Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ft. Belvoir considering bike sharing

With the success of Capital Bikeshare, many communities and organizations are looking at the feasibility of using bike sharing for short trips. Ideally new bike share stations would be integrated into a larger system. However, even in some suburban communities independent bike sharing systems could work if there is a critical mass of users, bikes, and stations.

Ft. Belvoir, a large military installation in southern Fairfax Co. that straddles Route 1, is looking into the feasibility of using bike sharing for short trips on the base. The base extends about 5 miles in a north-south direction and less than 2 miles east-west. Many employees arrive via transit and have difficulty traveling within the base during the day. Bike sharing is one solution:
The installation is working with MetroBike, a bike-sharing consultant company, on an initiative that would create a network of cycles for people to use as transportation to various locations on post such as offices and eateries.

"The long-term goal is to have stations spread out about five minutes apart from each location," said Juanita Green, garrison transportation demand management coordinator. No start date is set for this initiative but Green expects Belvoir to have the transportation method in the near future. According to Paul DeMaio, founder and managing member of MetroBike, bike-sharing is a short term transit rental service.

According to Green, Fort Belvoir, which is significantly smaller than D.C. and Arlington, would likely have a scaled down version of the Capital Bikeshare network. Green said the garrison’s system would have docks close to offices, businesses and recreational locations for employees and residents.

The transportation method could help mass transit commuters travel to meetings, lunch and shuttle pick-ups throughout the work day. Biking could also be an alternative for community members traveling to places on post such as fitness centers and convenience stores.

Green expects Belvoir to start the program slow with stations potentially located at 12th Street, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the 300 area. The ultimate number of bicycles and docks would depend on funding and demand.

"I would like to see it all through the installation as a means of transportation for employees," Green said. "A lot of them using mass transit don’t have means internally to travel around post." The transit method could have a number of long-term benefits to the installation.

Bike-sharing would reduce the number of vehicles on the road which reduces congestion, accidents and car emissions. Daily ridership is also a form of exercise. "It’s introducing bicycling to people who haven’t been on a bike since they were a child," DeMaio said of bike-sharing’s popularity in other areas of the country.

The garrison’s next step is to acquire assistance from directorate and tenant organizations on post for funding and maintenance support of any future network of bikes.

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