…Does This Mean The Shelby Will See a Capital Bikeshare Station?
//As reported by Greater Greater Washington// Alexandria’s plans to expand Capital Bikeshare next year are on the chopping block in the city’s proposed FY2016 budget.
The cut will save the city an estimated $150,000 in operating costs up front. But cutting the operating budget will be particularly harmful to Alexandria’s Capital Bikeshare because it limits the program’s access to capital funds, which don’t come out the city’s belt-tightened general fund.
Through federal and other grants, Alexandria has access to $700,000 in capital funds for up to 16 new Capital Bikeshare stations.
But in order to use those funds, the city must dedicate the operating dollars to run the new stations, and it’s those expanded operating funds that have been cut from the general fund budget. So instead of spending the capital funding this year, the city plans to set aside some of the $700,000, and spend some of it elsewhere.
Photo Credit // BikeArlington.com
Approximately $200,000 of the capital funding is from developers, and has been earmarked for Capital Bikeshare stations as part of community amenities negotiated by the city in development deals.
If not spent on bikesharing this year, those dollars might go to fill budget holes in other developer-funded projects instead, getting spent on other amenities, such as pocket parks and walking trails rather than Bikeshare.
Expanding Capital Bikeshare in Alexandria makes sense.
Parks and walking paths are great, but Capital Bikeshare is actually a very sound investment for Alexandria. Bikeshare in Alexandria has a 70% cost recovery, compared to about 30% for a typical bus system. And that number could be higher if the potential demand were met: in DC, cost recovery is almost 100%. Fees from the system have exceeded expectations in Alexandria this year, producing an estimated $59,000 surplus for 2014-15.
According to Alexandria transportation planners, bikesharing operations cost about $10,000 per station, meaning that surplus could be used to operate six more stations in the jurisdiction next year.
The city’s 16 current stations only sparely cover the flat, very bikeable geography that includes Del Ray, Old Town, Potomac Greens and Carlyle. Arlandria, Lynhaven, Potomac Yard, Rosemont, and South Old Town have no stations at all yet.
Alexandria Bikeshare station demand map. Image from Capital Bikeshare.
In Del Ray alone, obvious station locations are at Commonwealth and Mount Vernon, Commonwealth and Monroe, and Mount Vernon and Alexandria. They include restaurants, a library, a community center, and concentrations of apartments.
Economically, expanding Capital Bikeshare is a good idea because the program brings tourism to Alexandria. Old Town is an appealing destination to tourists who have already paid for a membership in DC, and who want to ride on the world-famousMount Vernon Trail. Even before there were stations in Old Town, people visited on Bikeshare bikes.
With bikesharing fully available in Alexandria, users can shop and eat at Alexandria businesses. Moreover, Alexandria gets a portion of their user fees. Having only one station on the Alexandria waterfront is, to put it simply, leaving money on the table.
Photo Credit // The Washington Post
Even with supplier problems, the expansion should be able to move forward
When Alexandria recently expanded from eight bikeshare stations to 16, there were delays because of problems with the bike supplier. Public Bike System Company, popularly known as Bixi, went bankrupt in January 2014 but was purchased by Montreal businessman Bruno Rodi last April.
The bankruptcy delayed Alexandria’s last system expansion until August 2014. The expansion order was filled eventually, in part using refurbished equipment that became available as other Bixi customers returned or upgraded equipment.
It’s unclear whether or not Bixi is still having supply problems, but Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) chair Jim Durham said Alexandria should “fund the full 16-station bikeshare expansion planned for next year,” possibly with refurbished equipment.
When he first introduced Bikeshare’s arrival in Alexandria, Mayor William Euille talked about how much resident support the program had. More resident feedback, this time to let Alexandria know that money that’s available for bikeshare shouldn’t go to waste, could certainly help keep the program moving forward in advance of the City Council discussion of its transportation budget this Thursday.