The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is requesting a total of $922,000 in federal funds for the implementation of a Baltimore City bikeshare program and a feability study of a similar program in Howard County.
MDOT is requesting $882,000 to implement a bikeshare program in Baltimore City and $40,000 for the Howard County feasibility study, according to an announcement Monday from the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB). Baltimore's bikeshare program, according to the BRTB, is aimed at providing an affordable and healthy transportation option for residents, tourists and employees in and around the city's core neighborhoods. Currently, 35 percent of Baltimore households do not have access to a car and local bike counts show a 35 percent increase in commuter bicycling between 2009 and 2010, according to the BRTB.
Charm City Bikeshare plans include placing stations in a variety of areas, including low-income neighborhoods near downtown, with initially 425 bicycles at 44 stations.
At the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting earlier this month, Nate Evans, Baltimore's bike and pedestrian planner, said the city has continued to look for a way to bring a bike-sharing program to Baltimore after negotiations with B-cycle fell through last year. Evans said Baltimore City was seeking approval from MDOT and the State Highway Administration to begin contract talks with the bicycle-sharing company Alta, which operates the very successful and ever-expanding Capital Bikeshare program in Washington, D.C.
The Capital Bikeshare program in Washington, D.C., Alexandria and Arlintonton, VA, now includes over 1,670 bicycles at more than 175 stations. The bikes have been used to make nearly 3 million rides in the two years since the program was introduced. There are now also plans to expand the Capital Bikeshare program to Montgomery County.
In Howard County and Columbia, preliminary demand analysis indicates a strong likelihood for success, according to the BRTB. "A week-long survey to gauge community support received 700 responses with 77 percent expressing strong support for implementing a bikeshare program," according to the BRTB press release.