University of Maryland students and College Park residents have a new option for biking in the area thanks to the launch of Capital Bikeshare, which opened its first stations in the area Friday.
Prince George's County launched the bike service at five locations, including Riverdale Park — near the Whole Foods Market on Route 1 — Largo, and near the county's border with Washington, D.C., said Paulette Jones, a spokesperson for the county's Department of Public Works and Transportation.
Steve Beavers, College Park's community development coordinator, said future locations — which are still pending approval from the county — could be near The Hotel at The University of Maryland, the College Park Metro station, on the southern edge of the city near Guilford Road or near Mowatt Lane.
While Beavers said he welcomes the county bringing in Capital Bikeshare, he added the city and this university will continue to fund their own biking service, mBike, which was launched in May 2016.
Zagster, the company that created the mBike program with the city and university, has a three-year contract with College Park and this university. University and city officials hope to renew the contract when it expires next year, Beavers said.
The city and university do not pay for Capital Bikeshare, but they don't regard it as competition for Zagster either, Beavers said, and he doesn't "see [Capital Bikeshare] as a bad thing."
"Let's say you live outside the county," Beavers explained. "You could ride the Metro in, hop on an mBike, and ride the bike to your classes. Providing the service, we give people another option, another way to get around, that does not involve a personal vehicle. It's a healthier option, and better for the environment as well."
To use the various Bikeshare stations, residents must either sign up online for a membership code or purchase a 24-hour, three-day or single-trip pass at a station's kiosk. The code or pass unlocks the bike, allowing the user to ride the bike for a fixed amount of time. When that time expires, riders can plug the bike back into any of the other stations.
Future stations — some of which are slated to be installed by the end of this summer — will need federal and state funding, Jones added.
Jones said the new bike service is a positive addition to the community.
"This certainly helps with having less cars on the road," Jones said. "It's a great way to have alternate means of travel."
She added that is an even more beneficial service "if you think about the health and welfare of our residents and our community" accelerated through the service.
Capital Bikeshare uses standard bicycles, usually with a red color, Jones said. Riders can pay a single-trip fee of $2 — which allows for a 30-minute ride — a 24-hour fee of $8 or a three-day fee of $17. Members can also upgrade to an annual membership, paying $8 monthly.