Council moved to reallocate $186,000 in unspent city transportation improvement funds to cover the first-year operation costs of the program after the Federal Highway Administration announced in April that certain federal funds could not be used for operating expenses associated with bike-share programs.
The docket item spurred a discussion of the city’s pilot program after Councilman Paul Smedberg said there should be further debate and discussion of where the initial stations should be located.
In January, the city unveiled the locations of an eight-station pilot program confined to Old Town. City staff also revealed that the planned second set of stations would remain east of the Metrorail tracks in Alexandria.
“I think there should be some by Braddock or in the Del Ray area,” Smedberg said. “I think we might be going into some of the wrong areas first and that’s my personal opinion and it’s going to be several years before we get into that zone. I’m a little concerned about that because that’s the people we heard from most. … I see more of our residents benefitting in areas like Del Ray or other areas of the city than the King Street Metro.”
Rich Baier, director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said there’s a desire to put stations in many places but there’s also a focus on clustering the stations in one area to create a network.
“There’s kind of a push and tug,” he said. “Do we cluster them or spread them out?”
Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, who referred to himself as a cyclist, said it’s not just the desire Del Ray residents have shown for Capital Bikeshare but that the neighborhood’s location “lends itself well” to the program.
“It’s not just that it’s Del Ray, it’s because of its proximity to bike trails and its proximity to Metro stations outside the city of Alexandria,” Donley said. “You can easily get on the Four Mile Run trail at the end of Mt. Vernon Avenue and get to Crystal City in 10 minutes—unless you pedal like the mayor. Then it’s more like 15 minutes.”
Councilman Rob Krupicka said the city is doing a good job of using its Transportation Management Plans, which assess transit improvements around new developments, to secure Capital Bikeshare stations. Stations are planned in several upcoming projects, including the redevelopment of the Mount Vernon Village Center in Arlandria and the Harris Teeter project in North Old Town.
“If someone is building a new apartment building or condo building or some commercial building, if there’s any way conceivable it makes sense to put a Bikeshare [station] nearby, we should do it because it gets more people riding Metro and more people biking to their final destination,” Krupicka said.
Capital Bikeshare has proven very popular in Arlington County and the District since launching in September 2010, with nearly 2 million rides thus far.
City Council voted to join the regional network in October. Alexandria’s pilot program is scheduled to debut this summer. The first eight stations were ordered in February.