Washington's "Capital Bike Share"
What is this guy thinking?

If you’re car-less in Baltimore, the city’s thriving Zipcar service is a qualified godsend. The cars are almost everywhere, and if you consolidate your errands into as few trips as possible the whole thing can really work out in your favor. On the other hand, the $6-8 per hour fee makes the service totally impractical for getting to work. For that, it’s back to the bus.

By this time next year, the city plans to have a bike-share program in place. And, well, it still won’t be any kind of solution for Baltimore’s vehicularly challenged — even if you live in downtown, midtown, or Southeast Baltimore, where all the bikes will be.

That is, it’s no solution if the pricing is anything like D.C.’s program. There, after the first 30 minutes (which are free), rental fees ramp up to $12 and hour, up to $70 for a day, plus membership fees. (That’s actually more expensive than Zipcar!)

Maybe, instead of paying something like $75 a year for access to a bike share, we should just buy some $75 bikes. But I guess these kinds of programs are thriving, right? How? Why?

3 replies on “Bike-Share Program to Come to Baltimore”

  1. Unlike ZipCar, bike-share programs allow for one-way trips, so the systems are designed for short trips. A trip is defined as when a customer takes a bicycle until they return the bike at any docking station. In order to be convenient and cost efficient, and ultimately used by customers, there must be ample and conveniently located docking stations.

    Looking at a few examples in the Baltimore setting using DC’s pricing may help.

    Baltimore resident who lives in Canton and works in Locust Point example: resident purchases annual membership for $75. Assuming resident resides at a location bordering Patterson Park, they could use a bike for grocery trips to Safeway on Boston St, dock it there or at a nearby location, shop, un-dock and return home, docking the bicycle back at Patterson Park. For the work commute, the resident would take a bike again from the Patterson Park docking station and ride to Locust Point, docking the bicycle at a location near their work site. For the commute home, the resident would take a bike from the location close to their work and ride home, docking the bike at the Patterson Park location once again. Using bike-share for the commute alone would provide savings over using a car and the price of fuel.

    Tourist example: couple is staying at Hyatt (Light St, Inner Harbor) for the weekend. They could each purchase two, 24-hour ($7 x 4 = $28) or 3-day ($15 x 2 = $30) memberships, depending on how long they are staying. Assuming there was a docking station at Harborplace, they could walk across the street, each take a bike, and as long as their trips were 30 minutes or less, they would pay nothing more for transportation for the weekend. Assuming there will be docking stations at the following locations, they could ride to historical Ft McHenry, get something to eat in Federal Hill, shop in Fells Point, see a show at the Hippodrome, etc. Try renting a car or relying on a taxi cab for weekend for under $30.

    Bike-share would not be used by everyone in Baltimore, but with convenient and ample docking station locations, it could be used by many.

    1. Thanks, Eric! My mind was blown by the prices, but if they’re point-to-point it makes a lot more sense of course.

  2. The prices are incredibly reasonable considering that most people use the bikes for 30 minutes or less, which is free, apart from the member fee. Since I started using the bikes to commute in DC, I’ve saved about $50 a month on Metro fees. The best part about the system is the convenience, as Eric notes below, of being able to take the bike one way only. This means you can run errands during lunch, do a trip by bike that you would have walked, etc. It’s actually a godsend — I don’t know what I did before it.

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