The City of Rockville has announced that Capital Bikeshare is coming to Rockville in early fall with 13 bike stations through a partnership with Montgomery County. Capital Bikeshare is a network of bicycle-sharing stations that provides access to bikes and offers an alternative to driving. Check out a bike for your trip to work, run errands, go shopping, explore a neighborhood, head to a park, or visit friends and family.
Through bikesharing, cyclists can rent a bike from a designated station and drop it off at any other station within the Capital Bikeshare network. The program currently has more than 1,800 bikes at over 200 stations in circulation across Washington, D.C. and Virginia. It’s been incredibly popular in Washington, DC with both residents and tourists, and I’m happy to see it come into Rockville.
The bike stations in Rockville will be some of the first locations for Capital Bikeshare in Maryland. Proposed locations in Rockville include:
- Campus Drive and Mannakee Street
- Piccard Drive and West Gude Drive
- Rockville Metro – East
- Rockville Metro – West
- Courthouse Square and East Montgomery Avenue
- Fallsgrove Drive and West Montgomery Avenue
- Fleet Street and Ritchie Parkway
- King Farm Boulevard and Piccard Drive
- King Farm Boulevard and Pleasant Drive
- Monroe Street and Monroe Place
- Spring Avenue and Lenmore Avenue
- Taft Street and East Gude Drive
- Fallsgrove Boulevard and Fallsgrove Drive
I’ve plotted these locations (plus Shady Grove Metro, which is outside of Rockville but will be part of the BikeShare network) on a bike-route-version of Google Maps to better understand the impact on and benefit to Rockville. Google Maps can identify bike routes, with a solid green line indicating a trail (“best”) and a dotted green line as “bike-friendly” (“good”). Folks may quibble about its accuracy, but it’s not essential for this discussion.
So how does the proposed Rockville network rate? For the most part, it’s a good start. Most stations connect popular destinations and are located where residents and tourists can easily find them. Rockville Metro and downtown are ideal places, for example. A bit unclear is the station at Taft and East Gude (who’s going to use a station in this industrial zone?) or the presence of four stations downtown so close to each other (a station on either side of the Regal Theater and a station on either side of Metro). There’s probably a rationale, but it’s not obvious to me.
It certainly is not a good place to end the project. As currently planned, the stations will only exist north of Wooton Parkway/Norbeck Road. That’s due to the funding. According to Kevin Belanger, transportation planner/bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the City of Rockville, “the bikeshare project is coordinated by Montgomery County with assistance from the City of Rockville. The portion of the project in and around Rockville is designed to serve the Shady Grove TDM (Transportation Demand Management) area. This project is partially funded by a state and federal grant, and therefore it must be used in this location and cannot be extended to areas as far south as Twinbrook. At the current time, neither the City nor the County has plans to expand the system into the Twinbrook area.”
Okay, I understand funding limitations, but if it can only be used in the Shady Grove TDM, how about swapping a downtown station for another at Woodley Gardens Park, Dogwood Park, or the Swim Center? Or swapping the outlying station on East Gude Drive?
And the City has NO plans to expand into Twinbrook? Umm, Mayor and Council, you might want to reconsider that decision. We should have a Bikeshare program that’s actively used throughout Rockville, especially at all three of our Metro stations. This is a great start for a holistic system, so let’s make this phase one. Here’s phase two: build a network around the Twinbrook Metro station and Civic Center Park (with Glenview, Fitzgerald Theater, and the Nature Center) with their connections to the Rock Creek and Bethesda Trolley trails–and you already have a potential partner.
The JBG Companies are interested in bringing Capital Bikeshare to Twinbrook. According to Tony Greenberg of JBG, “We are very much in favor of expanding Capital Bikeshare (we even piloted a bike share program in Twinbrook with the help of Revolution Cycles a few years back). In general, we’re in favor of expanded transportation choice, and think Capital Bikeshare would add tremendous value to neighborhoods like Twinbrook and Rockville Town Square, as well as making the transit system more accessible.” Of course, it’ll provide an ideal amenity for their development projects, but hey, if we’re both interested in the same goal, let’s find a way to collaborate.
Again, I’m delighted that Capital Bikeshare is coming to Rockville. Let’s be sure it’s the start of a larger effort and that it isn’t limited to downtown and the north end of the city. You’re welcome to share your comments below, but more importantly send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about the Capital Bikeshare program at an upcoming meeting held by the county on Wednesday, June 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Executive Office Building Lobby Auditorium, 101 Monroe St. (where a future Capital BikeShare station will be located).