Friday, June 27, 2014

Bikesharing is feasible in Reston, and Bicycle Master Plan meeting report

Reston Bikeshare Feasibility Study: On Wednesday Fairfax County held two bike-related meetings in Reston. The final results of the bike share feasibility study were released during the first part of the meeting. The consultant, Alta Planning + Design, concluded that bike sharing is feasible in Reston. 

Phase 1 would consist of 13 stations with 130 bikes, all but one station located north of the Toll Road, with most in the Town Center area. The station locations were determined based primarily on potential demand and the desire to reduce the space between stations.

Two stations would be located at the Wiehle-Reston East station, one on each side of the Toll Road. Most of the other stations would be clustered around the Reston Town Center. With an almost direct connection via the W&OD Trail between the Wiehle station and the Town Center, bike sharing is an ideal personal mobility option.

The logical vendor is Capital Bikeshare which operates systems in Arlington, Alexandria, DC, and Montgomery County. Fairfax could leverage existing infrastructure and contracts to create a suburban extension of that system. Even though a Reston operation is physically separated from other operations, there would not be a need for a new warehouse. A truck would be dedicated to rebalancing bikes; when a station is empty, filling in with bikes from a station with too many bikes.

The cost of Phase 1 is estimated to be $1.2 million, of which $54K is for Launch (startup costs), $766K for Capital (cost of stations, docks, bikes), and $397K for Operating costs. Not sure if this is for launch plus one year of operations or if the operating costs are for multiple years. I think it's for one year.

Phase 2 would include stations in the Lake Anne and South Lakes areas.

Challenges include the need for route way finding signage, snow removal in winter, access and proximity for low income users, funding for capital and operations, and putting stations on private property.

The system could be implemented within the next couple of years. One concern raised during the meeting was the lack of bike facilities on Reston roads. While Reston has an extensive trail network, direct routes to destinations are usually located on roads. The response was that implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan would help create a more bike-friendly environment. It was also noted that extensive pedestrian and bike projects are included in the proposed 2014 Transportation Bond referendum, although none of the projects in the Bond would improve conditions for traveling between the proposed stations.

Adam Lind of FCDOT is the project manager. Fionnuala Quinn and Charlie Denney presented for Alta. Supervisor Hudgins and Tom Biesiadny, head of Fairfax DOT, were present. Approximately 25-30 people attended.

The final report is not yet completed. The delivery date is June 30 and sometime after that the report will be on the county website. There were no handouts and no information is yet available on the county website.

See an earlier Reston Patch article on our views on bikesharing in Reston. Most of the station locations we suggested were deemed too spread out to be feasible in Phase 1.

Bicycle Master Plan - Charlie Strunk presented an overview of the plan similar to his presentation to the Board on May 6 and a longer presentation on September 17, 2013. Bob Patten of Toole Design Group, the plan consultant, was also present. The Planning Commission public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 1 and the Board of Supervisors hearing is on October 28. Paper copies of the bike facilities maps were available but there were no copies of the plan text or any handouts. Copies of the maps and plan text will be posted on the county website any day now. 

There was extensive discussion of how to make Wiehle Ave, from the new Wiehle-Reston East station north, more bike-friendly. With narrow lanes, a narrow trail, and steep terrain adjacent to the trail, options are limited.

When asked if the plan contains a prioritized list of future projects the answer was no. The plan provides overall guidance. The county recently completed a prioritization projects, the Countywide Dialogue on Transportation, to create a six year plan. That plan is updated annually and we think once the plan is adopted the next step for bicyclists is creation of a robust prioritized list of bike projects. A good start would be filling in the gaps on the Bicycle Route Map; converting the Less Preferred routes into Preferred routes and ensuring bike access to activity and transit centers.

FABB is encouraging bicyclists to support the Bicycle Master Plan and attend the public hearings to show that support. We are planning rides to the hearings.

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