About 100 bicyclists pedaled on Old Georgetown Road Sunday along bike lanes with flex posts to separate them from fast moving vehicles during their rally for safe streets.
The State Highway Administration’s two-mile project converted one travel lane of Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda in each direction to a special lane for bicyclists and pedestrians.
While many drivers have bemoaned the reduction in lanes, saying it adds time to their commutes, the bicyclists deemed the project a safety measure that should be added to more roads throughout the county.
Each side initiated a petition through Change.org. Those in support of the bike lanes have gathered about 1,625 signatures while those who wish to “remove the catastrophically dangerous bike lanes” garnered almost 6,700 signatures.
Chanting “safe streets, safe streets,” the bicyclists began their ride Sunday morning in a loop that returned them to Old Bethesda and Oakmont Avenue to talk about how much safer they felt.
“What’s more important, getting through this at 40-50 miles an hour, as fast as possible, or not having any more teenagers die along this stretch of Old Georgetown Road?” asked Peter Gray, co-chair of Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets.
According to Action Committee for Transit, since 2019 two teenage bicyclists have been killed, one teenage bicyclist survived life-threatening injuries; and a family survived life-threatening injuries while riding on the sidewalk at Old Georgetown Road.
Ravi Hausner, a bicyclist from Grosvenor, explained, “I am here because I think the bike lanes are a really great idea. I think it will make a much safer road.” As a teacher, he said he knows some of his students ride their bicycles in the area, and this will both make it safer for them and encourage others to do so.
To those who say the lanes aren’t being used by many riders, Hausner said the protected lanes are still new, and it is winter. He believes usage will increase as the warmer days approach.
Declared Andrea Morris, of Grosvenor, “Let kids grow up knowing this is an option.”
Amira Handwenlar, a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, said she loves to ride her bicycle but shies away from busy streets. The new lanes will add to the places she now can ride, she said.
Bike ride & walk, in support of MD187 lanes! By @WABADC @actfortransit @MoCoFSS w/a good turnout from @MCC_PTA SRTS walking advocates. Thanks all (and, thanks @velo_monicaDC for your help & bringin' up the rear with me! 🥵 😂 ) pic.twitter.com/1m9UIC9Iqw
— Kristy Daphnis (@kristy_lyn_d) January 8, 2023
— suzanne pollak (@SuzannePollak) January 8, 2023
The sidewalk on Old Georgetown Rd is now much safer & more comfortable for 🚶🏻🧑🏻🦽 & 🚍riders – thanks to the bike lanes. A huge, amazing difference that will save lives.
— Action Committee for Transit (@actfortransit) January 9, 2023