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Fairfax County is evaluating whether to launch a pilot bikeshare program in Reston that would mark the first expansion of the Capital Bikeshare network into the county.

The Capital Bikeshare system, which began in Washington, D.C., and Arlington County about three years ago, now has more than 300 bikeshare stations in the District, Arlington, the City of Alexandria and Montgomery County. There have been more than 6 million trips on the system in that time.

Bike sharing systems are intended for a different use than how a bike owner might use his bike or services that rent bikes for leisure rides, said Fionnuala Quinn, an engineer with Alta Planning and Design, which is conducting a feasibility study for starting Bikeshare in Reston.

“It is quite different to owning a bicycle,” she said. “It’s an extension of the transit network.”

The goal is to help people get the last couple miles from a transit center to their destination. For example, from the Wiehle Avenue Metro Station opening later this year to Reston Town Center or Lake Anne Village Center.

Capital Bikeshare members pay $75 per year, with monthly, three-day and daily rates also available. The first 30 minutes of any ride has no additional cost, and then the 30-minute rate increases the longer you keep the bike.

“You don’t want people using the bikes for hours at a time,” said Charlie Denney, also with Alta Planning and Design.

Reston was selected as a possible pilot location because it already has some good bike routes and sufficient density in some areas to support bikeshare, said Charlie Strunk, the county’s bicycle program coordinator.

The county also considered other urbanizing areas, like Tysons Corner and Merrifield, Strunk said.

The feasibility study is funded with a grant from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. It is looking at whether Reston is ready to support bikeshare, as well as evaluating possible locations for bike stations and options for funding the system.

Capital Bikeshare is owned by the participating local governments and operated by Alta Bicycle Share, a company based in Portland, Ore., that operates bikeshare systems throughout North America.

Arlington County was expecting about two-thirds of the operating costs to be covered by user fees and sponsorships, according to its Capital Bikeshare plan, with the county covering the remaining costs. It estimated about a $1.5 million cost to operate the Arlington portion of the system this year.

There are also up-front capital costs for installing the stations, and ongoing capital costs for major maintenance on the system.

Strunk said that the City of Falls Church is also exploring bikeshare, which could lead to a natural westward expansion from Arlington to Falls Church to Merrifield and Tysons.

The Reston feasibility study is expected to be completed by late spring.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com