Thursday, July 23, 2015

Are residents aware of Rockville bike lane plan's impact on street parking? (Photos)

Rockville Planning Commission
Chair Don Hadley
Concerns that residents of roads where bike lanes could replace street parking aren't aware of the Rockville Bikeways Master Plan led a Planning Commission discussion on the draft document last night. There were also questions about the specific implementation of the plan, and how much say residents and the Planning Commission would have over it, versus city staff.

Commissioner Jack Leiderman said it seemed the commission would be "transferring our authority to staff’s discretion" during the implementation phase of the plan. In contrast, the commission has much greater say in the final bicycle infrastructure that will be constructed under the eventual Rockville Pike Plan. With the bike plan, city staff would essentially wind up with "carte blanche" authority over issues like parking removal for bike lanes on targeted routes, Leiderman said.

Leiderman also questioned whether or not residents on all routes that could lose street parking are fully aware of that detail, as opposed to simply hearing general information from the city about bike facility improvements. He asked that the commission be able to review outreach materials before they are mailed to residents, to ensure the street parking removal is prominently highlighted.
This planned climbing lane
that would have eliminated
street parking on Azalea Drive
is apparently history
Azalea Drive, having nipped the proposal for their street in the bud, organized resident opposition and their lane has now been removed from the map. That newer map, which also showed areas where street parking might be lost in gray, was shown during the meeting but does not appear on the Bikeways Master Plan page on the city website. Leiderman wondered if other streets simply hadn't realized they were on the list, as well. "We know the residents on Hurley Avenue have not agreed to this" yet, Leiderman said as an example. "Planning, to be effective in this city, cannot simply be from the top down," Leiderman argued. He also suggested conducting outreach after Labor Day, rather than during the summer when many are traveling.

A public hearing on the bikeways plan will be held in October.
Proposed bike lane and
climbing lane along Hurley Avenue
Commissioner Charles Littlefield was uncomfortable with giving residents of the streets in question too much authority in the parking question. If they are able to overturn the plan's recommendations, Littlefield said, the result would be a more segmented system. Littlefield said he would find giving up some street parking acceptable, if the end results were more connectivity and a citywide increase in bike ridership. Some of the streets in question, it should be noted, have an existing shortage of parking.

Commissioner David Hill said he would like the plan to include striping the Millennium Trail to better indicate it is a two-way path. Hill said he has encountered groups of joggers, running five-abreast toward him on the trail, while he is bicycling. He also recommended adding bicycle stations with secure bike parking, basic bike service and showers at the Twinbrook, Rockville and Shady Grove Metro stations.

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