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Penrose Square bikeshare station relocation causes stir

(Updated 9:55 a.m.) A Capital Bikeshare station in Penrose was relocated Wednesday to free up more street parking in response to concerns about safety and illegal parking.

But some residents are unhappy about it.

“We fail to see how relocating the Bikeshare station will help with the illegal parking at Penrose Square, as those problems existed well before the Bikeshare Station’s installation in 2022,” Chris Slatt, president of Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County, told ARLnow.

Slatt — who also serves on Arlington’s Transportation Commission — argues relocating the bikeshare station two blocks away along S. Wayne Street won’t solve the numerous traffic and safety-related issues that have plagued the square.

Instead, he says it will make “life more difficult for people choosing not to drive to the area, such as Bikeshare users.”

The planned relocation is meant to address “double-parking from pick-up/drop-off traffic at one of the Penrose Square retailers,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Claudia Pors wrote in an email.

“In the new configuration, the curbside lane next to the retailers will be turned into 15-minute pick-up/drop-off (PUDO) parking, and travel lanes will shift toward the west side,” she said.

The county did not specify which retailer it was referring to. However, Slatt and a nearby business owner previously noted that the illegal parking issue worsened after the Starbucks (2413 Columbia Pike) moved in eight years ago.

Pors said the plan is to move the bikeshare station back to Penrose Square in 2025 once Segment D of Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvements Project  — slated to start next week — is finished and the “station is determined safe to move to this final location.”

Pors said the S. Wayne Street location was chosen because of adequate sidewalk width, continuous sunlight — used to power the bikeshare station — and its proximity to public space.

The station’s new permanent location has not been confirmed, but Pors said the county is seriously considering “the grassy area in front of the wall at the south end of the plaza, near the Burrito Bros.”

Construction prevented the station being moved there now.

“Segment D construction will at times close sidewalk access in front of the plaza and narrow travel lanes on the Pike, which could add a pinch point or prevent people from accessing the Bikeshare station,” Pors said.

While Slatt says he generally supports moving short-term parking for vehicles to the other side of S. Barton Street, he disagrees it should come at the cost of the bikeshare station.

“This location was chosen in 2022 through a community conversation and online survey which indicated majority support for putting the station on Barton Street,” Slatt said, adding its proximity to the grocery store and park is more convenient than the new temporary location.

Slatt also voiced his frustration that residents were only told about the move last Wednesday, and there wasn’t enough time for the community “to comment, object, or suggest other solutions.”

Pors said the county typically does not “seek input on temporary relocations of Capital Bikeshare stations.” Moreover, she noted that relocating it to privately owned spots in the plaza would have been more time-consuming process, whereas moving the station to S. Wayne Street was more convenient because it’s a public space.

Penrose resident Christiann MacAuley — also opposed to the relocation of the bikeshare station — said she thinks there may have been “some miscommunication” between the county and residents.

“It’s surprising was that apparently ‘the community’ was consulted, but none of the transportation or bike people in the neighborhood seem to have heard anything about it,” she told ARLnow.

Either way, MacAuley said, “it’s hard to imagine how the new plan will fix any of our traffic problems here.”

Those problems, as documented by a local resident on social media, include drivers making illegal U-turns, double parking, and making other unsafe driving maneuvers while rushing to pick up their orders at Starbucks.

Slatt said Starbucks should put up signs encouraging customers to instead use the garage, which offers an hour of free parking. He also advocated for more parking enforcement in the area.

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