Oct 072011

Rockville and the county just secured a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to set up a pilot bike sharing program in Rockville and the Shady Grove area, as described in the Washington Post. The program will have 200 bicycles at 20 bike stations. The grant is provided under the FTA’s Job Access and Reverse Commute Program to improve mobility for low income residents. According to the city press release:

Proposed station locations include the Rockville and Shady Grove Metro stations, Rockville Town Center, employment centers along Route 355/Rockville Pike, Montgomery College-Rockville Campus, Universities at Shady Grove and Johns Hopkins-Montgomery County Campus, and the City of Rockville. …the JARC grant will provide $1.288 million, and the matching portion is $688,000, of which the City of Rockville will contribute up to $200,000 for both capital costs and operation costs. Costs associated with the program include streetscape improvements or bike path links.

I’m not sure the program will get a huge number of users given the suburban population density and isolation from other bikeshare programs, but it will be exciting to try to make it work. Fortunately Rockville is less bike-hostile than many local jurisdictions, and funding additional bikeway improvements could make it even better. Meanwhile bikeshare is sure to succeed in Bethesda…

State Senator Brian Frosh, working with the Bethesda Urban Partnership, recently sought a grant of up to $300,000 to set up a bikeshare program in Bethesda. His request was seconded by County Councilmember Roger Berliner in a letter to County Executive Ike Leggett. Writes Berliner:

Because of its high metro ridership, proximity to existing bikeshare stations, and connectivity to biking trails in DC – not to mention the traffic impacts related to BRAC – Bethesda is an excellent candidate for expansion of the existing system. In fact, over 200 residents of Bethesda are already Capital Bikeshare members – and that’s with zero stations in Montgomery County. I also believe that White Flint, with its exciting new mixed-use development taking place right now, is also a good fit for bikeshare.

Bethesda is a congested urban center that naturally lends itself to getting around by bike, not by car. Parking isn’t cheap either. And if they were to expand the system to Silver Spring, it would be incredibly easy to get there from Bethesda via the Capital Crescent Trail (oops, the trail doesn’t reach downtown Silver Spring yet).
To assess viability of bikeshare for different areas, the Washington Area Council of Governments (COG) created a nifty map showing where it might be more heavily used. You can see the map on a post on Silver Spring Trails (that post pre-dates Frosh’s effort). Bethesda looks like a prime candidate.

These programs are not necessarily going to be affiliated with Capital Bikeshare, but hopefully they will be. Stay tuned for new developments!

Jack Cochrane
Chair, MoBike

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