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Arlington IDs Columbia Pike, Shirlington as Capital Bikeshare Priorities

With more funding, new stations could also appear along Lee Highway and in East Falls Church and Westover village.

Back in March, Arlington County started engaging the public on the question of how Capital Bikeshare, or CaBi, should grow in the long term. After months of public input and feasibility studies, we now have a draft Transit Development Plan for CaBi.

The point of the plan, as Arlington County described it, is to “systematically plan for service expansion and improvements in a strategic and fiscally realistic fashion.” With this in mind, the draft plan describes two expansion scenarios.

The first is the “constrained expansion,” in which the number of new stations are limited to existing funding. The main thrust of this scenario is new CaBi stations in areas along Columbia Pike and into Shirlington next year. This expansion into southern Arlington was prioritized because it garnered broad and strong public support. It also fits well within existing system operating parameters (for example, it minimizes station rebalancing needs).

The second scenario — “unconstrained expansion” — includes the areas above and then looks beyond them into the north and western areas of Arlington. Assuming funding could be identified and secured, neighborhoods along Lee Highway could see stations. East Falls Church and Westover are also identified as possibilities. Finally, increased station density in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is part of this plan.

Obviously, Arlington could be blanketed with CaBi stations if funding were unlimited. But that will never be the case (nor is it a very good idea). So I’m pleased to see a draft plan that prioritizes the areas most in need of the bike-sharing program. Columbia Pike, with its recent and future growth, is an ideal area for CaBi use. Shirlington, also a growing residential and entertainment destination, is another easy call. 

The constrained expansion plan also addresses the challenge of tying Columbia Pike into the larger Captial Bikeshare network by providing for stations along a couple of north-south corridors. These corridors would connect to the existing CaBi network in the Rosslyn-Ballston area. And with Shirlington a short hop down Four Mile Run, we'd end up with a usefully dense network that serves lots of south Arlington residents and destinations.

The Transit Development Plan is still in draft form and will not be finalized until early this fall. Online public input will be accepted here until at least July 27. Those who would like to see the final result include more than Columbia Pike and Shirlington should not only tell county staff, but also let the Arlington County Board know that it should work to find additional funding.

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Interested in the actual numbers and specifics involved? The Transit Development Plan has them in spades, and it can be found here. Arlington County deserves a lot of credit for producing the most detailed examination of a bike-sharing system I’ve seen. The Map Gallery is also quite interesting from a general transportation standpoint.

Mark Blacknell is chairman of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, president of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.

Barry July 12, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Pike streetcar system is incompatible with bicycles.
Allen Muchnick July 13, 2012 at 09:35 PM
@ Barry, Tell it to the County Board. Columbia Pike residents will still make local trips by bike, even if streetcar tracks make the curb lanes of the Pike treacherous.

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