Arlington is planning a rapid expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program in the county and is looking for input from residents and workers in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to help figure out where demand for bikes meets space and safety.
At a public meeting Monday evening, representatives from the county and Bikeshare operator Alta Bicycle Share laid out the requirements for potential locations and the timeline for the expansion. They also took questions from about 50 Arlington residents, most of whom are already Capital Bikeshare members.
The county is aiming for about 30 new stations throughout the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor by spring 2012, which will mean more than 330 new bikes augmenting the already transit-heavy area.
Capital Bikeshare, a partnership between Washington, D.C., and Arlington County, allows members to borrow bikes for short rides from one station to another. The program has put 1,110 bikes on the road at 115 docking stations throughout the region, but has yet to make its way along the bustling Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
Each station will have at least 11 bikes and will cost more than $40,000 -- in all, a $1.2 million project funded by a mix of federal and county money.
The program recovers about 50 percent of its operating costs through membership fees, though officials expect that portion to increase as more stations are added and more members join. In the district, where more than 90 percent of members live, up to 80 percent of operating costs are covered by membership fees, said Paul DeMaio, project manager for Capital Bikeshare.
Many questions and comments at the public session revolved around the problem of full stations in office-heavy areas, which means arriving bike-sharers have nowhere to dock their bikes. Alta works nearly around the clock transporting bikes back and forth from business districts to residential areas in an attempt to create a balance of available bikes and empty docks, though representatives say it's a learning process as the program grows.
"We're growing as fast as we can," said Euan Fisk, operations manager at Alta Bicycle Share. "Of all the [bicycle share] systems in the world, we have the highest ratio of members to docks."
Capital Bikeshare is still going through growing pains. It has grown to 15,000 members since it started in September 2010. Alta and the county are collecting data to make things run more smoothly.
In order to keep up the conversation about new stations, BikeArlington, a program of Arlington County Commuter Services, has created a crowdsourcing map to help residents recommend potential locations or comment on locations already being considered.