Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Arlington Publishes Major Plan for its Bikeshare

Arlington County has just released a six-year blueprint for growth in its share of the Capital Bikeshare system, and planners say the blueprint - with recommendations for growth and funding - could be the first bikeshare Transportation Development Plan (TDP) in the country.

Bikeshare trips to and from Arlington. Image: BikeArlington
Arlington County is part of the Capital Bikeshare system, one of four operators in a group that also includes Washington, DC, Montgomery County and the City of Alexandria.  In total, the system has 1,670 bikes and 175 stations.  As of September, Arlington County's share included 44 stations and 306 bicycles.

Over the past year, the county's BikeArlington staff solicited public feedback both online and in person, surveyed local stakeholders including agencies, businesses, and users, and based on the results laid out scenarios for growth for the system over the next six years.

"Capital Bikeshare is an integrated part of the transportation fabric in the Washington D.C. region, and it should be treated as such," Chris Eatough, program manager for the county's BikeArlington program, which oversaw the plan, wrote in a column published by Mobility Lab, Arlington's transportation innovation branch.


Existing Arlington bikeshare stations. Image: BikeArlington
According to the report, system data shows almost 50 percent of Arlington's bikeshare users were either coming from or going to Washington DC.  Most bikeshare trips were less than 1.5 miles in length.  Users who bring in the most cash for the system are "casual users" who take trips lasting over 30 minutes (those trips cost more), although those users made up less than 20 percent of riders in 2011.  Commute trips constituted a third of all trips with Arlington's bikeshare.

Funded Growth

In one growth scenario, the report outlines what Arlington can do with existing funding to grow and maintain the system.

According to the report, with existing funding, Arlington would grow most in 2013, adding 40 stations, three through "external sponsorships" and the rest with transportation grants and other funding.  New stations will "build out" the system in Shirlington and South Arlington, along Columbia Pike east of the Washington and Old Dominion trail.

Pending approval by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department Defense, stations will also pop up at Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon.  More stations will go into neighborhoods to create connections between the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Columbia Pike, as well as between Crystal City and Shirlington.

Beyond Existing Funding: Big Demand for Lots of New Stations

Funded Arlington bikeshare growth. Image: BikeArlington
Beyond the existing funding for 40 new stations, the TDP estimates a total demand for between 57 and 115 additional Arlington bikeshare stations.  The report calls locations in North Arlington at East Falls Church and Lee Highway the "logical next steps" for bikeshare expansion, and notes that more bicycles in Crystal City, Rosslyn and Court House Square will also be needed.


Currently, bikeshare gets operating revenue from fares and from station sponsorships.   However, the report estimates continuing operating deficits, and suggests opening up bikeshare station panels to advertising sales, but Arlington County would first have to change its policy against on-street advertising.  

According to the report, the system gets $200,000 in capital revenue from Arlington County vehicle decal fees.  In the past and for 2013, the system has gotten funding from a federal program called Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), though the continuity of that program is uncertain beyond 2013.

What Comes Next

Next, according to Eatough, the plan goes to the State of Virginia to be considered for transportation funding.

In the meantime, the plan lays out 15 ambitious performance measures that Arlington will monitor to keep an eye on how well things are going with its plan for growing its bikeshare, as well as other more abstract things like sustainability, safety, health, and bicycle culture.  Those performance measures include the ratio of Alrington's bikeshare miles traveled to total vehicle miles traveled, helmet use, crash rates, even average calories burned per trip.

The county is also still accepting public suggestions for future stations with its crowdsourcing map.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see bikeshare integrated into broader transportation plans.

Any word on when the sites for DC's expansion will be announced? The new stations were supposed to be installed this year.

Anonymous said...

I foresee a road rally challenge out to the Bikeshare stations that have had 0 trips so far.

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