Bikeshare Stations in the Works for Friendship Heights

Chevy Chase Patch June 1, 2012

Now that $1.2 million in funds have been secured from the Maryland Department of Transportation to start a bikeshare program in lower Montgomery County, the planning work can really begin.

Twenty-nine bikeshare stations—with about 200 bikes—are slated to be built along the branches of the Red Line—in Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Takoma Park and Forest Glen.

And, with the MDOT funds—plus a $250,000 bond for the program approved by the Maryland General Assembly and $252,000 in private sector funding commitments—it’s time to begin the detailed planning process, said Sandra Brecher, chief of Montgomery County Commuter Services, at a meeting of the Friendship Heights Transportation Management District Advisory Committee last week.

“Now we need to get into the details of siting these [bikeshare] stations and order the equipment and get the word out” about bikesharing in lower Montgomery County, Brecher said.

Friendship Heights is still about a year away from getting bikeshare stations, though.

“Montgomery County DOT will be doing the detailed planning within the next few months, but the timing is probably about a year before this would be up [and] running,” said Esther Bowring, a county spokeswoman, Patch reported earlier this month.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is now working to secure funds to operate the system, Brecher said.

The system is expected to cost the county about $500,000 a year to operate and maintain. Some of that will be offset by membership fees and private sponsorships, Patch previously reported. Much of the operating cost goes into the continual redistribution of bikes among the stations—a labor-intensive task required to make the bikeshare system effective, Brecher said.

The Chevy Chase Land Company is one of the county transportation department’s key private sector partners, and has offered to pay for two stations—one in Friendship Heights and the other in Bethesda. The land company’s pledge enabled the county transportation department to come up with the matching funds needed to secure the state transportation department’s grant of $1.2 million, Brecher added.

The county transportation department is hoping that a regional sponsor will provide additional funding for the system, Brecher said.

The 29 bikeshare stations in lower Montgomery County will comprise only the first phase of the bikeshare project. A second phase will boost that number to 50 stations, but additional funding will be needed to plan for the other stations, Bowring added.

Some stations may be located on property owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Brecher said.

The bikeshare program will be an expansion of Capital Bikeshare, which currently operates in Washington, DC, and Arlington, VA.



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