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Residents weigh in on potential Fairfax County bikeshare

On Aug.18, Ally Pregulman, a 25-year-old Adams Morgan resident, was biking over to a friend\'s house to make him dinner. At the time, she wasn\'t aware that she \'rider number 5 million.\' (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Capital Bikeshare is on track to expand to Fairfax County and a public meeting this week will give neighbors in Reston, Va. a chance to weigh in.

“‘Will it work in Reston?’ and then, if so, how many stations, how many bikes, where should the stations go, things like that,” Fairfax County Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Coordinator Charlie Strunk says of the questions being asked.

A consultant will present preliminary findings Wednesday night at Lake Anne Elementary School as part of an open house.

Part of the consultant’s final report in May focuses on how many bikes and docks are needed in Reston to make the program work, but “at this phase, we’re looking for ideas on where the stations should go, maybe where they shouldn’t go, if there [are] people who feel strongly about stations in their vicinity or their neighborhoods,” Strunk says.

The county wants the new bikesharing options in Reston, and eventually elsewhere in the county, to be a part of the regional Capital Bikeshare system, but that creates some challenges for the company in charge of Capital Bikeshare operations.

“We’re pretty far removed from Arlington and D.C., so they’ve got issues that they’d need to address. Bicycle balancing is a big thing, their repair schedule. So, they very possibly would have to look at an operations center farther out than Southeast D.C. to handle the Reston bikes so that’s something that’s on their plate,” Strunk says.

“We are probably realistically two years away from implementation and that would be the most optimistic schedule,” Strunk adds.

The barriers include working out station locations, which are currently limited to public rights of way, and lining up equipment and other logistics.

“It’s not a cheap system and we want to make sure we don’t set ourselves up for failure, so we’re looking at a phased approach. We’re probably going to look at the core of Reston first, and then build out from there,” Strunk says.

“When we started this, the No. 1 area was Tysons. Everyone said with the redevelopment of Tysons, is Capital Bikeshare coming to Tysons? I think it will, but Tysons isn’t ready yet, whereas I think Reston is a good choice for this demo study, and the other area that popped up on the list was the Merrifield-Dunn Loring corridor too. We think if Reston works then Dunn Loring-Merrifield could be the next one in line,” he adds.

Another potential roadblock or delay comes from the bankruptcy of Bixi, the company that supplies the new bikes and docks for Capital Bikeshare and several other bikesharing systems across North America.

Capital Bikeshare says existing bikes and docks will continue operating as usual, but there could be an impact on expansion.

“We don’t know specifics on how or if the bankruptcy filing will impact our capital purchases, but it will not impact operations,” District Department of Transportation’s Reggie Sanders says.

“If the Bixi situation is still out there six to nine months from now then it could possibly impact us, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Strunk says.

The open house is Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Lake Anne Elementary School cafeteria at 11510 North Shore Drive, Reston, Va.

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