What Old Georgetown Road’s new bike, pedestrian lanes mean for safety

The new bike and pedestrian lanes on Old Georgetown Road in Montgomery County, Maryland, have drawn criticism from some drivers. But so far, it looks like they are boosting safety and increasing travel times for some commuters.

Since the lanes were installed last October, there have been no pedestrian or bike involved crashes on Old Georgetown Road, a new report from the Maryland State Highway Administration suggests.

Over the last six months, there have been 35 crashes on the roadway, the report says. Nine of those crashes resulted in injury, but there have been no fatal crashes, and no bike or pedestrian crashes.

In the ten months prior to the installation, there were 40 crashes, resulting in 17 injuries and one death. Six of those crashes were pedestrian or bicycle related with five resulting in injures, the report stated. The one death in that span was also pedestrian or bike related.

The report does show travel times have increased on average about 30 seconds for drivers headed northbound, in the morning hours and about a minute in the afternoon. Southbound travel times have been unaffected.

The focus of this project was to improve safety for vulnerable users of the system as well as motorists while balancing mobility along the corridor,” the report stated. 

The lanes followed the deaths of two teenage bicyclists in separate crashes over the past three years. One of three lanes in each direction has been converted to buffered bicycle lanes with green pavement markings, lined with plastic flex poles.

A small band of devoted bicyclists braved chilly winds to ride the newly-installed bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Residents have been mixed on the bike lanes: Some voiced their displeasure over the new lanes on social media, claiming that travel times are longer than before. However, others told WTOP that they feel safer walking and biking on the street than before.

Recently, more than 8,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling for the new lanes to be removed.

The petition claims the roadway’s driving capacity has been reduced by 39% in order to accommodate the new lanes and states “the road now is consistently congested, with back-to-back traffic even in the middle of the day in good weather.”

Fewer people have signed a petition in favor of the new bike and pedestrian lanes.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this story. 

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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