The Red Bikes Are Coming
Alexandria to join Capital Bikeshare program with six-station pilot project in Old Town, Carlyle.
The Alexandria City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to join the popular Capital Bikeshare program already in place in Arlington County and Washington, D.C.
However, the first wave of red bikes will be confined to the Old Town and Carlyle neighborhoods of the city.
Council approved a pilot program of six stations containing a total of 54 bikes that will be installed in Old Town and Carlyle in the spring or summer of 2012. The locations of the solar-powered stations have not been determined.
No general funds from the city will be used to launch the pilot program, which will be implemented with $400,000 in existing federal grant money.
Last month, Council approved another $400,000 in federal grant funds for fiscal year 2013 to eventually double the number of stations and bikes.
Initial operating costs will be covered by revenue from bikeshare and Transportation Management Plan funds. Carrie Sanders, a transportation planner with the city, anticipated annual operating costs would likely be covered by bikeshare revenues in three years.
“I just think this is the perfect city for this plan,” Councilwoman Del Pepper said.
Mayor Bille Euille said the Council was inundated with emails from citizens about the program in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s meeting. A handful of citizens biked to City Hall to attend the meeting. Some wore pro-cycling T-shirts.
Councilman Paul Smedberg, citing the demographics in Del Ray and the interest expressed by citizens in the neighborhood, asked city staff why the program is not starting there instead. Del Ray is also closer to existing Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington’s Crystal City.
Sanders said, after consulting national experts, it was determined that the best course was “to build a strong core” in one area.
Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, who was a strong proponent of the plan, said he felt the initial rollout of six stations was too small. He said he'd like to see Braddock Road Metro station connected to Del Ray by bikeshare.
“I think the pilot is meager,” Donley said. “I am fine with the recommendation, but I’d like to see it expanded. … The goal is not to cover the city. It’s to connect Metro stations and activity centers to other activity centers.”
Smedberg also cautioned that there are more dedicated bike lanes in Arlington and the District than in Alexandria, which makes Capital Bikeshare a safer and easier transportation option for citizens and tourists.
“I hope we monitor how we are integrating these bikes into our limited infrastructure,” he said. “I know it’s hard in a place like Old Town.”