Montgomery County on Friday cut a ribbon on its first batch of Capital Bikeshare stations, with officials hoping the county can latch on to the success the bike sharing system has had in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria.
“We need to move to a less car-centric culture,” Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase) said at a press conference in Rockville. “And it also, quite frankly, makes us a younger community and that’s a goal of Montgomery County as well, to attract younger people to our community and demonstrate we will listen to them, we will provide for them.”
Fourteen of the 51 planned stations for Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville and Shady Grove went into operation Friday. Four of the 15 planned for Bethesda/Friendship Heights opened Friday — Cordell and Norfolk Avenues, Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road (Elm Street Garage), Montgomery and East Lanes and Norfolk and Fairmont Avenues (Veterans Park).
The county will roll the rest out in the next few weeks.
The downcounty stations were funded by a $1 million state transportation grant, a $250,000 state bond and a $200,000 commitment from the Chevy Chase Land Company, a private developer that will fund the stations at the Friendship Heights Metro station and at Montgomery and East Lanes, at its Two Bethesda Center office property.
“Because we live and work here, we’ve always supported causes for the long-term positive impact on our economy, quality of life and our neighborhoods,” Chevy Chase Land Company CEO David Smith said.
The balance of the funding came in $140,000 in developer payments to Montgomery County.
The system’s 201 stations and 1,800 bicycles are owned by local governments and operated with Portland, Ore.-based contractor Alta Bicycle Share. It was the largest bike sharing service in the country until New York City opened its Citi Bike program in May. Bikes from county stations can be docked in D.C. or Virginia stations.
County officials hope the system entices people out of their cars for short trips in downtown areas. Some see it as an indication of something bigger.
“These little red bikes are a great symbol of change. You see them in cities all across this country and now it’s here in Montgomery County,” Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At large) said. “Every time you see a red bike just recognize that we are moving forward into a better future.”
Capital Bikeshare hit 5 million rides earlier this month.
Membership costs $75 a year, $25 a month, $15 for three days and $7 for one day. Three-day and one-day memberships can be purchased by credit card at each station. Other memberships must be purchased online or by phone.