Bicyclists rides at new bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road ; ‘So much safer now’

A small group of loyal bicyclists dared chilly winds on Saturday to ride on the newly-installed bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road, which formerly have been criticized by some Maryland drivers as troublesome, unnecessary and annoying.

7 bicyclists take part in this ride that begin from downtown Bethesda and ended about five miles away at Pike & Rose, the retail development on Old Georgetown Road near Rockville Pike.

Among those who welcomes the new lanes was a veteran rider who has long forsaken the car.

“It is so heartwarming for sure to see the life I live to be opened up to other people … I don’t have an automobile now, I haven’t owned one in 27 years,” said resident Richard Hoye from downtown Bethesda, who led the ride on an e-bike, he equipped the bike with a side crate that carried his 12-year-old dog, Rudder.

Hoye said he stopped driving in the mid-90s, opting for a set of bicycles over the years, including a custom foldable, hybrids and, most recently, the e-bike.

“I love this bike lanes. I really thought that Bethesda is becoming more progressive by making greater mobility for people to walk, run, as well as bike, beyond just the C&O Canal trail,” said Heidi Hayes, a resident from Bethesda’s Kenwood Park neighborhood.

“Uniquely, we take our business down to D.C., where we can bike down there and go to a restaurant then. Now instead, we are going to take our business up to Pike & Rose … I’m super excited for these opportunities to see other areas of the county,” Hayes said.

Recently, The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration installed around two miles of bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road in north Bethesda, following the deaths of two bicyclists.

“Riding up and down here is so much safer now I think and all the studies have shown me that,” said Jim Laurenson, a resident of Bethesda’s Wyngate neighborhood.

Although drivers have complained that there are far fewer bikes than cars using this state road, the bicyclists stated confidence that the bike lanes will be popular.

“It takes a while for people to discover them now, it’s also winter … I think a lot of people who work at NIH will start to see this because these lanes funnel right into that area,” Laurenson said.