Capital Bikeshare is coming to Fairfax County. The county is planning to install bike stations in Reston, with the goal of having the program up and running in late 2016 or early 2017, a county official said.
The Reston area will be the latest in the Washington region to join the fast-growing bicycle-sharing network. Fairfax’s plan calls for 130 bikes at 13 bike stations in and around Reston Town Center, according to Adam Lind, bicycle program coordinator for the county. Stations are planned at the Plaza America Shopping Center, Reston Hospital Center and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.
Capital Bikeshare, in its fifth year and with more than 11 million trips, operates in the District and Alexandria, and Arlington and Montgomery counties. More recently, College Park had plans to join the growing network, but had to put its program on hold after one of the bike vendors filed for bankruptcy. And College Park earlier this year announced plans to launch its own small bike-share system that will serve the Route 1 corridor and the University of Maryland.
Fairfax officials say they see the value of being part of the larger regional system and project Capital Bikeshare potentially expanding within the county to Tysons and Merrifield. About 600 Capital Bikeshare members are county residents, Lind said.
“With the Silver Line, now everything is so interconnected. We really wanted to see the synergy of being able to live in D.C., take the train to Reston and get on a bike share and bike to your office in Reston Town Center or somewhere else in the area,” Lind said.
Bike advocates in Fairfax hope Bikeshare will have an impact on growing bike use in the county and increase awareness of cyclists on the roads where bike infrastructure is still lacking. The Reston area already has one of the largest bike communities of Fairfax, but it has only a couple of bike lanes.
“Bike conditions aren’t ideal here. But we have the trail, which runs through the center of the community,” said Bruce Wright, chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. He said the people who currently bike are probably more experienced bikers, though biking to the Wiehle station has become a popular option for many commuters. The station offers enclosed and secure bicycle parking with capacity for 200 bikes. Riders and advocates say they hope more bike paths and facilities will emerge as biking becomes more popular in the area.
“When bikeshare came to D.C. there were many fewer bike facilities and as more cyclists are seen on the roads, and more cyclists are demanding better facilities, there would be more incentives to make the roads more bike friendly,” said Wright, who lives in Reston and is a member of Capital Bikeshare. “That is part of what happened in the District and there is good potential for it happening here.”
And as Reston continues to grow, officials and riders see it shaping into a more urban setting with infrastructure that encourages biking as an alternative transportation option. Reston Town Center is home to 2.8 million square feet of office space, 50 shops, 30 restaurants and residential high-rises. The second phase of the Silver Line project will bring Metro closer to the Reston Town Center when it opens in 2020.
Although Fairfax has identified the 13 stations (see map below), the system is not expected to be up and running for at least a year, officials said.
The county is now designing the stations, and it has found some challenges.
“We don’t have wide sidewalks where we can just place stations,” Lind said. “We have do some construction work on the front end to build concrete paths for the stations to sit on.”
Meanwhile, he said, Fairfax is working with the other Capital Bikeshare member jurisdictions on a regional procurement that will result in a new contract with Motivate, the company that operates the system. Fairfax is expected to join sometime next year, Lind said.
He said the annual cost to operate all 13 stations is expected to be $400,000. The bicycles and the stations are projected to cost $740,000, according to a feasibility study released last year.
The county has received a state grant of $500,000 to help cover costs to start the program, Lind said. He said local funds would also be used, and the county expects memberships will help pay for the program..
“As we continue to build out the infrastructure we anticipate more people choosing to bike,” he said. “Everybody knows traffic is pretty congested throughout the region… One more person biking is one less person driving.”
Want to learn more about the plan? Fairfax will hold a community meeting about the project from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, at Dogwood Elementary School, 12300 Glade Drive, Reston.