The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) seeks public input on the potential expansion of dockless bikeshare beyond the current pilot area in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Additional areas under consideration are Bethesda, North Bethesda (including White Flint), Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase, Veirs Mill and Wheaton. Input is also sought on whether to allow the use of pedal-assist, electric “e-bikes” and e-scooters in these areas. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in at three upcoming MCDOT-sponsored Town Hall meetings and through an online survey that will be available later this week. A map of the proposed expansion area is available online.
The Town Hall meetings will all be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on:
Monday, October 29, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Auditorium, 8787 Spring Street, Silver Spring
Tuesday, October 30, Bethesda Chevy Chase High School Cafeteria, 4301 East West Hwy Bethesda
Thursday, November 1, Walter Johnson High School Cafeteria, 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda
To date, two companies have expressed an interest in either starting or expanding operations in Montgomery County, and representatives from these companies will be available at the Town Hall meetings to speak with the public. Before expanded operations would be allowed, dockless, e-bike and e-scooter companies would be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Montgomery County that spells out operational and performance requirements. Input from the public will inform the provisions of those MOUs.
Dockless electric bikes and scooters are not allowed to operate on Montgomery County park trails and will not be permitted to end trips or park in Montgomery County villages and towns that do not opt into the expanded program.
Those interested in using the GPS-enabled vehicles register through a smartphone app that then allows users to locate, unlock and lock the bikes and scooters, and pay for rides. Riders must obey bicycle laws and are encouraged to wear helmets and reflective items.
MCDOT has completed an evaluation of the year-long, dockless bikeshare pilot project in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. During that time, adjustments to the program were made based on public input that greatly reduced the number of reported concerns.
The evaluation found that the program was generally quite successful in providing short, point-to-point trips. Riders took a total of about 18,000 trips over a six-month period using bikes from the two companies maintaining operations in the pilot area. Most trips were conducted within the pilot area boundaries, though about 15 percent of trips ended in areas of the County outside the pilot area. Incidents of improper parking of the bikes reduced over time as the companies improved their “in-app” communications and users became more familiar with the rules. During a six-week observation period, bikes were found to generally be in good operating condition, without significant incidences of missing parts. During that period, most bikes observed were parked appropriately, while seven percent were parked in a way that caused an obstruction.