Streams

Maryland Getting Ready for Capital Bikeshare Expansion

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 03:15 PM

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett speaking at the opening of the Shady Grove bike path (Matt Bush)

With Capital Bikeshare a month away from expanding into Maryland, county leaders are still trying to ready roads for an expected increase in bicyclists.

Joe Fritsch lives in Olney and bikes around Montgomery County a lot. He often goes to neighboring Howard County to ride, because he finds it safer.

"The running joke with my kids is when they ask whether we're back to Montgomery County yet," Fritsch said. "I say 'Look, see if there's a shoulder.' If there's no shoulder, we're in Montgomery County. If there is, we're still in Howard County."

But Fritsch did bike to the ceremonial opening of the newest bike path in Montgomery County. It runs to the Shady Grove Metro station, by far the busiest of the 11 Metro stations in the county -- and soon to be home to a new Capital Bikeshare station. The path is paved, and has guardrails and a new crossing to protect bikers from the heavy vehicle traffic at Shady Grove.

"About 40 percent of stations in the Metro system, all the cars are coming from about one to three miles," said Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. "Maybe as most as five miles. What we need to have is more things like this, more paths to get to stations more safely and comfortably."

County executive Isiah Leggett says because of ongoing upgrades needed to make roads safer for biking, it may be a while before Capital Bikeshare takes off in Montgomery County. "It will take time," he said, "a much longer period of time, than you will have in Bethesda and Chevy Chase where there's slower traffic and you have a much more ongoing tradition of bicycling."

Leggett says the first Capital Bikeshare stations in the county should open in the beginning of September.

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