Developers Could Help Fund Downcounty Bikeshare System

Transportation impact taxes -- paid by developers for transportation improvements -- would be used to fund the system under legislation introduced Tuesday.

A new downcounty bikeshare system could be funded in part by transportation impact tax revenues under legislation introduced Tuesday by Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) and Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5).

The system, planned for Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park, Silver Spring, and eventually, Wheaton and Forest Glen, is aimed to offer up a low-cost alternative transportation method in the most congested portions of the county.

The network is planned to build off of the success of Capital Bikeshare, which has already seen increasing demand in Arlington and Washington, D.C., logging more than 1.5 million bike trips in its first 18 months.

The transportation impact tax is paid by developers to help fund transportation improvements including new and widened roads, transit centers and park-and-ride lots, new buses and hiker-biker trails, The Washington Business Journal reports.

The system is expected to cost $2.15 million, along with $500,000 in annual operating and maintenance costs, some of which will be offset by membership fees and private sponsorships,

With the help of private funding commitments and a $1 million state transportation grant, Montgomery County has enough to construct the first phase of the system -- about 29 stations with about 200 bikes, Patch reported.  A $250,000 bond for the program approved by the Maryland General Assembly will help boost the system 50 stations and 350 bikes in a second phase, but the county still faces a funding gap to complete the system.

Berliner and Ervin also introduced legislation Tuesday that would make it easier for developers to build bikesharing stations on their property, The Washington Examiner reported.

Some stations could be in place by the end of the year, and are expected to be in place in all locations except Wheaton and Forest Glen by spring of 2013, according to The Examiner.

Some businesses, including the River Road Whole Foods in Bethesda, have been eagerly anticipating a bikeshare system.

The Westbard grocery store is difficult to reach via public transportation, but it’s just a short bike trip from the Bethesda Metro station down the Capital Crescent Trail.

“A lot of our team members take public transportation, and from the Bethesda Metro it makes much more sense to come down the bike path — it’s only a mile and a half down to the building — than having to take a 45-minute route on the bus,” Joanna Bragg, a marketing team leader for the store, told Patch last year. “We also have a lot of customers who are health-conscious and eco-conscious, and the trail runs directly behind our building — it just seems like such a no-brainer.”


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