While county transportation officials are pedaling a bikeshare proposal for either end of Metro’s Red Line, Rockville is gearing up for a bikeshare program that could debut as soon as next year.
In June, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board approved a $1.3 million Job Access and Reverse Commute program grant .
Capital Bikeshare will operate the program. Population density and proximity to Washington, D.C.—where a program is already in place—made Rockville the logical choice for the county's first bikeshare program, said Sandra Brecher, the chief of commuter services for Montgomery County. The program's expansion is following the Red Line.
“There are many benefits to building the sharing stations by a Metro stop,” Brecher said. “A cyclist can safely ride to the station without worrying about what could happen to their bike were they to leave it behind. Bicycles are not allowed on the Metro during rush hour, so this provides a convenient way for people to travel when there is not an option to bring your bike with you.”
John Telesco, a member of the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee, said that because Rockville is a largely urban area surrounded by suburbs, bike sharing would be of great use. “I will definitely be using it, and I think it will catch on,” Telesco said.
The Rockville City Council has been very supportive, setting aside $100,000 for the program in each of the city's past three budgets, Brecher said.
Despite the support, costs remain. In approving the grant, the Federal Transportation Administration stated that bikes were not eligible for federal funds under that program.
Finding bike station locations that blend convenience and practicality also has proven difficult.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of areas that can’t accommodate the large stations,” Brecher said. “D.C. and Arlington have big sidewalks, which make the placements easy, but local sidewalks are much narrower and can’t fit the station without disturbing the natural flow and causing inconveniences. Paying for the use of private property is the most likely solution.”
In spite of the hurdles, the community is excited to welcome bikesharing, officials said.
Gary R. Erenrich, the director of the county transportation department’s special assistant for Metro affairs, said that he has faith in the program and is pleased that it is expanding.
“We’ve got a good amount of backbone,” Erenrich said. “And I am certain that we are starting an excellent system.”