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Capital Bikeshare arrives in Fairfax County

Bikes on bikes on bikes. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)

Bike-sharing rolls into Fairfax County on Friday as nearly 30 Capital Bikeshare stations open for business.

The region’s distinctive red bicycles will be found along Metro’s Silver Line in Tysons and Reston, in a sweeping expansion of the fast-growing bicycle-sharing network.

The county’s network includes 128 bikes at 15 bike stations in and around Reston Town Center, the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, the Reston YMCA and Reston Hospital Center. The Tysons network feature 94 bikes at 14 stations serving Silver Line stations, employment centers, and shopping and recreation destinations.

“More people are starting to live there. More people are working there. There is a lot of development coming. And we have to provide options outside of single-occupancy trips by car. Otherwise the traffic is going to get really bad,” said Adam Lind, bicycle program coordinator for the county.

The bike program, which the county invested $1.7 million to launch, is designed to provide a last-mile connection. In other words, commuters can use Bikeshare to get to and from the Metro. For some, the bike option could turn a 20-minute walk from Metro to the office into a 5-minute ride, Lind said.

In a county that is still very car-focused, officials hope residents will switch to bikes for short trips to to run errands or to meet friends.

“This is a way for people to get around,” Lind said. “A way to replace the short car trips with bike trips.”

Capital Bikeshare, in its sixth year, operates in the District and Alexandria, and Arlington and Montgomery counties.

Capital Bikeshare has about 600 members in Fairfax and Reston already has one of the largest bike communities in the county, officials said. Biking to Wiehle Metro 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.

In Tysons, the county last year built several bike lanes along the Silver Line stations where the arrival of Metro has ignited significant development. Lind said the county plans to invest another $2 million to expand Capital Bikeshare in the next few years when the more Silver Line stations open in Reston and Herndon. The second phase of the Silver Line, slated to open in 2020, includes a Metro station at Reston Town Center.

Advocates 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.