Prince George’s County’s first bikeshare system, mBike, is launching today in College Park.
mBike has 150 bicycles and 14 stations, located throughout College Park and the University of Maryland campus. Seven stations are spread out evenly within the UMD campus, generally in front of key destinations such as the Stamp Student Union, the Eppley Recreation Center, and one near an entrance to the Paint Branch Trail.
Four of the stations are located along Baltimore Avenue, along the Route 1 corridor, including one station at City Hall, another at a hotel, and a third near Northgate Park and Varsity Apartments. There is one mBike station at the College Park Metro station, which will be helpful for students and visitors to travel from the Metro station to downtown and the UMD campus, an approximate five-to-ten minute bike ride.
The last two stations are placed in the Hollywood neighborhood of College Park, one at the Holllywood Shopping Center near the REI store and the other near the Greenbelt Metro.
The cost of bike share memberships range from a $6 day-membership to a $65 annual membership. Regardless of membership type, the first hour of use is free and then costs $3 per hour. Similar to other bike share systems, riders can have unlimited rides at no additional charge as long as they formally end their trip at a station within one hour.
mBike uses smart bike technology, which allows users to access a bicycle with a smart phone or text message. The app or the text message provides the rider with a code which gives them access to a key attached to the bike. The technology is fast evolving and it’s possible that future versions will have Bluetooth or wireless locks.
Since the mBike bicycles have their own integrated bike locks, users can stop mid-trip and safely lock their bike share bicycle to any bike rack to run an errand or take a break before returning the bicycle to a mBike station in College Park.
The mBike system isn’t compatible with the Capital Bikeshare system; College Park officials reached out to Motivate (formerly Alta), CaBi’s operator, during the procurement process, but the company didn’t submit a proposal.
Zagster, a bike share operating firm that manages programs in many cities and university campuses including Carmel, Indiana, Medford, Oregon, and the
University of Ohio Ohio State University is managing mBike. Zagster also operates a bike share system for BWI airport, allowing travelers and airport employees to ride the BWI Trail.
This system will be an excellent opportunity for College Park, Prince George’s County, and anyone interested in bikeshare to experience a system that uses a different type of technology than what has been used in other parts of the region, as well as being a valuable transportation option for people in the area.
In addition to bikeshare for College Park, Prince George’s County is currently engaged in a feasibility study to determine the best approach for bringing bikeshare to the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area and National Harbor. Findings from the feasibility study are expected this summer.
There’s a kick-off event for the launch today, at 3pm on the University of Maryland campus.