In all honesty, I was originally hesitant to support Capital Bikeshare in College Park. I thought that if riders were unable to connect to the core of the system in DC, stations in College Park would see very little use. However, after hearing presentations about the future of Capital Bikeshare from DDOT’s Jim Sebastian, Alta Planning and Design’s Charlie Denny, and DC Councilmember, Tommy Wells, I am convinced that College Park can support a successful “satellite” system without having riders connecting to stations in DC. They sold me on the ability for a cluster of stations to support the transportation needs of a given area, even if not linked to the larger network.
Plans are already underway to establish a satellite system surrounding Shady Grove and Rockville in Montgomery County under the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program from the Federal Transit Administration. This system will include approximately 20 docking stations and 200 bikes.
Certainly, a similar system could be supported in College Park. In many ways, the city is an ideal location for Capital Bikeshare. First, the metro station is inconveniently located away from key destinations such as downtown and the University. However, the distance is easily covered within minutes on a bicycle. Second, Capital Bikeshare is an ideal way to move faculty, staff, and students across the University’s campus. Walking between destinations on campus can take 30 minutes or more, and becuase of this, many choose to drive, leading to additional congestion on campus and Route 1. Capital Bikeshare could reduce travel times for pedestrians while providing a safe, efficient, and healthy alternative to driving across campus. Finally, Capital Bikeshare could encourage more people to explore the regional trail network in and around the city.
Unfortunately, past attempts to receive funding for Capital Bikeshare in College Park have failed, but the overwhelming popularity of the system should guarantee that the program will continue to expand in the near future.
I now hope that College Park will receive dedicated funding for Bikeshare expansion sooner, rather than later. In that spirit, what are the ideal locations for Capital Bikeshare in College Park? Where can we maximize use and provide the most opportunities for bicycle transportation. For me, the obvious answers are the Metro station, the College Park Shopping Center, and the Stamp Student Union. But precisely where should these be located to maximize visibility and use? Where else should stations be located? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below.