Dan Gross/The Gazette
Officials participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the grand opening of Capital Bikeshare in Montgomery County.
Fifteen shiny new bikes lined up, ready to roll, as the county unveiled its 14 Capital Bikeshare stations Friday.
The first Capital Bikeshare station in Maryland opened in Rockville with city and state officials hosting a grand opening event at the station, located at the corner of Maryland and Montgomery avenues.
The Rockville station is one of 14 stations opening in Montgomery County Friday with 51 total planned to span the area. The expansion of Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., marks the first bike-sharing program in Maryland. The network includes stations on both sides of Metro's Red Line inside the Beltway, and stations clustered around the Rockville and Shady Grove Metro stations.
“The sturdy red bikes are finally rolling into Bethesda, Rockville, and Silver Spring,” said Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda, chairman of the Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “This is a significant step in creating a less car-centric culture. We want an environment that encourages healthier and greener mobility options and Bikeshare does just that.”
Steve Friedman, a member of the county's Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, biked up to the bikeshare launch, saying the advisory committee was happy to put its weight behind the program.
“We support it and recognized the value of it,” Friedman said while sitting atop his own bicycle.
To use the bikes, memberships for 24 hours or three days can be bought with a credit card directly at the station and monthly and yearlong memberships can be purchased online or over the phone. Within the membership time, bikes can be used free of charge as many times as necessary for 30-minute increments, with longer trips costing a small fee.
One of the main draws of the program is that, unlike traditional bike rentals, bikes don't have to be returned to the same place they were picked up. Instead, renters can leave the bike at the most convenient station to their travels.
Maryland Secretary of Transportation James Smith attended Friday's event, praising the county for taking the initiative and saying Montgomery County residents and politicians always “show up, stand up and pay up” when they want something done.
“[Residents can] use mass transit to get to a location and the Bikeshare to get to their ultimate destination,” Smith said.
Safety was another theme of the grand opening, with many of the speakers commenting on bike paths and lanes and the safety manuals being handed out. Casey Anderson, a member of the Montgomery County Planning Board, suggested riders attend a $10 bicycle safety course being taught at Montgomery College.
A group of Richard Montgomery High School students passing by the Bikeshare celebration were interested in the program, but not enough to consider a membership. Though the teens said they didn't think they would ever really use it to travel anywhere specific, they all agreed they would consider using them as a fun group activity for a day.
To learn more about Capital Bikeshare or to sign up for one of six different membership options, visit www.capitalbikeshare.com.