Berliner’s measures are two spokes in bikesharing effort -- Gazette.Net


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Two new measures before the Montgomery County Council should help bring bikesharing closer to a reality, its sponsor said.

Council President Roger Berliner introduced a zoning text amendment Tuesday aimed at making the process of building a bikeshare station simpler, and a bill that would allow transportation impact taxes to go to bikesharing.

Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations in publicly accessible locations. Itís considered ideal for short trips.

Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another.

Expected to begin next year, Montgomery looks to place about 50 bikeshare stations along both legs of Metroís Red Line starting around Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase, Forest Glen, Takoma Park and Bethesda, county spokeswoman Esther Bowring said previously.

To date, Montgomery has secured about $1 million in grant funding from the Maryland Department of Transportation for the first phase of the project and $252,000 more from the private sector.

The total cost for the first two phases of bikesharing is estimated at $2.15 million.

Berliner said Monday that Montgomery has lagged behind other jurisdictions in establishing a bikesharing program.

By allowing transportation impact taxes to go to the bikesharing, the county is encouraging private sector participation and helping to fill the remaining $1 million funding gap for the program.

Transportation impact taxes are collected from developers to ease traffic congestion and mitigate effects on infrastructure.

Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda has proposed regulatory changes to make it easier for a bikeshare station to be built.

County officials have questioned whether a bikeshare program risks increasing bicycle crashes.

Jurisdictions nationwide have reported bikesharing is not a large driver of cycling crashes or fatalities, according to documents by CountyStat, which provided data specific to bikesharing in seven jurisdictions across the country.

In areas where the Montgomery looks to pilot the program, police reported a high incidence of bicycle accidents in 2011.

Exactly what effect bikesharing would have in Montgomery still is to be evaluated, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said previously.

As the county nears the launch of the program, he said it will look at safety and education initiatives for cyclists as well as motorists and pedestrians and at where the county can engineer roads with features such as bike lanes to aid in safety.

A public hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 23.

kalexander@gazette.net