Montgomery considers many ways to fund bike sharing
Montgomery County will get 20 Capital Bikeshare stations in Rockville next year, and is exploring many funding possibilities to expand the program to more parts of the county.
The county council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment committee discussed the issue on Monday. According to the pre-meeting material, the county has been trying to join bike sharing since 2008 when they investigated expanding SmartBike, but Clear Channel was not interested.
In 2009, they joined other jurisdictions in applying for a TIGER grant, which the region didn't win, but they worked with DC and Arlington to craft the CaBi vendor agreement to accommodate including them later. A second application, this time for TIGER II in 2010, made the first cut from 350 programs to 128, but was "not funded due to geographic distribution issues."
Finally, in 2011, the program got funding through a Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) grant to bring 200 bikes and 20 stations to Rockville. Some of the funded stations will go in unincorporated portions of the county around Shady Grove Metro, including the Life Sciences Center. Others will go in Rockville Town Center and areas around the Rockville Metro and MARC station inside the City of Rockville. Montgomery is still awaiting final approval and hope to install the stations in 2012.
The county is now seeking two additional grants: a Maryland DOT grant funded by Federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) money, which would require a 20% local match, and a TIGER III grant request.
In addition, State Senator Brian Frosh hopes to introduce a bill to have the state fund bonds to pay for bike sharing capital costs. The state could also consider tax credits for businesses supporting bike sharing.
Locally, the county could use funds from its parking districts to cover some of the costs. To developers willing to pay for a station, the county could offer density bonuses, reduce parking requirements, reduce payments to parking districts, or include them in Traffic Mitigation Agreements, which the county negotiates with developers around projects in areas like Bethesda. For current building owners, they can also offer tax credits and advertising or sponsorship opportunities.
Montgomery County is clearly dedicated to expanding bike sharing and, despite tight budgets, has identified many options to achieve that goal. Will any of them pan out in the immediate future? We can hope.
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