Gaithersburg gears up for possible bikeshare program -- Gazette.Net


Glossy red bikes might soon be rolling into Gaithersburg streets, parks and plazas.

The Gaithersburg City Council is considering expanding the Capital Bikeshare program into the city. At a Mayor and Council work session meeting Monday, Anne Root, the county’s bikeshare program manager, spoke about how the program is already functioning throughout Montgomery County.

Lauren Pruss, Gaithersburg’s planning division chief, followed with a discussion on how to implement the program in the city.

Capital Bikeshare allows patrons to rent bikes for short trips and return them to another station. Membership fees vary based on usage time. Bikeshare users can register for 24-hour, three-day, 30-day or yearlong memberships.

With more than 300 stations and 2,600 bikes already in use, the program serves Washington, D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, and parts of Montgomery County.

In Gaithersburg, stations would be installed in a two-phase process, Pruss said. The first phase would include the construction of stations at the Olde Towne MARC train station, Lakeforest mall, Bohrer Park Activity Center, Quince Orchard Plaza, the Metropolitan Grove MARC train station, Downtown Crown, RIO Washingtonian Center and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Future bikeshare stations would include 12 more sites such as Washingtonian North, the Casey Community Center, Main Street in the Kentlands and Asbury Methodist Village, Pruss said.

Up-front capital costs for each station hover around $55,000, meaning the cost for the 20 proposed stations would add up to nearly $1.1 million, Pruss said. Annual operating costs for all 20 stations would total to $457,200 and periodic costs for equipment replacement would be $254,540.

Since no funding has been set aside by Gaithersburg for the program, Pruss said the city could explore grants, public/private partnerships, bond bills and transportation impact fees to cover the costs.

Mayor Sidney Katz said the discussion was a “good first step,” but added that the city is still determining if the program will be a worthwhile addition to Gaithersburg.

“I think we’re on the right track to consider [the bikes],” he said. “We certainly need to see if people would use them.”

Calling the costs a “concern,” Katz said the city would need to look into a variety of funding options. Pointing to the county’s money contributions to the existing bikeshare locations in areas like Rockville, Bethesda and Silver Spring, Katz said he would like to see if the county would cover a portion of the price tag if the stations were in county-approved locations.

The county’s program currently has a list of qualifications that each site must meet in order to house a station, such as good visibility, easy accessibility and close proximity to transit or major employment sites.

“If a place meets the county’s criteria to put [a station] in, then perhaps the county should give us some of the funding for that.”

Rockville resident Eddie Brosnan said he rides a Capital Bikeshare bike to work at Rockville Town Square every day unless it’s snowing. He’s been pedaling the nearly two-mile round-trip commute since the bikeshare racks were installed near his home and work about five months ago.

“I don’t have a car. I don’t have a driver’s license. I use Capital Bikeshare to get where I’m going,” Brosnan said. “It’s really convenient and useful as an alternative form of transportation.”

City staff will now begin looking for funding opportunities and examining feasibility for the first phase of station sites, according to Pruss. A date has not yet been set for the next discussion.