2018 | Transit

Dockless Bike-Share Program Rolls into North Bethesda

Tests in Silver Spring and Takoma Park found new service supplemented Capital Bikeshare

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Move over, Capital Bikeshare.

Montgomery County is expanding a dockless bike-share program – tested for a year in Silver Spring and Takoma Park – to North Bethesda.

Dockless bike-sharing differs from traditional systems like Capital Bikeshare and allows riders to find the nearest bike using a GPS phone app instead of having to go to a bikeshare station, where they can unlock a two-wheeler. Both programs rent bikes.

The county’s Department of Transportation is adding e-bikes, operated by LimeBike, in North Bethesda, the first new area outside Silver Spring and Takoma Park.

During six months in the pilot program, about 18,000 people used the GPS-enabled bikes and the majority of riders stayed within operation boundaries and parked the bikes properly, according to a county report. About 15 percent of rides ended outside of the pilot area, and during a six-week “observation period,” 7 percent were parked causing an obstruction.

The county also said it is looking into scooter rental programs. Similar scooter rentals in major urban areas have come under fire for safety reasons and users haphazardly dumping the motorized scooters, forcing local governments to consider stiffer regulation.

The newly expanded bike-share area, from Seven Locks Road to Montrose Road and from Veirs Mill Road to East Branch Drive, was established after public meetings this fall.

At the meetings, some residents voiced concern about the bikes, noting it may take first-time riders practice safe operations. One Silver Spring resident said allowing bikes on sidewalks is irresponsible and could cause crashes with pedestrians.

One survey of e-bike riders found that 60 percent used both bike-share systems said that the dockless option didn’t change their Capital Bikeshare use.