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Council Questions Locations of Capital Bikeshare Stations

Councilman Paul Smedberg said he sees a need for Bikeshare stations in areas other than Old Town and nearby.

Members of City Council questioned the location of stations for Alexandria’s Capital Bikeshare pilot program during Tuesday night’s meeting at .

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 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 and the .

“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 in October. Alexandria’s pilot program is scheduled to debut this summer. The first eight stations were ordered in February.

Adam Froehlig May 24, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Councilmember Smedberg, if you feel that Bikeshare stations should go in more places than Old Town, you are more than welcome to push Council to pass more funding for the program for expansion. But Bikeshare works best when you have the stations in close proximity to each other, in no small part so that if one station is either completely full (no spaces to dock a bike) or completely empty (no bikes to get), there are other stations nearby. Especially since the first round of stations is so small (only 8), if we spread them around too much, you'll easily run into cases where a user will be stuck with no bikes or no docks and have to backtrack a half-mile or more.
karen May 24, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The proximity of Del Ray makes it an ideal location for Bikeshare. I agree with Councilman Smedberg and the Vice Mayor.
JamesOnThePotomac May 24, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Let's look at the costs http://www.alexandriagazette.com/news/2012/may/24/letter-bike-share-now-needs-city-money/ It looks like this pig just got ugly. Elections can't come soon enough!
Jonathan Krall May 25, 2012 at 02:31 PM
@James The bikeshare (CaBi) system was paid for using federal money, including a small amount that was planned to be allocated for operations. However, the feds changed the rules so that bit of the federal money couldn't be used for CaBi operations, but could be used for other things. No money was lost--you are making a mountain out of a molehill. As for station locations, they do need to be close together so that a nearby "second choice" station can be used if your first choice station is momentarily empty (if you want to get a bike) or full (if you want to drop off a bike). The first round stations are well-sited, and need to be in Old Town, especially since CaBi-riding tourists already ride those red biked to the foot of King Street, expecting to find a station (they expect that because stations in DC are sensibly located near tourist attractions). Further stations, however, should include some in Del Ray.
Adam Froehlig May 25, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Can't quite blame the city for the "pig getting ugly". Federal Highway changed the rules mid-stream...can't fault the city for that.
Maria Wildes May 26, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Bikeshare stations should be located next to a tour bus parking area on Eisenhower Avenue, so tourists can explore Old Town without the huge busses clobbering the historic district.
Kim Moore May 29, 2012 at 04:29 AM
DelRay and Old Town seem like the obvious places to start. Everyday, I see Bikeshare riders all over the district or on the paths crossing into Arlington at the end of the day and I have wondered why we do not have the same opportunities. Adding bike stations to DelRay, OldTown, and the Braddock/King St. Stations will add a seamless continuation from Crystal City. Bikeshare racks from King St. down into OldTown, perhaps to the Waterfront around Cameron St., would add alternative options for visiting and shopping. Putting a rack near the Trader Joe's could be a good half-way point between Braddock Rd. and the waterfront.

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