Bikeshare: the one-size-fits-all problem
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.