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Montgomery County Officials Pitch Capital Bikeshare Expansion To Residents

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Capital Bikeshare is popular in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, but will only expand into Montgomery County this summer.
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Capital Bikeshare is popular in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, but will only expand into Montgomery County this summer.

All this week Montgomery County officials are speaking with residents about the upcoming expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program into the county later this summer.

Fifteen stations are planned for the Bethesda-Friendship Heights area, and last night county and Capital Bikeshare officials shared those locations with area residents, taking feedback and answering questions.

There were plenty of concerns about three of the 15 sites, but it wasn't just station locations on people's minds. Bob Smythe lives in Bethesda, and often bikes the Capital Crescent Trail, but he's worried about his safety as a pedestrian on the tight sidewalks of Bethesda's business district.

"My experience is that bicycle riders as a group are not courteous. They are not careful about coming up behind people... because you can't hear a bike when it comes up behind you. And they are somewhat belligerent when you expect them to yield to you. And I'm afraid [we'll] just see more of that happening," he said.

Many riders may take to sidewalks because Montgomery County roads do not yet have the extensive network of bike lanes seen in D.C. Emil Wolanin, the county's chief traffic engineer, says they do have some quick fixes they can make while planning for more bike lanes continues.

"On roads that are maybe not wide enough to stripe in a dedicated bike lane, we might put in what's called a sharrow, which is a special pavement marking that helps the cyclist locate themselves in the safest part of the lane," he said.

Capital Bikeshare offers riders in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria some 1,650 bikes and 175 stations; the system currently has 22,000 members. Beyond the stations around Red Line Metro stops in Montgomery County, Maryland officials are planning on installing 21 stations in more suburban areas like Rockville and Shady Grove. All told, the county will be getting 500 bikes at 51 stations.

Another meeting will be held tonight in Silver Spring, while the last one will take place tomorrow night at the Life Sciences Center in Rockville.

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