Is Bike Sharing Feasible in Reston?

Bike sharing is an ideal solution to the "last mile" problem of moving people to and from transit such as the Silver Line Metro stations.

I think the answer is yes. First let me explain what bike sharing entails. The concept refers to having a group of bicycles that are available to the general public, either for free or rented by the hour. The best example in our area is Capital Bikeshare. You may have seen the red three-speed bikes that are now very common in D.C.

Users must first become members of Capital Bikeshare. Memberships are available for a single day, three days, 30 days, or a year. The first half hour is free, after which hourly fees apply. This pricing encourages shorter trips.

Once a bicycle is checked out it can be returned to any of the 140 stations scattered throughout the DC/Arlington area. In order to be a useful transportation alternative, a sufficient number of stations located relatively closely are needed. Users don't want to walk long distances from the stations to their destination. Ideal spacing is about 1,000 feet between stations.

With the coming of rail to Reston, many people will be traveling short distances to and from the Wiehle Ave and Reston Parkway rail stations. The "last mile" is a term used to refer to these short trips to/from transit. Bike sharing is an ideal solution.

Where would the bike stations be located? A start would be to have stations on the north and south sides of the Metro stations. The Reston Parkway station is a long walk from the Town Center, so a couple of stations could be located in parts of the Town Center. Other obvious locations include the USGS, Reston Association, Hunters Woods Village Center, the International Center, South Lakes Village Center, Isaac Newton Square, Plaza America, Stratford House, and other high-density residential and commercial locations.

How would the system be funded? The Capital Bikeshare system is funded through federal, state, local and private funding. The Paris Velib bike share system is funded using advertising at the stations and on the bicycles. We currently fund other forms of transit, and bike sharing can be envisioned as a small-scale transit system that need not be self supporting. Even so, the Capital Bikeshare system is now taking in enough funds to pay for all operating expenses.

The next time you plan a short trip, think about how that trip could be taken by bike, and if a shared bike were available, would you use it? Bike sharing could be a real option for many people in Reston, but we'll need safer, more direct on- and off-road bike facilities for it to be successful. That's the topic for a future article.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Uncle Smartypants March 27, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I don't know anyone in Reston who uses a bike as transportation and doesn't already own one. Secure Bike storage is not the issue here it is in more urban areas and, if you think about it, every trip begins and eventually ends at home. I live and work in Reston, use my feet or my bike as transportation several times a week, and I've tried to envision a scenario where I would use a ride share bike rather than my own and can't think of one.
Bruce Wright March 28, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Bike share is not for everyone, especially people who already use bikes for local trips near their home. However, I own several bikes and often ride into the District, but there are also many times when I take Metro and on almost every one of those Metro trips I also use CaBi because it solves the last mile problem. It's also fun and I will even get off Metro a few stops early just to ride a CaBi bike, usually to and from Metro. The beauty of bikesharing is that users don't have to worry about securing and storing their own bikes. They simply leave the shared bike at the doc and go about their business. I know many people who own bikes but are also CaBi members just because often it's more convenient to use the CaBi bikes than their own bikes.
HT March 28, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Great suggestion. I would use a bike share - I don't like to ride in the dark, so borrowing a bike earlier in the day and getting picked up works for me!
Bruce Wright March 28, 2012 at 01:00 PM
One nice thing about the CaBi bikes is that they have front and rear lights that are powered by generator hubs. The lights aren't bright but they are always on and are enough to be seen at night.
John Nunyobiz March 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I agree. Most would have to drive or walk to the bike share location. Which would defeat the whole purpose. And who doesn't already own a bike in Reston already? Not many I would guess. This works great in a urban environment, but not very practical in a subburban environment.


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