BETHESDA, Md. – As Capital Bikeshare stations are popping up in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Takoma Park, an event to formally launch the program is set for the end of September.
“To see that it’s going to be close to my house is great. This would actually cut down my commute because it takes me 20 minutes to walk from my house to Metro and this would cut it down by at least 10 minutes. So I’m super excited to see Bikeshare in Bethesda,” says Stephanie Kara-Jordan, who works near the Metro Center station.
“I’ve been actually following Bikeshare online, so I knew it was coming soon. But when I saw the station here, I said to myself ‘Oh it’s really close. That’s great!’ I’m very happy it’s at a location I can walk to and hop on a bike,” she says after taking pictures of a station outside the Elm Street garage.
Other Bethesda stations are already installed at Norfolk Street at Fairmont Avenue and Cordell Avenue.
In total, 51 Capital Bikeshare stations will be installed in Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center with a combined 500 bicycles.
Montgomery County transportation officials concede that not all 51 stations will necessarily be open after the initial launch, but all should be available soon after.
Dan Reed of Silver Spring, who’s a transit advocate, says he is very excited about the program launch as well.
“Since all of the stations in Silver Spring, Bethesda and Takoma Park are in the downtown area, I might use them to run errands like if I had something to do on one side of downtown and wanted to go to the other side of downtown, or if I want to go from Silver Spring to Bethesda or Takoma Park I might do that instead of driving there,” he says.
Reed said he’d be interested in bicycling from Silver Spring to Friendship Heights, eventually connecting up with the Capital Bikeshare system in the District of Columbia. Other bicyclists at the Action Committee for Transit of Montgomery County agreed that such a trip would interest them.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be very favorably received. Other communities have had very favorable responses and I think our community will as well,” says Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, D-District 1.
“We really do want to become a very bikeable community and I think we’re on the path towards that result,” he says.
Scott Brownell noticed the new stations during a roundtrip on his bicycle from Alexandria to Bethesda and back.
“It’s nice that they’re expanding it. Bikeshare used to be just in D.C. and they’ve taken it near my home in Alexandria. I think it’s also a good idea that they’re bringing it here because now you can get to more places with it,” he says.
While Montgomery County officials will not give a specific launch date, WTOP has learned it will be after County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett and members of the County Council return from a 10-day trip to China beginning next week.
Leggett returns on Sept. 24, which means the formal event will take place on a weekday between then and Sept. 30. Regardless of the specific date, it means bicyclists will only have to wait another two weeks.
“I feel as we kick start the effort towards a more bikeable community we will evolve organically. When you start putting more bikes on the road, then you will see what you have to do and where you have to do it to make the experience safe for riders,” says Berliner.
Montgomery County transportation officials are working on how to enhance safety for the new riders, including bike lanes in certain locations and shared lane markings, also known as sharrows, to remind motorists that they have to share the road.
“I’m super excited. I have a bike, but I prefer the convenience of walking down the street and on a whim get on a bike. I have my [key] fob on me at all times, so to be able to grab a bike is awesome,” says Kara-Jordan.