Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Late but real: Baltimore bike share

Bikeshare, a bike rental system that many cities across the United States and the world have successfuly employed for at least a decade, has always been right around the corner for Baltimore.
Left to right: Caitlin Doolin, Baltimore City bike and
pedestrian planner; Jay Decker, Baltimore City bike share
coordinator; Liz Cornish, Bikemore executive director. 

(photo:Ron Cassie)

Come 10/28 it should be real here as well: 150 bikes will be available at 20 initial stations. Once spring arrives and biking will be more popular, Baltimore's bikeshare company Bewegen (German for to move) will deploy phase two with another 30 stations and a then total fleet of nearly 500 bicycles, almost half of the electric!
The initial locations of Bike Share stations cover neighborhoods in Southwest, South, Southeast and Downtown Baltimore. Carroll Park, Druid Hill Park, and Patterson Park will all have also stations so that those who are new to biking or use biking for recreation will have access to stations in close proximity to trails. All bicycle riders have to be 18 years of age, though.
Station location was determined by weighing a variety of factors including:

  • Density: Bike share systems in many other cities have shown that stations that are only a five minute walk apart provide more convenient, reliable service and are used much more frequently than systems with more far-flung stations.
  • Logistics and Cost: Stations need a certain  amount of space and infrastructure, for example an electrical conduit for charging. Many of the Phase I stations are being sited at MTA Transit hubs to assist with first and last mile connectivity. MTA is the sponsor for those stations and assumes the cost. 
  • Equity: Bike share cannot solve Baltimore’s transportation inequities but equal access to the system is especially important in Baltimore which is seen by many as two cities in one, the "white L" and the "black butterfly". 
A Bewegen tester bike with electric boost
(photo: ArchPlan)
While the Baltimore system won't be compatible with the eight year Capital Bikeshare in DC (3,500 bicycles in DC, Alexandria, Arlington and Montgomery County) we will be the ones with the power assisted bicycles in the fleet.

A up to 45 minute trip on one of the rental bikes will be $2. Trips over 45-minutes will cost an additional $2 per half-hour. Monthly passes are $15, they include unlimited 45-minute rides.

There are some annual "Founder's Passes" left for $100. The city offered up 250 of these passes to riders who want to get in on the action early. The passes include unlimited 60-minute rides, a guaranteed $100 annual rate for life, invitation to the bike share launch party on Oct. 28, a free water bottle and a free Zipcar membership.
The Baltimore bikeshare bikes are still in a container
(photo: BBJ)

Bikeshare is considered an "entry drug" into bicycling: Those who don't own a bike or just want to try out how it feels to ride one can do so with a very small cost. In Baltimore and thanks to the electric booster bikes, using a bicycle now can become an option even for those who are afraid they may not make it up a hill. The integrated battery powered motors will kick in and make riding uphill or against the wind a piece of cake. Electric bikes have seen an increasing market share in Europe not only among the elderly but also among bike enthusiasts that use the electric power for a wider range or higher speed. Rental bikes are a great way to explore a city for the tourist that wants to see more than the water's edge at the Inner Harbor and it is also a good way to cover the so-called last mile at transit stations, i.e. a distance home or to work that is a bit more than one wants to walk.

Cities that have experience with a network of bikeshare stations report that the availability of bikshare did, indeed, increase bicycling in general. The new two-bike corridor on Maryland Avenue will be done just in time for taking the new bikes on a spin.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

BBJ article
Bikemore info about bikeshare
Bewegen bike station 

related article on this blog:
Will 2016 be the year of the bike?