The Maryland Department of Transportation announced yesterday that Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation has received a $1,008,000 grant for a proposed bike share program for the downcounty areas of Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring. In addition, during its regular session, the Maryland legislature approved a bill that will provide a $250,000 bond to the bike share program. The grant and bond will help pay for a portion of the construction and equipment costs for 50 bikeshare docking stations and 350 bikes. Montgomery County has also received $252,000 in private sector funding commitments towards the cost of bikesharing stations in the downcounty , pending assurance that the bikeshare network will be established.
"Bikesharing can be a cost-effective way of providing transportation connections that reduce the need to drive for short trips and reduce traffic congestion,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “We are very grateful to the State of Maryland for their assistance in helping us jumpstart a bikeshare program in our downcounty, which will expand transit options for 360,000 residents.”
The downcounty bikeshare program would build on the success of the Capital Bikeshare program in Washington D.C. and Arlington, which, in its first 18 months, logged more than 1.5 million bike trips. The downcounty system is expected to expand the reach of Metrorail and other transit; provide low-cost transportation options in the most urbanized and congested portion of Montgomery County; help get people out of their cars for short trips; and produce environmental benefits while enhancing economic activity.
Last year, Montgomery County received funding for 20 bikeshare stations and 200 bikes in the Rockville and Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center area through a Federal Transit Administration Job Access Reverse Commute Grant to serve low income reverse commuters and job trainees. The Rockville/Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center and downcounty bikeshare programs together will foster bikeshare/transit connections for residents and employees traveling between downcounty and upcounty and improve access to Metrorail, MARC and MTA bus services.
Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations sited at publicly accessible locations. Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another, creating a system that allows for one-way trips. Bikeshare is considered ideal for short trips of less than five miles. Trips under 30 minutes are included in the membership fee, while longer trips are charged based on their duration.
It is estimated that about $500,000 in annual operating and maintenance costs will be needed for the program, a portion of which will be offset by membership fees and private sector sponsorships. The total cost for the downcounty system stations and bikes is estimated at $2.15 million.
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