By Yelin Jung
For The Diamondback
Almost a year after its launch, mBike plans to expand its number of bike stations next month, said Steve Beavers, the city's community development coordinator.
The bike-share program — launched May 2016 through a partnership between the city of College Park, the University of Maryland and bike company Zagster — provided more than 21,000 trips in its first 11 months, according to recently released city data.
"This was even above and beyond the optimistic expectation we had for it," said Jon Terbush, Zagster's communication manager.
Given the high level of ridership, mBike will add 18 bikes and two stations in May, Terbush said.
The program, which now operates 137 bikes in 14 on- and off-campus bike stations, has 261 active members, according to the city data.
City and campus officials are impressed with how much people enjoy the program.
"The system is more familiar to people on campus," said Anna McLaughlin, Department of Transportation Services assistant director. "As more people get to know it and are aware of it, the membership numbers grow as well as the trip numbers grow." University Park will also soon join the mBike system with the two additional stations, Beavers said.
"We are looking forward to expanding it in the University Park, adding more members to our system and having more trips taken," Beavers said.
Bike-sharing is an emerging trend throughout the country, especially in urban areas like Washington and New York, said Eric Olson, executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership. The city and university implemented the system to offer different transportation options to locals, he said.
"They just have a borrowed mBike and ride wherever, a block or two to the restaurant without having to go all the way to their car, get in the car, drive down Route 1 and park the car somewhere," Beavers said. "They would have a much easier and faster and sustainable option to travel around the city."
With warmer weather approaching, the city and the university expect to see an increase in riders and trips, McLaughlin said.
"We hope to keep building up this success we've already seen," Terbush said.