by Rachel Feidelman
Since 2010, bikeshare programs have flourished throughout the United States, by providing residents of urban areas with a way to get where they need to be quickly, affordably and in an environmentally-friendly manor. Instead of requiring individuals to purchase their own bike, bikeshares transform them into somewhat of a rental service, allowing people to borrow a bike to get where they need to be and then return it at another bike-station. As of 2016, there are over 42,000 bikes in bikeshare circulation, 27 million users taking advantage of them and 88 million trips taken, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
One major limitation to this system is that they are typically only accessible within major cities. However, Prince George’s County is working to make traveling from more suburban areas in the county to Washington, D.C. possible via bikeshare. The University of Maryland and the City of College Park implemented mBike in 2016, with 17 stations across College Park, including many on and near campus. Zagster, the company that created mBike, has expended over the year, building stations as far as a 30-minute trip away, allowing bikers to get to metro stations giving them access to the nation’s capital.
On the flipside, Capital Bikeshare, a large bikeshare system in Washington, D.C., is simultaneously planning to expand into Prince George’s County soon.
Resources for the Future performed a study in 2016 concluding that Washington, D.C. traffic congestion has decreased by 4 percent because of bikeshare implementation. This number is only expected to increase as trends show a steady increase in usage and expansion of bikesharing in major United States cities.
While no final decisions have been made by the county on whether or not mBike and Capital Bikeshare will merge together or run simultaneously, the concept of being able to utilize transportation resources in this unique method is a large step toward reducing the area’s environmental footprint.
Rachel Feidelman is a student at the University of Maryland, studying journalism and economics. She is also an editorial intern with Natural Awakenings DC.