On April 24, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) signed a contract with Alta Bicycle Share that will bring the popular Capital Bikeshare program to Montgomery County. The contract provides for equipment purchase and operating costs in two areas of the County. About 20 bike stations with 200 bikes will be installed in the Rockville and Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center area. Thirty stations with 250 bikes will be located in the Downcounty along both of the Red Line Metrorail corridors between the District of Columbia and the beltway. Areas include Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, Bethesda and Medical Center.
“Bikesharing can be a cost-effective, healthy way to provide better transportation connections that reduce the need to drive for short trips, provide efficient links to transit and reduce traffic congestion. Since bikesharing is low-cost and available 24/7, it may be particularly helpful for low-income residents, many of whom hold multiple jobs and try to participate in job training programs,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “We expect the bikeshare program to significantly expand opportunities and improve the quality of life for all our residents.”
Montgomery County’s bikeshare program will operate seamlessly with other Capital Bikeshare programs throughout the region. MCDOT’s top priority is to ensure the safety of riders by locating stations in areas with safe connections to activity centers and other stations, including bike paths, bike lanes and sidewalks, or on streets that are less congested by traffic. MCDOT is working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on locating bikeshare stations at each of the Metrorail stations in the areas to be served.
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board approved a $1.3 million Federal Transit Administration grant to Montgomery County to establish the Mid-County bikesharing program. The County’s local match for the grant is $553,000, covering some equipment and operating costs for two years. The City of Rockville is also providing $300,000 in local matching funds. Other project supporters include the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; MontgomeryWorks; Montgomery College; The Universities at Shady Grove; Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery County campus; Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; City of Gaithersburg and the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.
The purpose of the Mid-County program is to establish whether bikesharing is feasible in suburban centers outside a central city setting and whether bikesharing can provide a viable transportation option to low-income residents and employees.
Proposed locations for the bikeshare stations include the Rockville and Shady Grove Metro stations; Rockville Town Center; King Farm; Fallsgrove; the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center; Montgomery College, Rockville campus; The Universities at Shady Grove; and Johns Hopkins University, Montgomery County campus.
For the Downcounty bikeshare program, MCDOT received a $1,008,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation. The County also received $252,000 in private sector funding commitments to meet the requirement for local matching funds. The Downcounty system is expected to expand the reach of Metrorail and other transit; provide low-cost transportation options in the most urbanized and congested portion of Montgomery County; help get people out of their cars for short trips; and produce environmental and health benefits while enhancing economic activity.
Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations sited at publicly-accessible locations. Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another, creating a system that allows for one-way trips. Bikeshare is considered ideal for short trips of less than five miles. Trips under 30 minutes are included in the membership fee, while longer trips are charged based on their duration.
The Mid-County and Downcounty stations are expected to be installed by the end of the summer. More information on the region’s bikeshare system is available at www.capitalbikeshare.com.