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Fairfax County pedaling for more cyclists

Saturday - 8/24/2013, 9:04am  ET

WASHINGTON -- Cyclists are hitting the road in growing numbers across the Washington area and a new push in Fairfax County could convince even more people to pedal their way around.

In addition to doubling the number of bike lanes in the county over the last few years and a new interactive map of bike routes, the county is starting a feasibility study looking at joining Capital Bikeshare. Despite many requests from other parts of the county, the study is only focused on the Reston area.

"We get calls all the time like ‘is Capital Bikeshare coming to Chantilly?' ‘Is Capital Bikeshare coming to Sully District' ‘Is Capital Bikeshare coming to the Fair Lakes Hyatt?'Capital Bikeshare is not going to work in those places, but there are other options," says Charlie Strunk, Fairfax County Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Coordinator.

"We chose Reston first because we feel as though we have the densities, the corporate base, and the Silver Line stations," Strunk says.

"We've been toying with Capital Bikeshare, Arlington's doing it, D.C. of course is doing it, Alexandria, Montgomery County - it takes a special area, special density to make it work," he adds. "Tysons is obviously a good choice, Dunn Loring-Merrifield with the Mosaic District is also another good choice."

Even the Reston bikes will not be rolling any time soon. "Realistically, I think it's going to be at least two years," Strunk says. Some Fairfax County leaders had hoped bikesharing would be available in time for the Silver Line's opening early next year.

The program could expand later, but expanding Bikeshare to Reston does create some significant challenges since the area is so far removed from the rest of the system.

Capital Bikeshare has employees who drive vans to rebalance bikes to stations across the system. If Bikeshare is launched in Reston, it seems likely it would act as an almost self-contained system until other stations are added in other parts of Fairfax County.

The county recently installed about 50 signs in the McLean area that are aimed at helping cyclists on their own bikes find their way around. Strunk says it is a pilot program that could be mirrored in other parts of the county.

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