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) told the summit. “But it is, I think, clear now that if anyone wanted to reach me, then it’s a very simple process. All they have to do is call me at home. I’m listed. My telephone is there. And I can tell you that people call. So I know very personally what happens with all the winter operations because people call me at all times of night. I’ve received phone calls at 2, 3 o’clock in the morning with people calling me with the challenges they have on their streets.”
The man in charge of DOT’s effort to plow those streets is Keith Compton, chief of DOT’s Division of Highway Services. His snow plow crews are responsible for clearing 5,000 lane miles of roadways in five geographically organized sections of the county, a task that in large snowstorms can mean lengthy turns plowing and re-plowing streets.
“The most important thing is food,” Compton said. “Protracted events mean that our operators need to be well slept and well fed.”
BUP, the county-funded nonprofit in charge of marketing and maintaining downtown Bethesda, is looking for filmmakers from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. to submit their five- to 20-minute documentaries.
Those selected will get a chance to discuss their films when they are shown on March 23 at Imagination Stage.
Information on the event and how to submit a film is here. The Bethesda Art & Entertainment District Board will pick five films, with help from Angelica Das, associate director of the Center for Social Media at American University’s School of Communication, and David Stern, director of Digital Media at Imagination Stage.
DVD entries must be submitted by Dec. 10. Notification of selection will be sent in January and the panel will select one additional film by an under-18 filmmaker.
Filmmakers who make it into the festival will get a $150 prize.
The event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chevy Chase Village Hall (5906 Connecticut Ave.), will feature 10 artists available for discussion with collectors, other artists or those just interested in fine art.
The event is free and open to the public. Visit the Studio E Partners website for more information on the organization and the event.
Image via Studio E Partners
The Montgomery County Planning Board today will assess plans for a five-story, 140-apartment mixed-use development at the old Arlington Road Post Office site.
In its recommendations for the project’s Preliminary and Site Plans to be reviewed this morning, planning staff discusses a required new traffic signal and walkway to the Capital Crescent Trail that borders the property to the east side.
Both those elements were required by the County Council when it approved zoning changes for Philadelphia-based Keating Development in January.
An attorney for the developer expressed some resistance to the idea of a pedestrian or bike access point to the Trail because of maintenance and liability issues.
But in the Preliminary and Site Plans, Keating has provided for a walkway from the building to the Trail and a 60-inch high metal picket fence that will allow residents to see the Trail and Trail-goers to see the apartment.
Also part of the staff recommendations is more information on a new traffic signal that would go at the intersection of Arlington Road, the south entrance to the development and the north entrance to the Bradley Boulevard shopping center.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation has approved the signalization concept for the intersection, which will now include 7,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor of the Keating development.
The signal must be up and operational before the new apartments or retail stores can open.
Planning staff says the development will actually represent a stark decrease in traffic compared to the Post Office that occupied the site until it closed for consolidation purposes in May.
Developers want to provide a parking garage with 211 spaces, which will accommodate 44 fewer peak-hour trips during weekday mornings and 19 fewer peak-hour trips during the evening rush hour than the Post Office generated.
Image via Montgomery County Planning Department
Unforeseen factors with the Bethesda Metro station’s elevator rehabilitation project will delay the reopening of the elevator for about three weeks, a WMATA spokesperson said Thursday.
The lone street-to-platform elevator to one of Metro’s deepest underground stations was scheduled to be back in service in October. The elevator has been out of service since the project started in late May.
WMATA spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said two developments have extended the length of the project: Technicians realized they needed certain components that were not immediately available and workers did not realize the correct sequencing of work for one of Metro’s deepest elevators until after the project began.
The 106-foot-deep elevator is a bigger project than most elevator rehabilitation jobs on the system, Lukas said. It’s also the first time the elevator has been modified since the Bethesda Metro station opened in 1983.
“We know that the elevator is important to customers who use Bethesda Station,” Lukas said, “and be assured that we are working to return the elevator to service as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Since May, Metro has offered free shuttle service to the Medical Center station for disabled customers or other passengers unable or unwilling to use the station’s escalators, which at 212 feet are the second longest in the Western Hemisphere.
In September, WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel said Metro had a technician assigned to the station to quickly deal with any escalator issues because of the out-of-service elevator.
The escalators are also scheduled to undergo major work. Metro wants to begin the tricky and time-consuming process of replacing the three escalators in early 2014, though Montgomery County officials were hoping for an earlier start date.
The length and complexity of the escalator replacement project is why Metro elected to undertake the elevator rehabilitation project first, Stessel said.
Walter Reed Hit-And-Run Driver Competent to Stand Trial — Angela Cobbold is a “completely rational, reasonable person,” when taking her medication, her brother-in-law told a judge yesterday. Cobbold, who led police on a cross-Potomac River chase before drawing gunfire from a Navy Military Medical security officer last week, may seek a “not criminally responsible” distinction. [Bethesda Patch]
MCPS Superintendent Coming to Strathmore — Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Josh Starr will deliver his first State of the Schools address at The Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane) on Monday, Nov. 12. [MCPS]
E-cycle Event Sunday at Whitman High School — Bring your old computers, electronics, floppy disks, CD players, printers or a host of other products to Walt Whitman High School (7100 Whittier Blvd.) from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday for recycling collection from the Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services. [Bethesda Green]
Flickr photo by spiggycat