Arlington County had a meeting last night to discuss their planned expansion of Capital Bikeshare to which about 45 people showed up. They discussed the methodology for choosing the 30 locations, which will include 200 bikes, and the timeline for the expansion itself, as well as discussing bikesharing in general. This was followed by a Q&A session and then small group discussions.
The expansion is currently ongoing and will continue through next year and beyond. In the immediate future, the Courthouse station is ready to go and will be installed in the July/August timeframe. Simultaneously, they will develop a site plan for each of the next 30 stations and this will take several months. If the station is on private land, they'll get an agreement from the owner to place the station and then go before the County Board for approval to modify the property plan. This won't be necessary for stations on public land. They hope to get the approval for all such modifications in the fall, and to extend the sustem to Clarendon around the same time. They'll extend it to Ballston by winter or spring of 2012. Finally, when they're done planning this round in the fall, they'll put together a 6-year bicycle transit plan similar to the recently-completed ART bus transit plan. They also plan to update the paper maps that are in the stations themselves to show all the new stations.
When choosing sites there is a heirarchy of preferred sites.
- Publicly owned land that is not part of a right-of-way and won't require removing parking.
- Private space - some sidewalks in Arlington are privately owned, and so they would need both owner and County board approval.
- On street locations where there is metered parking.
- On street where there is residential parking.
Most of the criteria for Arlington is he same as it is for DC:
- they need 4 hours of sunlight
- A safe location
- Preferably next to a bike lane or other facility
- Low impact on sightlines
- No manhole covers
- Preferably near a Metro station or a bus stop
- The boom truck needs easy access - no overhead wires or trees
- Preferable not on a major street.
- For stations on sidewalks they need 6' of clearance and no tree wells.
- On the road they want to avoid snow routes, drainage catch basins, placing stations directly in front of private homes, and impacting parking.
- If they're replacing metered spaces they prefer locations where they can create new metered spaces not far away. In the plan presented only 6 metered spaces will need to be removed, along with 5 residential spaces and 2 commercial spaces.
You can see the 30 locations they identified here.
They also gave some stats on the system as of 6/15/11
- 14972 members (1049 in Arlington)
- 557282 trips (4381 per day in May)
- average trip length is 21 minutes
- average trip is 1.15 miles
- The busiest station in Arlington is 18th and Bell with 34 trips per day
- DC is recovering 70-80% of their operating expenses (not bad) but Arlington is only at 50% right now.
- Arlington is making $7000-$9000 in revenue a month, but they expect to see that go up.
- Each station weighs 4000-5000 lbs and costs between $40,209 and $56,565 depending on size. That includes a $4000 installation fee. The total expansion is more than $1M.
During the question and answer portion, one person asked about the applicability of other cities experiences - which Arlington relied upon - to Arlington where the dense areas are linear rather than in a traditional downtown. Paul DeMaio replied that in Montreal there are several corridors away from the center city that mimic the kind of development that Arlington has.
A couple of users, though one in particular, mostly wanted to complain about current service and their frustration with dockblocking. The one man said that he's missed meetings and ridden far out of his way because of full stations. If he finds an empty dock and can't get a bike, he can adjust, but being stuck with a bike and nowhere to lock is a real inconvenience. And getting extensions to go to another station hardly helps, because those too can be full by the time he arrives. He even brought "out of service" tickets with him (props for the props).
Arlington staff said this should be less of a problem in Arlington than in DC. Tthey were placing their stations closer together than DC does (only 2-3 blocks apart) and Arlington has better diversity of land uses. In DC, they said, you have areas like Columbia Heights with a lot of residents, but few jobs and areas like K Street with a lot of jobs and no residents and that is a big part of the problem. The R-B corridor on the other hand has a good mix of jobs, residents, retail, etc... so it won't be as much of a problem.
Alta was there and they added that they've extended their rebalancing hours to 21 hours a day from 5am-2am and they've added a van. They have few rebalancing problems in Arlington (though one woman disagreed) and there are usually more bikes in Crystal City at the end of the day than at the begining, perhaps because people rode Metro to work but then bike home (where they don't mind being a little sweaty). Bikes from the R-B corridor do go into DC in the morning, but they're easy to replace with bikes from stations in Georgetown. And staff pointed out that DC is adding 30 stations, many of them infill, in the hopes of making more docks available. But the man who was most upset thought they needed to revisit the 2 docks:1 bike ratio and add more docks. Most of his complaints seemed geared toward DC, which left the Arlington staff without much to say. Not only was he complaining to the wrong jurisdiction, but perhaps to the wrong people. If he wants more docks and more bikes, he needs to talk to the District Council and Arlington County Board.
One woman seemed concerned about sidewalk space. Whe wanted to know who decided that only 6' of access space was needed, and was that in compliance with the sector plan, but she never actually voiced an opinion that that wasn't enough. She also wanted to know how many vehicles would be driving around and how big they were.
A few other observations of mine:
- They could've used a few ipads for the small group discussions. A lot of time was spent discussing what a location looked like. With an iPad they could pull it up on streetview and see it.
- It would be pretty cool if Spotcycle included a station-to-station time esitmator. Based on how long the average trip is it could tell users that getting from station A to station B usually takes 22 minutes (or something)
- They showed the How to Use CaBi video which I haven't watche in a while. It tells users to check out the bike, adjust the seat and put on a helmet. Everyone knows you check out the bike last so that you don't waste rental time messing with the seat. Also, Chris Holben looks so stiff and emotionless in the video that I expect him to ask somone if they're Sarah Connor.