Petition Started to Remove Bike Lanes on Old Georgetown Road

by MCS Staff

A petition has been started to remove the bike lanes that were recently added to Old Georgetown Road (MD187) in North Bethesda.  MDOT converted one travel lane in each direction of the road, between south of I-495 and north of Nicholson Lane, to a buffered bicycle lane that include flex posts and green pavement.  The remaining 11-foot travel lanes have also been narrowed to 10.5 and 10 feet.

According to the petition, “There are serious safety concerns regarding the new bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road (Maryland State Route 187) in Bethesda, MD. This heavily-trafficked 6-lane major highway has been reduced by 39% by removing 2 driving lanes and by reducing the width of the 4 remaining driving lanes. This ill-advised change was made in order to add 2 bike lanes with white plastic spikes separating the bike lanes from the driving lanes. This busy highway serves schools, the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins University, Suburban Hospital, and the Bethesda Fire Station. It is often used by emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire engines, and police cars. Reduced by 39% in driving capacity, the road now is consistently congested, with back-to-back traffic even in the middle of the day in good weather. This non-stop traffic has resulted in cars trying to avoid the gridlock by cutting through quiet residential side streets where children play. Ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, buses, and drivers in their personal cars can no longer quickly reach their destinations, potentially endangering many lives.”

“We appreciate the feedback from community members, elected officials and other stakeholders as we worked to make this vital corridor safer. These improvements on Old Georgetown Road underscore our commitment to a safe, accessible and multimodal approach to our roadways,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr back in October.


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Natalya Dahmen December 27, 2022 - 7:49 pm

Remove the bike lines on OGR!

Steve December 27, 2022 - 10:20 pm

No. Embrace the future. Stop climate change. The only reason that children are endangered is people being impatient. Bikers deserve to be protected as well. We could just bike down the road without the protection and congest traffic without the lanes. Which do you prefer?

Donna wood December 28, 2022 - 5:02 am

This is ridiculous. I have been driving old georgetown road for months and I have not seen one bicyclist using those lanes.

David D December 28, 2022 - 10:37 am

I have been traveling this road for 4 decades plus and never ever do I see a bicyclist. I am still amazed that the actual concrete path that was originally built was never used by bicyclists. I was informed that the riders find it unsafe to ride on these. So why not just reconstruct these existing paths to make them safer? Seems like there is a better solution.

Greg Jones December 27, 2022 - 10:56 pm

These lanes are the absolute worst of both worlds. Narrowing the lanes was completely unnecessary and now busses and larger vehicles can’t even safely travel in a single lane. The plastic dividers are too close to the driving surface and are not located where the traffic survey recommended they be installed. Congestion is leading a less safe drive with traffic jams at all times of day and multiple accidents since installation. They really need to figure out how to fix this asap.

Evan December 29, 2022 - 8:51 pm

So it forces you to drive slower and pay more attention. I don’t see any issues. The percentage cain from 2-3 lanes is minimal at best.

fred storm December 28, 2022 - 12:25 pm

Another prime example of state officials NOT having a clue. It might be one thing if anyone used them, THEY DON’T. I personally witnessed a ambulance having NO PLACE to go last week while everyone sat in gridlock. I hope the person made it to Suburban Hospital alive !!!! Another total waste of tax payer money for they sake of someone feeling good about their ridiculous decision to install these lanes.

Jorge Bazan December 29, 2022 - 12:33 am

I applause these new bike lanes 👏🏽 👏🏽 – we need a rebalancing of our roads. We can’t fight climate change without minimizing the car dependency in our societies.

If you build bike lanes, cyclist will come.

This petition to remove the lanes is sad, but everyone has a right to get their voice and opinions heard.

Evan December 29, 2022 - 8:52 pm

They sit in gridlock either way so it doesn’t affect that.

Jeanne Spivak December 28, 2022 - 3:15 pm

Wha they have done to the roads in Bethesda are equally dangerous as well!

Nicholas J Wulfekuhle December 28, 2022 - 4:01 pm

The fallacy of the article is that the after photo shows a cyclist in the “after” photo.

I drive OGR between Nicholson Road and the BCC YMCA in both directions at least twice daily. To date, I have not seen a single cyclist using the bike lanes.

I have seen confusion as drivers try to merge onto OGE from the outer loop, including one minor fender bender.

There is already a bike lane in the form of the trolly trail.

The state should be ashamed of itself.

Christopher Louis Houston December 29, 2022 - 3:35 am

The bicyclists will get ran over by the commuters if there no bicycle lanes….

Marvin Spivak December 28, 2022 - 5:28 pm

The. Ike lames created on Bethesda Row are equally dangerous to all . Four lames is now tw with many islands created. Cars are popping tires, pedestrians are tripping and there are no adequate signs. Additionally ambulances, fire engines amd other emergency vehicles are also delayed. Amd in front of The Darcy where I love the pickup and drop off has been removed , the surface is now uneven and curbs added that pedestrians have to walk across two bike lanes going in opposite directions to get to. A worst nightmare and many accidents waiting to happen . Please remove.

Uni December 29, 2022 - 4:26 am

I live nearby Old Georgetown rd and drive on it to get to work. I believe the bike lanes can be improved, but I don’t think they should be removed. After hearing about the kids (who were riding bikes on the sidewalk) were killed, a pedestrian being killed, an adult woman biking being killed, it makes sense to offer protection to those walking and biking. When I drive near the sidewalk, and see someone walking, it makes me feel uncomfortable because they are so close to fast moving traffic. Knowing that the speed limit is 40mph but people generally move faster – and that if hit a pedestrian at that speed, the chances that they die are very high – I was glad to see the bike lanes installed. Yes, narrowing the lanes will make traffic slower, that’s part of the point. Converting a car lane to a buffered bike lane gives protection to those walking and biking by keeping them away from cars which can move much faster. Yes, that reduces the capacity and speed of the road for cars, but it is an inconvenience that must be made for safety. I think it could be better with a different design around the interchanges with 270. Even before the bike lanes, drivers would either get confused with all the lanes, cut all the way from the furthest left lane to the furthest right and vice versa. As I said, I drive on it to get to work, and have only noticed “grid lock” when there was a lane being blocked by a work truck in the morning. In the morning lately it has been fine, but in the evening it is a bit more congested in some areas. Overall, it doesn’t take me much longer to get to work or get home, if at all. I do see drivers getting confused. They could add some signs to help with that.

People say they have never seen bikes in the lanes as soon as they were installed. I have seen bikes on Old Georgetown before the bike lanes were installed, just mixed with the traffic. And I have seen bikes in the new bike lane recently. It will take some time for people to start using it, considering that it was a dangerous place for pedestrians and people on bikes. The serious cyclists (ones who wear cycling suits, goggles etc) may have been comfortable riding with cars. But kids, students (who could use it to get to the school being remodeled after it’s done) would not be comfortable riding in traffic. The bike lane gives them a safe alternative if they don’t have a car/can’t drive, parents can’t drive, or they are not serviced by a bus. I have even had thoughts that, if there were a safe place to do so, I would bike down to the Giant if possible. I would not bike with car traffic. Now that the bike lane is there, I could do it. I still don’t like how the design is around 270, but it’s a start. People can at least have the option to use the bike lanes for those shorter trips, which should reduce the number of cars on the road. As population increases, the # of cars undoubtedly increases. Building a network of safer bike lanes should help with that. To at least give those who can’t drive/don’t have a car, another option.

Stephen December 29, 2022 - 12:04 pm

I use Old Georgetown Road to commute to and from work. I occasionally drive on Old Georgetown, but most often I use it to commute on my bicycle, typically 3-5 days per week.

I used Old Georgetown as part of my route to and from work before the bike lanes were added, and I use it to commute to and from work now, in the bike lanes. Adding the bike lanes to the right side of the roadway hasn’t affected my commute at all, really, except to make the time I spend on Old Georgetown a little more pleasant (and to ease my wife’s fears a little, I think). I use Old Georgetown Road because it is on my most direct route to work.

Before the bike lanes were installed, I felt reasonably safe – despite occasionally having vehicles attempt to run me into the curb, or pulling out directly in my path, or having trash thrown at me – because I am fit enough, and ride a bicycle designed to go at sufficiently fast speeds, that I can ride at a speed that isn’t too much slower than the cars approaching me from behind, such that they have plenty of time to see me. If all cyclists were like me, there probably wouldn’t be a need for bike lanes at all. But not all cyclists are like me. Cyclist come in many shapes and sizes, with more or less experience, and on bikes of all kinds.

Sadly, we have lost two of our neighbors recently in accidents involving bicycles on Old Georgetown Road. These were both young people who were using the narrow sidewalks on Old Georgetown – instead of the travel lanes, and before the installation of any bicycle lanes – who for one reason or another dropped off the sidewalk directly in front of oncoming vehicles. I have to think that the bike lanes are intended for people like them; to give cyclists who don’t feel safe riding in the regular traffic lanes a safer way to get where they are going than trying to navigate a bicycle down a narrow sidewalk.

If the bike lanes can prevent another accident like those that caused the two recent deaths on Old Georgetown Road or can spare the kind of anguish that the blameless drivers of the vehicles that struck these two cyclists must have experienced – and which they may still be experiencing – I am all in for them. I know that it is harder to measure “lives saved” than it is the measure lives lost or lives unalterably changed, but I feel safe in assuming that the bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road – and on all the other roads to which they are added – will save lives.

I thank you for taking the time to read this, and hope that you all have a safe, and healthy, and prosperous new year.

Stephen Doyle
Gaithersburg, MD

Sebastian December 29, 2022 - 2:07 pm

In such a wealthy area as Bethesda riding a bicycle to work (for example) is a privilege, there is no other way around that. You would be hard pressed to find individuals who had to commute to work on a bicycle because they could not afford public transportation, let alone a car.

The bike lanes are anti-worker and anti-environment.

It is imperative that we speak out against those who would oppose workers’ rights (to commute unincumbered and with dignity) and the environment (excessive carbon emission caused by the newly created traffic jams). Not to mention that most workers in the service industry do not have the ability to shower and change into fresh clothes after biking to work.

The increased carbon emissions caused by the newly created traffic jams, and by direct extension increased global warming have been proven to negatively affect marginalized communities more. The additional carbon footprint cannot be offset by minimal bike usage. Maryland can and should do better.

This is an absolute travesty so that a privileged and ableist minority can ride a bicycle on a major thoroughfare a few times a year.

Instead, the existing infrastructure, such as the Bethesda Trolley Trail and the Capital Crescent Trail should have been improved.

Evan December 29, 2022 - 8:56 pm

Why are you so angry. Try an ebike it delightful and the best way to get around. You bearly sweat and you get exercise.

Evan December 29, 2022 - 8:54 pm

Driving a car is a privilege. Why should someone have to pay tens of thousands to go a couple of miles each day. A bike and public transit cost almost nothing daily compared to a car. Plus less people on the road driving means less traffic, which leads to less CO2 and less damage to the infrastructure.

Nick December 30, 2022 - 9:04 am

Almost 40k cars use that road a day. The road is chaotic filled with white posts. New traffic patterns. What happens when it snows? Will snow pile up inside the bike area? Better yet…will the state spend thousands to plow that area that can not be maintained easily with plow trucks?
How about traffic studies? The road was widened years ago to alleviate congestion. Are they encouraging riders to continue to travel along a busy highway? It seems so.

Major modifications like this seem to be an attempt to be in response to vehicle fatalities involving bikes.
Encouraging more riders to old Georgetown road is not going to make it safer. The fact is as more riders are going to be attracted to the bike lanes you will encourage more children to ride on the roadway.

The worst narrow minded decision is to encourage ridership along old Georgetown road.

Brian Schulmsn January 4, 2023 - 9:57 pm

I completely agree that the implementation of bike lanes on OGR is a safety hazard and a traffic disaster. This is a state money grab from the federal government. OGR is a major thoroughfare and the last place for safe biking. This is an abuse of public safety and the misappropriation of tax dollars. In my past six trips to OGR I have not seen a single biker. Do we predict that the bike traffic will increase in the winter months with ice and snow. Or, will it take several traffic accidents and fatalities to remove this catastrophic blunder.

J. Griffin January 6, 2023 - 1:44 pm

Well, I finally saw a bike rider headed south on Old Georgetown this morning. I suppose his pants were a bit too tight causing him to ignore the red light just north of the beltway overpass. He failed to come to a complete stop thus letting the drivers on OGR with the green arrow to cross over the southbound lands and merge onto the beltway. Locked up that back wheel and slid quite a bit as I passed in front of him. This is typical of bike riders. Most are scofflaws at best and Darwin Award candidates at worst

The look on his face was priceless.

Rider January 25, 2023 - 1:22 pm

I use OGR every day, and I also frequently bike. I’m completely against the new bike lanes, especially through the belt way exits. All the talk about supporting biking as primary transportation for people and making it safer are clearly virtue signaling. Creating more traffic is not, and never will be a good plan. As a biker, I will not use the new lanes as they are very dangerous, I’ll stay on the sidewalk if I need to ride down OGR. I have still yet to see anyone use the lanes.


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