This month Bike Share is coming to Baltimore! Bringing Bike Share to Charm City has been a major priority of Bikemore since our inception. With the launch day just around the corner (we’re keeping mum on the date until we get the go ahead from the City), we wanted to share some facts about the system and why Bike Share is critical in making Baltimore a bicycling city.
1. Buy a Founding Membership, like RIGHT NOW!
Baltimore Bike Share is offering THE BEST deal for folks willing to be early adopters. They are selling 250 founding memberships. For $100 you lock in the annual price for life — saving tons of money on a monthly regularly priced membership, currently $15/month. The membership kicks in as soon as Bike Share launches.
And it comes with a free Zipcar membership for the current year and each year that you renew your Bike Share membership. When you receive your pass in the mail, it will include instructions on how to activate your Zipcar membership. Already a Zipcar member? Your package will include $35 of driving credit.
2. Phase one launch will mean 50 stations and nearly 500 bikes on the ground by Spring 2017.
The initial footprint of Bike Share covers neighborhoods in Southwest, South, Southeast and Downtown Baltimore. Carroll Park, Druid Hill Park, and Patterson Park will all have stations to ensure that those new to biking or those that wish to use biking for recreation will have access to stations in close proximity to trails.
Station location was determined by weighing a variety of factors.
- Density — In order for bike share to be convenient and encourage use, stations must be close together. As NACTO has learned from bike share systems in many other cities, “stations a five minute walk apart provide more convenient, reliable service and are used much more frequently than systems with more far-flung stations.” Baltimore Bike Share has made a conscious decision to start with a dense system over a smaller area to ensure the bikes on the ground are used regularly. As more resources become available, the system will build out and eventually reach all neighborhoods in Baltimore City.
- Logistics and Cost — In order for stations to operate, there are certain space and infrastructure requirements at each station site. Finding locations that met the required density, but also had access to electrical conduit that would not require major construction to access was key in conserving resources. Other constraints include conforming to existing right of way requirements and ensuring that stations do not block pedestrian access. Sponsorship also plays a role. Given the city’s constrained financial resources for the project — if a public or private entity comes to the table willing to sponsor a station, that does influence station location. For example, 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 — While bike share, given its limited scope and size, cannot and should not be viewed as a panacea to solve Baltimore’s gross transportation inequities, it was important to everyone in Baltimore that thoughtful consideration was given to how to provide access to the system. One part of access is having stations visible in your neighborhood. Bikemore worked with the City to champion both a short term and long term vision for station siting that will make Baltimore Bike Share inclusive and accessible for all residents that wish to participate.
3. Who can ride bike share?
Bike Share is available to any adult age 18 and up. There are not currently any options for transporting kids with Bike Share or for kids to ride them.
And going up hills will be super easy, because half of the bikes (the ones identified with a white lightning bolt on the back fender) have an electric pedal-assist that automatically kicks in. We'll have the largest electric bike share fleet in the Western Hemisphere!
4. What steps are being made to make is accessible to those without a bank account?
One of the ways to Bike Share is working to be ensure access is by accepting cash payments for monthly memberships. To pay with cash, you’ll call Bike Share to register. The pass will be mailed to you along with instructions to go to a particular location to pay. After paying, your pass will be activated for the next 30 days.
5. Will Bike Share be compatible with other systems?
While Baltimore Bike Share won’t be compatible with Capital Bike Share in DC (but constantly evolving technology doesn’t rule it out entirely in the future), conversations and technology is being developed so that it does become compatible with Maryland Public Transit. This means you could use your Charm Card to rent a bike — improving equity and accessibility. This is a service that will most likely be available in late 2017.
6. Who picked the bike design?
The bike design was selected by city staff. The purpose was to select something that would provide a blank slate so that once a title sponsor is secured, the bike design could be swapped out to reflect the sponsorship. Identifying sponsors who want to use the bikes and kiosks for advertising is a key component of Bike Share’s financial sustainability. Sponsorships conversations are underway and many station sponsors have already been identified. It’s quite common for systems to launch without a title sponsor and acquire them once the community responds positively to the new system.
7. Why does Bikemore love Bike Share?
Riding a Bike Share bike doesn’t require much planning, or a special outfit. When cities adopt bike share into their transportation network, they take a giant leap to make biking a normal, everyday activity for residents. That makes biking safer and cities healthier. A robust Bike Share system is critical to improving mobility and access to active transportation for Baltimore’s residents.
Convinced that Bike Share is a great way to get around?
Visit www.bmorebikeshare.com to sign up!