On the heels of its third anniversary, Capital Bikeshare makes a big expansion into Montgomery County. Local officials celebrated the first of 50 new stations that will open here today in Rockville with a large crowd of well-wishers.

Montgomery County opened its first Capital Bikeshare station today in Rockville. All photos by the author unless noted.

“It’s no secret that the Washington area has the worst traffic,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “That’s why Montgomery County is committed to increasing its transportation options . . . Bikeshare is another cost-effective option that can help reduce the need to drive, especially for short distances.”

State delegate Al Carr, County Executive Ike Leggett, and County Councilmember Roger Berliner try out the new Bikeshare bikes.

According to Art Holmes, the county’s director of transportation, 14 stations and 218 bikes will open today in Rockville, Shady Grove, Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park, communities where cycling is most popular. Eventually, there will be 50 stations and 450 bikes. The county seal now appears on the bright red bikes along with the logos of DC, Arlington, and Alexandria, which already have Capital Bikeshare.

Map of where the new stations are in Montgomery County from CaBi’s website.

Several local officials attended and spoke at the announcement, including county councilmembers, state delegate, and representatives from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. Bike advocates, including the Washington Area Bicyclist Association were also there in force. Passers-by stopped to admire the bright red bikes and ask questions about the new service.

Passers-by admire the first of 50 new Bikeshare stations in Montgomery County.

The federally-funded expansion is one of the nation’s first bikesharing projects in a suburban area. If it’s successful, it could be an example for how to encourage cycling outside of large cities.

But first, county officials need to make area streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. Councilmember Valerie Ervin recently told WTOP she wants to fill gaps in the county’s trail network and ban right turns on red.

At today’s event, Councilmember Hans Riemer said he believes Capital Bikeshare will help Montgomery County attract businesses and younger residents who don’t want to drive everywhere. “Every time you see a red bike,” he said, “Recognize that we’re moving forward.”