More Capital Bikeshare stations are in the works for the Tysons area, specifically in Merrifield and Vienna.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has proposed adding 10 new stations in the following locations, including what would be the bike-sharing service’s first stand at the Vienna Metro station:
- Caboose Commons
- Circle Woods Drive and Lee Highway
- Gatehouse Road and Telestar Court
- Hartland Road and Harte Place
- Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
- Javier Road and Arlington Boulevard
- Kingsbridge Drive and Beech Grove Drive
- Mission Square Drive
- Prosperity Flats
- Vienna Metro South Entrance
The expansion would bring the Tysons area up to 29 Bikeshare stations, including 15 in Tysons and one at the West Falls Church Metro stop. Fairfax County also has 16 stations in Reston, which is getting its own expansion starting in July.
Fairfax County is eager to expand Bikeshare in Merrifield, because the three existing stations that were installed there in 2019 have proven successful, generating some of the most trips per site in the county prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger.
“Plans to expand to the Vienna Metrorail station are underway to provide connectivity to the surrounding community,” Geiger said by email. “The Vienna area stations will also help provide access to the City of Fairfax, who is working to bring CaBi to their part of the region as well.”
While it is not included in Fairfax County’s expansion, Town of Vienna spokesperson Karen Thayer says the Virginia Department of Transportation has granted the town’s request for funding to add Bikeshare stations at multiple locations, including the Town Green and community center.
The total project cost will be $272,400, which covers engineering and design, equipment, and installation.
“We are currently waiting for VDOT to complete its internal process and respond with an agreement,” Thayer said.
For the county project, Geiger says transportation officials looked at a variety of factors when selecting the proposed locations, including the density of development and the potential to generate a lot of trips. The need for bicycling infrastructure is also considered “in an effort to improve transportation equity,” she says.
“On a more granular level, we like to place stations in areas that are already paved — on-street parking lanes are often easy for [installation] and future servicing, and has only a small impact on available car parking,” Geiger wrote, adding that docks typically take up no more than one or two parking spots.
The Merrifield expansion will be primarily funded with a $497,100 I-66 Commuter Choice grant, though that won’t cover the full cost of the project, which Geiger says is currently estimated to be around $600,000.
While Bikeshare usage in the Tysons area consistently rose prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 sank both ridership and membership numbers systemwide as people limited travel and many started working from home.
“At its worst, early in the pandemic membership was around 20% of ridership when compared to past years,” Geiger said by email. “Most of the lost trips were by annual members who were commuting by bicycle.”
Fairfax County saw a 50% decrease in Bikeshare riders in 2020 overall compared to 2019.
Geiger says ridership levels started to pick back up last summer, primarily from non-members, meaning people who were utilizing the service for a single trip or day instead of getting an ongoing subscription.
“Usage patterns systemwide changed as well, with fewer trips to Metro stations, but more to recreational locations, and grocery stores,” she said.
To improve multi-modal transportation, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) wants to hear from the public about 41 project possibilities — three of which are in Falls Church and Vienna.
The updates will be part of a project called the Six Year Program that spans from fiscal years 2020-2025. The program aims to reduce congestion around the region, according to a press release.
“The projects being evaluated cover multiple modes of transportation, including roadways, transit and pedestrian/bicycle facilities,” the release said.
Local Projects Under Consideration
The Town of Vienna proposes an expansion of its Capital Bikeshare program to help people get to the Metro, according to NVTA documentation. Changes would include the addition of four new bike stations.
“This town implementation of the Capital Bikeshare system will connect residents and the surrounding community to transit and trail options in the I-66 corridor, including the Orange Metrorail line, planned commuter buses, the W&OD, and the planned I-66 trail,” the document said.
Costing $282,400, the project would be completed in 2025, according to the proposal.
The City of Falls Church proposed $8.3 million to improve walkability and bike-friendliness along Park Avenue and West Broad Street, which are typically hectic area.
“Park Avenue connects to many of the city’s civic, recreational, and cultural resources,” documentation said.
If chosen for funding, this project would be finalized in 2026.
Another project proposed by the city would address safety needs near the West Falls Church Metro station by encouraging multi-modal transit and fixing problematic areas, documentation said.
“A pedestrian fatality occurred on this stretch of Shreve Road earlier this year,” the document said. “The scope of this project includes professional and construction services for a new multi-use path to better connect the W&OD Trail with the West Falls Church Metrorail Station.”
This proposal would cost $6.9 million.
A complete list of project propositions from other NoVA counties and localities can be found online.
How to Get Involved
Due to the demand for funding and a budget cap of $522 million, NVTA cannot fund all of the projects and must choose which ones to complete based on a variety of factors, which include community input.
“Public input is an important part of the Six Year Program Update process,” the press release said. “Feedback is encouraged and all public comment provided will be reviewed and considered.”
People interested in leaving feedback can either visit the website or call 703-642-4652. The deadline to leave a comment is Sunday (May 24).
Final projects are set to be adopted on July 9 at a NVTA meeting, according to the press release.
Image courtesy NVTA
Capital Bikeshare use has been steadily rising in Tysons over the last three years.
Between January and August, riders this year took 7,523 rides — 575 rides more than last year’s total. So far, ridership this year has gone up 8% compared to 2018.
Ridership jumped up last year as well. Capital Bikeshare experienced a 16% increase in Tysons ridership from 2017 to 2018.
The data is from the latest status report by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), which is slated to be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (Oct. 15).
The increasing ridership is likely to continue as more stations come to the Tysons area next year.
“FCDOT received a Commuter Choice grant for 10 new stations in the Merrifield and Vienna Metrorail area and is actively working on finalizing station locations for the Providence District Transportation Alternatives Program grant that will add up to 18 new stations to the Fairfax County system in 2020,” according to FCDOT.
The county finished a feasibility study of the Route 123 corridor between Route 7 and Burke Lake Park in partnership, according to FCDOT.
So far in Falls Church, riders have taken 322 trips, while riders in Merrifield have taken 2,181 trips this year, according to FCDOT.
Image via Fairfax County
How do you bike from Tysons to Reston? One person took to Twitter to ask that very question on Friday (Sept. 20).
While most of the tweets said the Washington and Old Dominion Trail is the way to go to, several people shared different routes for getting to the trail.
One person recommended that cyclists head from Leesburg Pike (Route 7) to Gallows Road down to the W&OD Trail. The trail follows Piney Branch Stream from Vienna to Difficult Run River, before heading north to Plaza America and Reston Town Center in Reston.
For cyclists who don’t want to head that far south, another person recommended a route behind Walmart (1500 B Cornerside Blvd) by the Spring Hill Metro station that connects to the W&OD Trail.
Another person suggested the new Vesper Trail, which runs through the Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley Park as another way to get to the W&OD Trail.
Get to Route 7 and Gallows and take Gallows down all the way to the W&OD trail; most of Gallows will have an unprotected bike lane, which definitely helps. You then take the trail all the way to downtown Reston. Not sure if I would do a CaBi for this ride, but to each his own.
— Jofi Joseph, CPA (@Jofi_Joseph_99) September 20, 2019
Darn — I had adjusted that map to match my preferred commute but when I shared it, it defaulted back to google’s recommended bike route. The google way is flatter, has many more turns, and uses the brand new short Vesper Trail. I suppose on a CaBi, the flatness would be helpful.
— J.T. E (@jtedc) September 21, 2019
Tysons has some changes underway aiming to make the area more bikeable and walkable.
The Route 7 Corridor Improvements Project plans to add paths between Reston and Tysons. Meanwhile in Tysons, the Jones Branch Connector is slated to open this fall, connecting the Tysons East and North Central neighborhoods.
For cyclists looking to rent bikes, Capital Bikeshare has brought more than a dozen bike-share docks to Tysons.
The map of where to find Capital Bikeshare docks around Tysons is starting to get a little more filled out.
There were 11 stations in our first roundup in October. Since then, the numbers have grown.
Currently, cyclists can find 14 stations in Tysons. One of the new additions is near Tysons Galleria (Park Run and Onyx Drive), while two other stations sit at either end of the soon-to-open Jones Branch Connector, connecting the area around Tysons Galleria, like The Mile and Valo Park with Tysons East.
The connector and new bike-share stations are part of an effort to capitalize on the new Capital One headquarters and upcoming commercial and residential development.
Image via Capital Bikeshare
The regionwide Capital Bikeshare is now open in Merrifield.
On Friday, June 21, Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth kicked off the launch of Capital Bikeshare at the Dunn Loring Metro station.
The new stations are located at the Dunn Loring Metro station, the Mosaic District and Merrifield Town Center.
The expansion is part of a broader Capital Bikeshare expansion throughout Fairfax, with new locations planned along Route 123 in Vienna, City of Fairfax and George Mason University.
For a monthly $8 membership, bicycles can be used for any ride under 30 minutes for free. Trips under 30 minutes are available for $2 systemwide for non-Bikeshare members.
The Capital Bikeshare expansion is part of an ongoing effort by Fairfax County to close the gap between the Dunn Loring Metro station and the Mosaic District, including a recent proposal to add in an autonomous shuttle running back and forth between the two locations.
Photo via Fairfax County
The Capital Bikeshare network soon could reach out to even more spots in the Tysons area.
At a Fairfax County Board Transportation Committee meeting today (Tuesday), staff went through plans to add new bike share stations throughout Tysons, Vienna and Merrifield, with potential to add them to McLean.
Currently, 30 Capital Bikeshare stations are located in Fairfax County, with 16 in Reston, 13 in Tysons, and one at the West Falls Church Metro station. The most recent Capital Bikeshare station in Tysons was installed in December at the McLean Metro station. On Friday (May 17) a new station is scheduled to activate at Hilton Headquarters (7930 Jones Branch Drive) on the other side of the Jones Branch Connector.
There are 17 proposed locations for new Capital Bikeshare docks in the Tysons area to be launched next year — including docks along the Route 7 corridor between Tysons and Falls Church and the Gallows Road corridor between Tysons and Merrifield.
In Merrifield, three new stations are planned to activate on May 22 at:
- Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station (2700 Gallows Road)
- Halstead Square Dunn Loring Metro Apartments (2729 Merrilee Drive)
- The Mosaic District (Merrifield Cinema Drive)
Six new stations are planned to launch in the area next spring.
A collaborative study for bike share expansion in Vienna was completed in March, and staff said the study recommended expanding the system throughout Vienna and considering a dockless bike share feature sometime in the future.
Along that route, Fairfax County recommends additional stations at:
- Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station (2700 Gallows Road)
- Vienna Metro station (9550 Saintsbury Drive)
- Gallows Road corridor
- Nottoway Park (9537 Courthouse Road)
- Circle Towers (9335 Lee Highway)
The Capital Bikeshare expansion in the study area is planned to be funded from the I-66 Commuter Choice program.
In the Town of Vienna, new bike share locations are proposed at:
- Town Green (144 Maple Avenue E.)
- Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street S.E.)
- Maple Avenue Shopping Center (180 Maple Avenue W.)
- Navy Federal Credit Union (820 Follins Lane)
- 444 Maple Avenue W. (currently a redevelopment project)
Yesterday (Monday), Capital Bikeshare also expanded into Falls Church with 11 stations.
There are few details, but the staff report indicates that future expansion could add the Capital Bikeshare to other areas like McLean.
There are 11 new stations in total, with six located either on Broad Street or within one block of it, according to Falls Church Communications Director Susan Finarelli. Other new stations include one at the West Falls Church Metro and one near a bicycle trail near Tripps Run Creek.
The stations are planned to activate this week for a “soft opening” with an official ribbon-cutting planned Monday (May 13), according to Finarelli.
The stations offer bicycles to rent through a membership and can be ridden to any other Capital Bikeshare station.
“We’re excited to be connecting to the regional network,” said Finarelli.
Finarelli said the opening is planned for 6:30 p.m. at the Capital Bikeshare station between Clare & Don’s Beach Shack and The State Theater on N. Washington Street.
— FallsChurchLife (@FallsChurchLife) May 2, 2019
Map via City of Falls Church
After a pilot phase last fall, battery-powered e-bikes are now a permanent fixture of the Capital Bikeshare fleet in Tysons.
As of 12:30 p.m., there were two e-bikes in Tysons: one at Westpark and Jones Branch Drive, east of Tysons Galleria, and one at Greensboro and Pinnacle Drive east of the Galleria, near The Boro development.
The e-bikes can be tracked on the Capital Bikeshare’s map, with lightning bolt icons showing the presence of an e-bike.
The new bikes can go up to 18 mph and are designed to help with hills. The e-bikes are typically an additional $1 to ride, but the extra fare is being waived for all riders until April 15.
Tysons is now up to 13 stations, with new stations added just north of Tysons Galleria and at the McLean Metro station in the last few months.
Image via Capital Bikeshare
Fairfax is eyeing bikeshare expansion along Route 123 from Tysons to Fairfax City, and Vienna is right in the middle.
At last night’s (Monday) Vienna Town Council meeting, Zan Frackelton, a transportation planner with Toole Design, updated the Town Council on an ongoing feasibility study considering whether bikeshare will work for Vienna and other localities along the corridor. The study is a collaboration between the Town of Vienna, George Mason University, and both Fairfax County and City.
Frackelton said Vienna’s relatively flat topography and a sprinkling of bike infrastructure make it a conducive to hosting a bikeshare system.
“We believe bikeshare is feasible in this area, but it requires some supporting actions,” said Frackelton, “such as ongoing improvements to the bicycle network to ensure people using this system have safe places to ride and reviewing policies as needed related to bicycling.”
While the red and gold Capital Bikeshare is the leading contender to fill the Vienna gap, Frackelton said it was also worth noting that the bikeshare market is becoming increasingly crowded with options, including the increasingly popular electric scooters.
“[Capital Bikeshare] is ideal for short, one-way trips,” said Frackelton. “But other systems are coming onto the scene, like dockless bikeshare and scooters, where you start your trip using an app and end where you want.”
However, Frackelton said Capital Bikeshare was the most logical choice for Vienna. With the expansion of the Capital Bikeshare in surrounding localities like Tysons and Reston, Frackelton also said Vienna was a logical next step for the Capital Bikeshare.
If Vienna does decide to go with electric scooters or e-bikes, which Capital Bikeshare is beginning to offer, Frackelton said the town will also have to consider new policies governing use of such devices. While Frackelton said the town could consider moving to dockless vehicles in the future, Frackelton said there’s not enough space on local roads to support that yet.
Among concerns raised by the Town Council was speeding on trails, which is not typically a concern for bicyclists but a potential problem if local bicycle trails become saturated with electric bicycles and scooters.
Town Council members also noted concerns that many of the late-night scootering in Washington, D.C. was done without lights or reflective gear that makes them difficult to see for cars. Frackelton said the study would look into these concerns as the study continues.
Frackelton said Fairfax County is planning to move forward with grant applications for funding for Capital Bikeshare stations and begin finalizing locations in 2019.