Friday, December 20, 2013

Reston bike share meeting

Approximately 25 people attended a meeting to discuss the feasibility of starting a bike share system in Reston. Fairfax County received funds to conduct a feasibility study and recently awarded a contract to Alta Planning + Design. The county also received $400,000 from MWCOG that can be used as startup funds for implementing a system.

Supervisor Hudgins kicked off the meeting by discussing the importance of biking as a transportation option in Reston, and that Reston is an ideal community for bike sharing with our system of paths that connect the village center and future Metro stations.

Representatives from the business community, VDOT, Fairfax County, Reston Pedestrian and Bicycling Committee, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Reston Association, Reston Town Center Association, FABB, and others attended. Alta reps and Chris Eatough of BikeArlington gave an overview of bike sharing in general, and they discussed the Capital Bikeshare system (CaBi) which is operated by Alta Bikeshare, one of Alta Planning's partners. CaBi is currently located in DC, Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery County.

Bike sharing can be a great supplement to an existing transit system. It allows visitors and residents to get around Reston without the need to drive for short trips. Someone working in Reston Town Center would be able to take Metro to the Wiehle-Reston East station, check out a bike, ride to the Town Center, then dock the bike and not worry about parking or security. Short trips under 30 minutes are "free" by being included in the annual membership cost of $75. Monthly, Daily, 3-day, and Daily Key options are also available.

An extensive support infrastructure is needed to operate a successful bike sharing system. Bikes need to be maintained on a regular basis. Since some stations are more popular than others, the balance of bikes at various stations needs to be adjusted according to use. Alta Bikeshare uses a warehouse for maintenance and storage and they use several vehicles for rebalancing. Since Reston is not physically close to the rest of the system, there would be a need for a remote maintenance facility and rebalancing vehicle, similar to what is used in Rockville, which has 16 stations and is also not contiguous to the existing system.

The group discussed various challenges to implementing a system in Reston including the need for better bicycle infrastructure, finding sponsors to supplement county funds, variable terrain, and residents who don't often think of taking short trips by bike. The group also discussed possible locations for future stations including the new Silver Line stations, Reston Town Center, Village Centers, major employers, Plaza America, International Center, high density residential complexes, and park and ride lots.

A community meeting on the feasibility of bike sharing in Reston is planned in January.

This article is cross-posted on Reston Patch.

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