In Washington, D.C., bikeshare has been a hit. Bikeshare stations are everywhere throughout the city and you’ll see anyone from tourists to suit-wearing federal employees riding them around the city. Since its opening in 2010, Capital Bikeshare has added 1,100 bikes in more than 130 locations. Now, the company is looking to expand into suburbia.
This summer Capital Bikeshare is looking to expand to places like Rockville and Alexandria, and eventually inner-ring suburbs like Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and others. The Washington Post reports on the challenge of making the transition to the ‘burbs:
The purpose of Bikeshare is to provide an alternative to driving, primarily to and from work. The challenge of suburban expansion is to introduce the program to communities large and compact enough to make a “short-hop” bike service viable. In Bethesda, for example, Bikeshare riders might pedal around town or to and from Metro stations into the District.
Not surprisingly, another key to making bikeshare successful in the suburbs is quality bike infrastructure, Shane Farthing, director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, tells the Post:
“I do think that the next places that come along are going to have to step it up a little bit to make sure that conditions are right, that people are safe, that there’s space for people to bike, and that drivers and cyclists are educated on how to ride responsibly,” Farthing said. [...]
“The District and Arlington were the places that had the most [bike] infrastructure, and it was a good place to test whether bike share, as a concept, worked,” Farthing said. “I don’t think that other jurisdictions can just assume that that groundwork was unimportant. There needs to be some intensive investment accompanying bike share that will bring things up to a standard [in which] people will feel comfortable biking. It’s all about the comfort and the ease.”
This gets back to the idea of the urbanized suburb. The images suburbia as one big car-depended housing development are starting to break down. You’ll see this throughout the D.C. area where there are a number of urban centers in suburban communities that a visitor might assume is part of the District (thanks in large part to regional Metrorail system). Of course, these bikeshare station will have to be in the urban centers of suburbia to be successful. But even if they don’t catch on with the same intensity as they have in the District, the fact that bikeshare is even being considered in the suburbs exemplifies how much our suburban communities are becoming more urban.
Capital Bikeshare program looks to spread into the Washington suburbs [Washington Post]
Related video on SmartPlanet: