A recently approved plan could narrow MacArthur Boulevard in order to provide bicycle access from the District to Old Angler’s Inn.
“The road is one of the more heavily used bicycle paths in the county,” said Chuck Kines of Park and Planning staff. “The persistent off-road path is too narrow and needs protection from autos.”
The plan is in the draft stage and must be approved by the County Council’s transportation and Environment Committee before it can proceed to a more advanced stage. At that stage an expected cost will be available.
The proposed plan will add two feet of pavement to each side of the road and narrow the driving lanes by one foot on each side, creating three-foot bicycle lanes. There will then be a grass strip and eight-foot sidewalk on one side.
Planning staff have identified that the current path is too narrow, and frequently used for parking by motorists who do not know what the double-white line means.
Additionally having a path on just one side forces some cyclists to drive against traffic.
The current plan envisions more experienced cyclists using the three-foot strips along the road, with novices and others using the separated path. “This path will function as a de facto sidewalk,” Kines said.
Representatives from the Department of Transportation and Public Works were also present and were supportive of the plan which was presented.
Representatives from two bicyclist organizations are happy about the proposed plan. “The Washington Area Bicyclist Association strongly supports the planning staff recommendations,” said John Fleming of the Association.
Planning commissioners were all very supportive of the concept. “I’m in total support of this,” said Commissioner Allison Bryant.
“It is a very important route,” said Commissioner Meredith Wellington. “It deserves to be well done.”
Commissioners brought up the issue of additional impervious surface and potential environmental concerns, but were dismissive of them in the name of equity.
“Make sure that the environmental concerns don’t overwhelm the need,” said Commission Chair Derick Berlage.
Berlage then alluded to some large road projects, possibly the InterCounty Connector, which are going forward in spite of some environmental concerns.
“We’re making a lot of environmental compromises for motorists.”