Bethesda, MD bolsters bike infrastructure

New bike racks stand as flagship improvement

Seeing an ongoing problem of traffic congestion in Bethesda, Maryland, city organizers working with several area businesses decided to address the problem in a unique way. Instead of widening the streets or adding more parking for cars, city officials chose to add an additional 100 bike parking spaces to the downtown area.

This will increase bicycle rack storage in the area to more than 300 spaces, and the first two new racks will provide about 20 spots in the downtown center. All the new racks are scheduled for installation by the middle of July. “Ten new bike racks have been donated to the city of Bethesda through a partnership between Honest Tea, Coca Cola, Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), Bethesda Green and Federal Realty Investment Trust,” said Sharon D’Emidio, program manager for Bethesda Green. “The project was initiated to encourage more biking as a means of transportation in an often congested area of Bethesda. The first two bike racks were unveiled at the Friday, May 18th at the Bike to Work event hosted by BUP. The new racks will increase bike parking downtown by 50 percent and create 100 new spots.”

The plastic bicycle racks will be made from recycled drink containers, helping keep those items from landfills. “The new bike racks are made from plastic lumber composed of 40 percent Honest Kids drink pouches,” D’Emido told BikeRadar. “The partnership worked with Terracycle, a company that collects drink pouches and other packaging materials and recycles them into new materials that can be used for another purpose, like a bike rack.”

Bethesda gets new bike racks to help promote bicycling

The addition of these bike racks is to alleviate traffic congestion in the Washington, D.C. suburb, but also to promote cycling in the area. “It is great to have the additional racks to add to the current inventory of 200 racks in downtown Bethesda,” Stephanie Coppula, spokesperson for the Bethesda Urban Partnership, told BikeRadar. “The additional racks helps with the Bethesda Urban Partnership and Bethesda Transportation Solutions mission of shifting commute behavior from driving alone in a car to bicycling to work, and these employees need places to park their bikes once they arrive at work in Bethesda.”

The Bethesda Transportation Solutions organization has also been working with the League of American Bicyclists to help promote Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) in the area. And while it still has a ways to go, it seems more Bethesda residents are using pedal power to get around. “Downtown Bethesda currently has 4.6 percent of commuters who bike or walk to work,” said Coppula. “The national average is approximately 0.7 percent, so we are happy to see that downtown Bethesda is well above the national average and we will continue to work to increase this number.”

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