College Park hopes that the second time is the charm for a proposed bike-sharing program to be approved by the federal government, especially since the initiative could increase bicycle usage and improve public health throughout the region, officials said this week.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments tried to secure funding last year to expand the regional Capital BikeShare program and launch a priority bus system along K Street in Northwest Washington. The council secured funding for the bus system but was denied money to expand the bike-sharing program.
If the $11 million application is approved by the federal transportation department, the city of College Park and the University of Maryland would have 59 bicycles at 11 stations, according to MWCOG.
There would be 43 bicycles at seven stations on the University of Maryland, College Park's campus. Within the city, there would be 16 bicycles at four stations—in downtown College Park, at the College Park Metro station, at IKEA and at the newly opened Mazza GrandMarc Apartments on Baltimore Avenue.
Under the proposed Capital BikeShare program, residents would be able to use their credit or debit cards and pay $5 to rent a bike for the day. Once residents are finished with the bicycles, they can drop it off at any BikeShare station within the city.
This year, the region is in a better position to secure the grant for the bike-sharing program since a version of the program has been piloted in Washington, D.C. and Arlington for the past year, said Monica Bansal, a planner with MWCOG, which will submit a regional application on behalf of the jurisdictions to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In addition to the city of College Park and the university, five other jurisdictions are proposing to expand their Capital BikeShare programs, including Washington, D.C., the city of Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery counties.
If the grant is approved, the region would have the largest bike-sharing program in the nation, with 3,590 bicycles at 442 stations, according to MWCOG. The council of governments was expected to submit its pre-application on July 23, Bansal said. The final application is due Aug. 23.
To apply for the federal grant, local jurisdictions must put up 20 percent of the total cost. For College Park, that means putting $35,000 toward the grant, said Elisa Vitale, senior planner for the city.
"If we applied as part of a larger group, we could leverage more money," Vitale said. "It's a good thing that we're doing this collaboratively. We'll just have to submit the best application possible and hope we get the grant funds."
The bike-sharing program could increase transit accessibility to 500,000 jobs throughout the region and allow more than 2 million people to replace short car or walking trips with bicycle trips, according to MWCOG. The bike-sharing program could also reduce congestion, carbon emissions and accidents.