On April 24, the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.