BY REBECCA BENNETT — The Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is conducting a feasibility study to determine how Prince George’s County can set up a sustainable and successful bikeshare program.
The study area includes the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (inside the Beltway,) the City of Greenbelt, and the National Harbor, throughout which there are many municipalities, community groups, issues and moving parts, M-NCPPC’s Fred Shaffer said. The feasibility study is expected to identify opportunities, constraints, development implementation plan and identify funding opportunities.
Assistant Hyattsville City Administrator Jim Chandler said that it’s encouraging and a positive sign that the county is investing resources to look at the feasibility of a bikeshare system. “With the completion of the first phase of the Trolley Trail linking College Park to Hyattsville along the U.S. Route 1 Corridor and in the future could link into the existing [Washington,] D.C. trail system, making biking a more viable commuter alternative,” Chandler said.
Bikeshare ventures operate around point-to-point trips. In the case of Capital Bikeshare, users generally get the first 30 minutes free and pay for longer rides, which means in-network stations need to exist in close proximity to one another.
The City of College Park is working with Smart Bike, which does not interoperate with the Capital Bikeshare system. Shaffer said there are many factors why College Park decided to go with Smart Bike, including financial incentives.
But, M-NCPPC wants the bikeshare to tie in with College Park and surrounding jurisdictions. Tying in Capital Bikeshare with third party options in not available at the moment, but consultant R.J. Eldridge from Toole Design Group said third party solutions are working on tying in systems.
One question the feasibility study needs to answer is how many Prince George’s County residents already pay for Capital Bikeshare memberships, consultants said.
Demand analysis, according to M-NCPPC, includes employment density, population density, attractions, bicycle modshare, transit density, existing bikeshare infrastructure, topography, and equity.
Study consultants said Prince George’s County could see bikeshare in six months, but no money is allocated in the county budget at the moment.
Chandler said the city has made some initial investments in bicycle infrastructure and acknowledges the availability of a bikeshare system is necessary to be competitive in the D.C. market and now seen as part of a community’s amenities package.
Anyone with feedback can contact M-NCPPC Planner Coordinator Fred Shaffer at email@example.com or at 301.952.3661.