Photo by San Diego Shooter on Flickr.

When Capital Bikeshare launches later this year it will have about 1,100 bikes. That’s going to be great, but how much better does a 3,600-bike system sound?

On Friday the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) submitted a grant request through the TIGER II program to dramatically expand Capital Bikeshare. In addition to the 1,000 bikes in DC and 100 in Arlington that will launch the system, TPB’s proposal would add approximately:

  • Another 1,000 new bikes to the District, for a total of 2,000
  • 900 new bikes in Arlington, for a total of around 1,000
  • 150 bikes in Alexandria
  • 100 bikes in Reston
  • 250 bikes in Montgomery County, in and around downtowns Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Rockville
  • 50 bikes in College Park
  • In addition to bikesharing, the proposal requests funds for new bike stations in Reston and Silver Spring

Bikesharing has the potential to revolutionize intra-urban travel. Cities that have rolled out large networks have seen dramatic increases in cycling as transportation. But the size of the system really matters. SmartBikeDC was clearly far too small, and while Capital Bikeshare’s 1,100 bike system is a good start that will have dramatic effects in a few key neighborhoods, we’re going to need a much larger system if we want to see Paris-like results. This TIGER grant, if we get it, would be a fantastic step towards that goal.

Last year the TPB submitted a much larger multi-modal TIGER request that included bikesharing, but was only awarded funds for bus improvements. This year’s submission is focused completely on cycling.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado and lives in northeast DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post .