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Bikeshare: the one-size-fits-all problem

May 3, 2012

Yesterday it was announced that the City of College Park, MD and the University of Maryland would receive a $375K state grant to establish a bikeshare program.

The Patch writes that the city will be using DC and Arlington’s Capital Bikeshare system. It also lists the proposed locations of the 8 stations.  Individually, these all seem like logical locations. However, when viewed as a complete network, they are an odd choice.

For example, the 4 UMD locations are clustered on campus. An additional station is slated for the Varsity which is also on the northeast side of campus, west of Rt 1.  I do not understand why the campus chose not to spread their stations better. The library, student union, and parking garage stations (and the Varsity) are practically within sight of one another. As a result, a large portion of the campus is left empty.

The city created the opposite problem.  There will be a station at the Hollywood Shopping Center. This location by itself is great. It contains both a MOM’s and REI and can be reached by the Trolley Trail and Rhode Island Ave bike lanes. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a hike from the other locations (2.5 miles to UMD and 3.0 miles to the College Park metro bikeshare station). Because of this, officials seem to have added the final proposed station at Greenbelt Road and University Blvd solely for the purpose of being a leap-frog station and not as its own destination.

By not concentrating on the Baltimore Avenue downtown core, I hope city officials are looking at this initial installment as just Phase 1.   By laying the groundwork now, holes can be filled with time. The Hollywood location is near Greenbelt Metro and would give Greenbelt a good reason to join and integrate.  But with such distance between destinations and Starbuck-like distances between others, people may not feel bikeshare is a real option. The system will not take off.

A primary reason I joined Capital Bikeshare in DC was that stations seem to be everywhere. College Park needs to give the same perception despite limited resources.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Wilbur permalink
    May 3, 2012 3:57 pm

    Yip. The stations need to create a mesh network so that patrons can hop from station to station. If it is not a system of stations, it wont work and will be an expensive failure. But I LOVE hearing that campuses are considering joining.

  2. Marcus Afzali permalink
    May 4, 2012 1:44 pm

    These locations were just for the application – none are final and all are up to be changed. Should be a fun discussion. I personally think a focus should be put on the Paint Branch Trail and Rhode Island Avenue as both run north-south, both sides of route 1 (east and west) will be covered, and Rhode Island Avenue and Paint Branch both already have the most bike/pedestrian exlcusive trails. Wish we had enough more to have more than the eight locations we have!

    • May 4, 2012 2:05 pm

      I agree that in terms of already established bike facilities, centering the stations along RI and Paint Branch makes sense.

      A suburban bikeshare systems will have some unique challenges not dealt with in an urban setting. For example, we need to make sure stations aren’t only at shopping centers and other destination-type spots. If this is the case then it’s already too late for people to choose between car or bike for an errand. I think what needs to be done in putting stations at the center of large neighborhoods where trips can originate. A station in University Park Town Park comes to mind. It is centered and wouldn’t require people walking miles to a station just so they can bike another mile to the store. The refurbished Berwyn Heights Park and Riverdale would also be ideal “neighborhood stations.”

      And UMDs stations should be positioned at dorms, parking lots, and campus center.

  3. Marcus Afzali permalink
    May 4, 2012 1:52 pm

    I also made a google map that shows the current bike/pedestrian trails in the city (with one proposed trail in red), green cycles for current proposed bike locations, and blue question marks for what I think would make sense. We need public feedback and to form a plan, but this is just an initial thought.

    • May 4, 2012 2:14 pm

      Thank you for this. And for the record, I am very excited that College Park and the University are pursuing bikeshare. I just hate to think people might assume it will be a raving success with little forethought and design relying only on the news that Capital Bikeshare worked so well someplace else.

  4. Nancy L. Seibel permalink
    May 9, 2012 4:27 pm

    Good points. It’s an exciting step for College Park to take. I hope this and other public discussions help inform the final decisions.

  5. May 9, 2012 10:07 pm

    I know that our bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in Rockville has been very involved in figuring out where the stations will go. I figure there will at least be one at each of the Metro stops and one at Montgomery College and probably one at Town Square, but who knows otherwise. Our grant specifies that we need to place them at places of employment, so that should help avoid the shopping strip mall issue. I’m really looking forward to it.

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  1. College Park Receives Grants for BikeShare | KabirCares.org

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