The University of Maryland, Baltimore County launched a small bike-sharing program last week—believed to be the first in the Baltimore area—eight Diamondback bikes available for free rental to students, faculty, and staff from its Retriever Athletic Center.
It may be a sign of things to come at other local campuses down the road.
The bikes are available for varying lengths of time—an hour, afternoon, or day, for example—whether heading to downtown Catonsville, Arbutus, or Patapsco State Park, said Scott Westcoat of C'ville Bikes & The Hub on Frederick Road, which will service the bikes. Locks and helmets are included with each rental.
UMBC's bike-sharing program, Westcoat acknowledges, is hopefully just a beginning, a pilot effort. The idea, he says, is to demonstrate demand for a larger bike-sharing program around campus and possibly, help create similar efforts at other schools in the Baltimore area.
"The Student Government Association, which has wanted to do this for a while, and Mike D'Archangelo, the assistant athletic director and director of recreational programs, partnered with us and Diamondback offered the bikes," Westcoat says.
He adds that with trail work around the old Catonsville Short Line and hopefully, infrastructure work on the Bloomsbury Avenue tunnel in the near future, more student trips off campus—even linking with the Gwynn Falls Trail in Baltimore City—will become possible.
In College Park, the University of Maryland campus is expected this spring to become a full-fledged member of the Capital Bikeshare program, which links the entire Washington, D.C. metro area with bike rental stations (though not free) from Montgomery County to Northern Virginia. In its third year, Capital Bikeshare has surpassed the five million-trip mark. (Georgetown, American, Catholic, George Washington, and the University of the District of Columbia all have Capital Bikeshare stations on or near campus.)
Earlier this year, the University of Dayton announced it was offering free bikes to 100 incoming freshmen who promised not to bring a car to campus for their first two years.
According to a recent post on Bikemore's website (Baltimore City's nonprofit bicycling advocacy organization), the planned bike-share program for Baltimore City remains on track for a spring 2014 launch.
Also of bike-sharing interest, the New York Times reported yesterday that the Big Apple's new Citi Bike bicycle-sharing program has surpassed 5 million bike trips in its first five months. (And without any fatalities.)
*A video of the UMBC bike-sharing launch with an (indoor) mountain biking skills demonstration can be found here.