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Gaithersburg Gears Up For Bikeshare Program

Gaithersburg's Transportation Committee told the mayor and City Council it is hoping to bring Capital Bikeshare to the city within the next year.

Members of Gaithersburg's Transportation Committee told the mayor and City Council Tuesday they are considering bringing the Capital Bikeshare program to the city within the next year.

Montgomery County is slated to get 29 Capital Bikeshare stations in Spring 2013, with 200 bikes in Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring, Chevy Chase Patch reported.

The Capital Bikeshare program allows participants to check out bikes from a docking station rack using a special key card (mailed to bikeshare users when they sign up for the program online). Casual users who have not purchased a key card in advance can pay at the docking stations by credit card.

Membership fees vary based on usage time. Bikeshare members can register for 24 hour, 3 day, 30 day or annual membership.

"Working in [Washington, DC], I've seen the tremendous success of it," City Council Vice President Ryan Spiegel said. "I know that were excited for looking for opportunities in the city to install stations where it makes sense. This is definitely something that can be done in the short term."

The Montgomery County Council approved measures on Tuesday to help get the ball rolling on the county's bikesharing program, including the use of funds from a special development tax to build and maintain the docking stations, and granting developers building permits for Bikeshare docking stations without approved site plans. 

Spiegel said the county and the state have implementation funding available and that Gaithersburg should be aggressive in a grant proposal for that money.

Mayor Sidney A. Katz said the city of Rockville has done better than Gaithersburg on the bikesharing issue and hopes his city can tie into what they've already done so it can be better in both places.

Rockville was planning to install 20 stations with 200 bikes of its own, The Washington Post reported in February.

"I think we'd like to talk to [Rockville] about the bikesharing part," Transportation Committee member Bill Snyder told the mayor and City Council. "We don't need to re-invent the wheel."

The committee said it has begun to receive input on where to put stations, while Katz said he has already heard members of the community lobby for locations.

"I was in Starbucks (in the Kentlands) a couple weeks ago and someone suggested we have a bike rack out there," Katz said.

"We probably have a few good locations in the city for pilot programs," Spiegel said. "If it means cutting into the city budget, it's something we should look at. It's something that should be a reality in the next year or two."

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