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Late September Launch Expected For Downcounty Bikeshare System

29 docking stations with 200 bikes are planned for Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

The first phase of a downcounty bikeshare system could be up and running by Sept. 21, Sandra Brecher of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said Monday.

Speaking at a meeting of the Western Montomery County Citizens Advisory Board, Brecher outlined a timeline for the system, which will offer a low-cost alternative transportation method in the most congested portions of the county. Phase one, funded through a state transportation grant, calls for 29 docking stations with 200 bikes in Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Medical Center, Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

The system is planned to build off of the success of Capital Bikeshare and is designed for "point-to-point connections" between home and transit or transit and work to extend the reach of public transportation.

Montgomery County is nearing a finalized contract with the bikesharing vendor, and the county attorney and the transportation department have both signed off on the document, Brecher said. The bikesharing equipment will take four to five months to arrive after the vendor receives the go-ahead.

"While that's going on, we'll be working in the downcounty to identify more precisely the sites where these will go," Brecher said. "It's going to be a challenge to fit this in to the urban landscape."

Tentative sites have been identified for the stations, but more work is needed to determine whether the locations are feasible, Brecher said.

Each station will require six feet of space and an additional six feet of clearance to allow cyclists to pull in and out of the station without interfering with pedestrians, Brecher said. Space for the docks may prove tricky in downtown Bethesda, however, where sidewalks are 12 feet. 

Not all 29 stations will be open by the September launch, but Brecher said DOT hopes to have a "critical mass" of stations readied in order to roll out the system.

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