View Full Version : Prince George's County still studying bikeshare feasibility

11-29-2015, 12:31 PM
I posted this article on the College Park bikeshare thread. But it covers Prince George's County more generally. The County is still working on a feasibility study for bikeshare. The study won't be finished until next year. No word on if or when the rest of Prince George's will ever get bikeshare.

The study is apparently focusing on the Rte. 1 corridor as well as on National Harbor. I found some of the quotes very surprising. National Harbor has always come across as ambivalent at best about cycling. Some might even say they were outright hostile to cycling, given the crushed shell path from the Wilson Bridge to the main NH development, rules against biking on the property and occasional harassment by security guards (according to some reports). I've had mixed experiences there myself, although I haven't been there in a couple years. On some days, I haven't had any issues. But one time, a security guard tried to tell me that cyclists are not even allowed to ride on the streets there. (Maybe I'm not remembering the details correctly. This happened a couple years ago.)

“We have 1,500 residents here at National Harbor, and a lot of them take Metro, so there’s a great opportunity for people to bike-share to King Street Metro,” said Deborah Topcik, a marketing manager for National Harbor.

Topcik said bringing Capital Bikeshare to the waterfront community would not only offer a good amenity for tourists but also provide an alternative mode of transportation between southern Prince George’s and Northern Virginia. National Harbor is serviced by a couple of bus lines; there is no Metro station.

Many National Harbor visitors use the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail to travel between the two jurisdictions, she said. National Harbor envisions several bike stations, including one at Tanger Outlets on Oxon Hill Road. She said a station might also be good at the MGM casino that is under construction and slated to open next year.

Greenbelt is also interested in bikeshare.

There's a quote from Jeff Lemieux:

“We’ve got all those great bike trails, but they need to be connected a little bit better, and bike lanes on the streets are still pretty spotty,” said Greenbelt resident Jeff Lemieux, an avid rider and activist with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. “They are few, and where they are, some of them are just a line of paint on the road so it’s not safe when traffic is moving fast.”

A bike-share program, he said, would help because it would lead to more riders on the roads, more awareness among drivers about their existence and more pressure on the county to invest in bike facilities.

11-29-2015, 01:22 PM
I've written to the National Harbor property managers in the past to suggest that they join Capital Bikeshare. I believe others have written to them too. I don't know how much our emails influenced their thinking, but maybe it helped a little. The residents at NH have probably asked for bikeshare as well.

Glad to see that they now appear receptive to the idea. This should also mean that the facility could become more accommodating to cyclists in general. I think they would need to pave at least part of that crushed shell path, for example. It's possible to ride on the path especially with CaBi bikes. But it's not exactly ideal. If people are going to be riding between Old Town and NH for transportation purposes, they won't want to be slowed down so much by that path.

The site could also make it easier to ride from that path to the street network at NH, instead of putting up roadblocks and hints that cyclists are not welcome past the entrance from the path. The main NH site is large enough that it takes a while to walk from one end to the other. That would be an ideal trip on CaBi. People attending conventions at the center would have more convenient access to the restaurants and shops on the north end of the site. They would also be able to bike up to the (future) casino and the Tanger Outlet mall from NH. I doubt many people are walking between NH and the outlet mall now. That's nearly the same distance as that of the entire National Mall, from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

If NH does join CaBi, they need to have multiple stations at the main NH site itself. Not just one at NH, one at the casino and one at the outlet mall. Not just because of the distances at NH but also for rebalancing issues. If one station is full/empty, there should be others nearby. (Of course, all of them might be full/empty at the same time, but that's less likely if there are multiple stations.) People won't ride to/from Old Town if they expect the NH stations to be full/empty all the time.

Bike traffic from convention attendees probably won't be tied to rush hour periods. I would think that it would vary throughout the day and evenings. Would a lot of the residents use CaBi to commute to Old Town and the Metro? I don't know. It's a nice casual ride but perhaps a little too long for most casual bike commuters. If many of the trips are casual rides by visitors, then there would be less of a need for rebalancing stations, because those trips are less likely to match rush hour patterns.

I know that I would ride over there more frequently if there were bike stations at NH. The ride across the Wilson Bridge is nice but not enough to bring me over there that often.

CaBi could also make it easier for NH to host expos for large races like the Marine Corps Marathon. The MCM will be moving their fitness expo to NH for at least the next two years (because Events DC kept switching them between the DC convention center and the Armory, which is too small for the MCM expo now). While race expos won't dominate the NH convention schedule, there are enough of them to raise the visibility of NH.

CaBi could also help to wash away the bad memories of the ill-fated Hot Chocolate 15K/5K race at NH a few years ago. Look it up if you're interested. It was one of the biggest messes in the DC area for an athletic race. Too many people trying to get into NH on the same morning. Didn't work at all. The Chicago-based organizers were barred from running future events in the county, at least unofficially. Unlike the Hot Chocolate race, which took place at NH, an expo doesn't require all the people to arrive in a narrow time window. There will still be a lot of people for the MCM expo, but that can be spread out over two or three days. For the Hot Chocolate race, thousands of people tried to get to NH within the same few hours on race morning.

CaBi wouldn't make it possible to host any large races at NH, but it might make any race expos more palatable, by giving them another option to get to NH. Many runners may not want to bike between Old Town and NH on the day before a long running race, to conserve energy. But some might. Plus many friends and family members of runners also attend the expo. They don't need to be as careful about pre-race energy expenditure as the runners do.

11-29-2015, 02:06 PM
PotomacCyclist, thank you. You highlighted the reasons I've ridden all the way into National Harbor, beyond the Wilson Bridge, *twice*. That's it over all the years it's been open. The last time, a couple of years ago, supposedly bikes were not allowed beyond the crushed shell path, no bike racks at that point, NO SIGNS POSTED. I rode all the way to the Peeps store before a security guard gently (thank you) reminded me of the ban.

I could manage the shells on 700x32 Conti touring tires. Not easy, but doable. *I* had no fear of punctures, but a fast road tire on that surface entails risk of flatting from cuts.

If anyone from National Harbor is reading this, you're missing a *golden* opportunity to make it easier for Alexandrians and DC'ers to get to your stores, restaurants, hotels, casinos, etc. *$$$* and tax revenue. Do not fear CABI. Join the network.

12-10-2015, 05:42 AM
I rode over to National Harbor recently, the first time in a year or two. I posted about it on the RackSpotter thread. I was very surprised to see that there are now bike racks everywhere in the main restaurant/retail area. Bike racks on every corner of the two main streets (except for a quiet corner next to a parking garage).


No bike racks at the convention center though, unless they were hidden inside another parking garage. The crushed shell path is still in place too. I rode over on cyclocross tires. It wasn't too bad, but I still don't enjoy riding on that surface.

Glad to see that the property management has changed their views about cycling at NH for the most part. No one said anything as I rode around. I passed by Prince George's County police as well as NH security. They didn't say anything to me about riding there. I stayed on the streets for the most part. I rode on a couple empty sidewalks but I slowed down to walking pace when I did that. I rode very slowly in general because the area was crowded with visitors.

I also rode up past the MGM casino site. That project is massive, about the length of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. The design also looks like an Imperial Star Destroyer from Star Wars, sort of. It's a moderately steep climb from the main NH site to the top of the MGM casino resort. That could present problems for casual cyclists, especially if they are riding heavy CaBi bikes in the future.

The Tanger Outlet mall is also uphill from NH. I'm a bit out of shape right now (or I could say I'm not in peak form at the moment) and I got gassed by pushing too hard up the hill. My bike is fairly heavy but it's still lighter than a CaBi bike.

I have to think that there will be a lot more downhill CaBi traffic than uphill traffic if NH becomes part of the CaBi network. This might present rebalancing issues. I don't know if there would be rush hour rebalancing problems there. While there are a couple offices at NH, is it really a major business center? I wouldn't think so, but maybe there are more offices than I know about. The restaurants/bars and convention center at NH wouldn't necessarily have peak hours. Same with the casino and the outlet mall. There might be more traffic to all three destinations in the evenings, after locals get out of work. But I'm not so sure that would result in rebalancing problems by itself. The bigger issue will be the steep climb up Harborview Ave. Something to consider as NH and Prince George's start to plan for future CaBi stations.

It's similar to the elevation change between downtown DC and the Columbia Heights/Petworth areas. I remember reading that there is more AM rush hour CaBi traffic (from CH/Petworth to downtown) than PM rush hour CaBi traffic in the reverse direction, most likely because of the hills. While NH may not have the same work commute bike patterns that DC does, the hill might lead to many more trips from Tanger/MGM down to NH than uphill trips.

If most of the NH-area bike trips are within the main NH area, then this might not be a major issue. But if a large percentage of the NH-area trips are between NH and MGM or NH and Tanger, then there would be a need for more rebalancing throughout the day. The NH stations could be serviced with vans that also cover the Alexandria stations. It's not too far a drive across the bridge (but it will be slower during peak commute periods).

Just some early thoughts about potential issues for NH bikeshare. I still think it's a great idea but they will have to keep the rebalancing issues and the Harborview Ave. hill in mind.