Changes to bike lane a turn-off for some
Residents say plans for stupidest' trail not necessary
Residents have voted against the county's proposed changes to a bike lane along Cedar Street in Silver Spring and some are unsure whether the county's new plans for the trail, which was named the "Stupidest Bike Lane in America" by an online magazine last year, are even necessary.
The county Department of Transportation produced two designs for the trail and recommended one. Residents voted against the DOT-recommended design because it would require parallel parking to be moved to the east side of Cedar, a one-way street.
The design would put a 5-foot designated bike lane on the west side of Cedar that would flow both with and against traffic, leaving a 12-foot travel lane for cars between the bike lane and parking lane. To move the parking lane, which is used by residents along Cedar, two-thirds of residents had to approve the measure.
Instead, a 5-foot bike lane will run parallel to the parking lane, despite the risk of passengers hitting cyclists with doors as they exit their parked cars.
"It doesn't seem like that would make a difference at all," Andy Cottrell, a nearby resident, said Monday.
Construction is expected to begin this spring and should last a month, said Esther Bowring, a county spokeswoman. Cost estimates will be determined shortly and it will be funded through the county's Capital Improvements Program.
"[The trail] is part of an on-going effort to enhance the county's bicycle network connections throughout the Silver Spring area" with connections to Sligo Creek Park Trail, the Silver Spring Metro Station, the future Capital Crescent Trail and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Bowring said.
Currently at the corner of Wayne and Cedar, two large "do not enter" signs warn drivers of the one-way street. Just beneath those signs there is a small sign signaling cyclists to enter the street, which has no discernible bike lane.
A bike trail sign at the corner of Cedar and Dartmouth Avenue directs cyclists west, right into the sidewalk where Dartmouth comes to a dead end. About 10 feet away, a bike-trail sign at Bonifant and Cedar directs cyclists down Bonifant, where there is no designated bike lane.
The confusion earned the portion of Cedar the "honor" of "Stupidest Bike Lane in America" as judged by readers and editors at Slate magazine's video Web site, SlateV.com.
In a segment from May 2008, Slate V Executive Producer Bill Smee visits the corner of Cedar and Wayne to question the sign directing cyclists the opposite way down a one-way street and to ridicule a 20-foot segment of Cedar with faded remnants of bike lane signage.
"It didn't really even make any sense to us what is going on there," said Slate V editor Andy Bowers, the Los Angeles-based creator of the Stupidest Bike Lane contest.
Frank Johnson, who lives at the corner of Wayne and Cedar, said the county should focus more on pedestrian issues and the potential impact of the Purple Line along Wayne instead of bike trails.
"[Cyclists] just use the road now and they will continue to use the road whether there is a bike path or not," Johnson said, adding that he voted on the DOT trail designs in November but doesn't remember which option he chose.
Cedar Street resident Ken Halprin was cycling home Monday from his job in Bethesda, traveling in the traffic lane where the bike lane is planned. He said he has always biked along Cedar, regardless of the signage.
"It's confusing but not really dangerous," Halprin said.
In 2002, DOT implemented a bicycle lane on Cedar, satisfying recommendations from the 2000 Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan. But after residents complained that a curb installed next to the lane hindered trash pickup and snow removal, the curb was eliminated.
Since then, the trail has become nonexistent, an example of a lack of continuous bike trails in Silver Spring, said Darian Unger, chairman of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.
Other problems include the Green Trail along Wayne Avenue, which does not link to the Sligo Creek Trail, and continued delays to a bike trail expected to run parallel with the CSX tracks in Silver Spring, Unger said.
"This bike trail and several other bike trails haven't been happening in Silver Spring for awhile," he said.