County transportation officials and their Capital Bikeshare consultant on Monday detailed the Bethesda area’s 15 proposed station locations, though it’s likely a few will be adjusted because of conflicts with private land owners.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will own its portion of the Capital Bikeshare network, which it hopes to have set up and ready to use by Sept. 21, the last day of summer.
Monday’s public meeting was the first of three the county will host this week. MCDOT will also hold meetings tonight in Silver Spring, where there will be another 15-station network, and on Wednesday in Rockville, where officials hope a Bikeshare network can connect people to job and research centers around Rockville, Montgomery College and Shady Grove.
Users will be able to take the bikes to existing stations in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria.
Now, here’s a station-by-station look at where you’ll likely be able to find Capital Bikeshare in Bethesda and what proposed station locations might change:
Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road: This Bethesda Row station should be one of the busiest, said Paul DeMaio, a consultant with Metro Bike who helped develop the Capital Bikeshare system and helped the county select the station locations. The stop won’t be at the actual intersection.
Instead, it will be installed in the unused driveway leading into the Bethesda Ave.-Elm St. public parking garage (also known as Garage 57), behind the planters that are there today. (See photo above.)
Cordell and Woodmont Avenues: DeMaio said this location will likely change because the private property owner is not on-board. The plan was for the station to be installed on the north side of Cordell Avenue just in front of The Palisades of Bethesda apartments.
Elm and 47th Streets (Elm Street Park): This station will be installed on the north side of Elm Street Park, near the outdoor tables and tunnel entrance that takes the Capital Crescent Trail/Georgetown Branch Trail under Wisconsin Avenue. (See photo above.)
Chevy Chase Drive and Offut Lane: The station is meant to service the residents of the many apartment complexes south of Bradley Boulevard, but residents at the meeting said speeding drivers could cause problems. The station is proposed for what’s now a grassy area on the northwest corner of the intersection. There are also concerns about a school bus stop that one resident said would have to share that corner.
Montgomery Lane and East Lane: The land for this station was donated by the Chevy Chase Land Company, which also paid for the equivalent of two of the stations. They cost $46,000 each to install and between $25,000 and $27,000 to operate. It will provide access to the back-end of the Bethesda Metro station bus bays. If you’re looking for landmarks, think half-a-block west of Tommy Joe’s. (See photo above.)
Montgomery Avenue and Waverly Street: There is a bulb-out near the public parking garage Transportation officials will take advantage of to install this station. It is a block east of the 2nd District Montgomery County Police Station.
Norfolk and Fairmont Avenues: The “Veterans Park” stop, this central Woodmont Triangle station location is planned for the sidewalk directly across from the intersection of Fairmont and Norfolk Avenues.
Norfolk and Rugby Avenues: It’s one of three planned Woodmont Triangle station locations and it will provide access to the Bethesda Trolley Trail that begins across the street in Battery Lane Park.
Old Georgetown Road and Lincoln Drive: DeMaio and county officials want a station at Suburban Hospital and NIH that also provides a place for Bethesda Trolley Trail users to stash their bikes. But the original proposal, in the Suburban Hospital front parking lot, was apparently nixed by the hospital. DeMaio said the county is looking for another nearby location.
Battery Lane and Trolley Trail: The county is going to take away 1.5 street parking spaces to accomodate this station, at the north end of Battery Lane Park along the Trail that will also provide direct access to bike lanes on each side of Battery Lane.
Wisconsin Avenue and East-West Highway: This will likely be the most-used station in the Bethesda network. DeMaio said it will have 19 bike docks and it will be on the sidewalk up against the stairs and escalator that lead down to the bus-bay level of the Bethesda Metro station. (See photo above.)
Wisconsin Avenue and South Drive: The precise location isn’t quite clear, but this station will serve the Medical Center Metro station. The county is hoping for the west side of Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike in or around the Metro station kiss-and-ride, though it must still work out the particulars with NIH and WMATA. It could potentially go in a grassy median that separates the bus area from the main sidewalk.
River Road and Capital Crescent Trail: One of the most interesting proposed locations because of its distance from the other stations in the network. It is the farthest removed, roughly a mile from the closest station in the downtown Bethesda area and a mile from the closest Friendship Heights area station. Officials are hoping for a location behind the shopping center that includes the Whole Foods grocery store, but ongoing construction may be an issue.
Wisconsin Avenue and Wisconsin Circle: The second Chevy Chase Land Company-donated station will also serve as the Friendship Heights Metro station stop, though some residents on Monday thought the area would be too constricted with existing pedestrian foot traffic and buses. The station would require the removal and replanting of two six- to seven-foot trees at the southeast corner of the intersection. DeMaio said the station will still allow for a 10-foot walkway. Officials could not locate the station on the Western Avenue side because the D.C. border actually runs up to the buildings on the north side of the road.
Willard Avenue and Friendship Boulevard: The station will be on the sidewalk at this intersection. Seniors from that part of the area have said before that Bikeshare will put bikers in conflict with pedestrians on sidewalks. One resident did echo that sentiment at the meeting on Monday. Bicyclists can ride on both the street and sidewalk legally.
Sandra Brecher, from MCDOT, said the county is aware of of the Department of Labor inquiry into Portland, Ore.,-based contractor Alta Bicycle Share, which operates the D.C., Arlington and Alexandria systems and will run Montgomery County’s system. Alta workers in D.C. claimed they were underpaid.
Capital Bikeshare is the first regional bike-transit system, according to DeMaio. It’s no longer the largest. New York City recently debuted their Citi Bike system, but DeMaio said once Montgomery County is added, it will cover a larger area than New York’s bikeshare.
Check out Capital Bikeshare for rates and more detailed instructions on how to use stations and bikes.