Bikeshare rolls into Montgomery County, could bring changes for motorists

SILVER SPRING, Md. – Capital Bikeshare’s sturdy red bikes roll into Montgomery County on Friday.

Their arrival signals not only a new transportation option for local neighborhoods, but also a glimpse of changes still to come for drivers and pedestrians in the area.

The popular bike sharing program, already well established in the District and Arlington County, launches in Maryland with three locations: Silver Spring, Bethesda and downtown Rockville.

“We get it now,” says Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who started working toward the bike sharing program in 2007. “We have trails that were never completed, and so we have lots of very frustrated residents.”

Now, the influx of new bikes adds some urgency to shore up the county’s infrastructure to match the new demands for safe places to cycle.

“Our streets are not striped everywhere like they are in D.C., our motorists and our pedestrians are not used to sharing the roadways and the sidewalks yet and we have some very interesting laws that allow bicyclists to be on sidewalks with pedestrians,” Ervin says.

Also, she said she hopes for some uniform policies across the county that address issues like riding a bike on the sidewalk.

“Montgomery County is not as biker-friendly as Washington, D.C., and Arlington are, but we’re getting there quickly,” she says.

One significant change could affect those who prefer to get around on four wheels.

“For safety purposes we want to look at preventing right turns on red [lights] just in the most densely populated areas of the county,” Ervin says.

“We know that there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, but Montgomery County is growing up,” she says.

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