The city of College Park submitted an application at the end of July in hopes of being approved for a bike sharing program. The following is a Q&A with College Park's two dedicated bike stores, College Park Bicycles and Proteus Bicycles.
College Park Bicycles
College Park Patch: In general, how do you feel about a bike-sharing program coming to College Park?
RG: I think it's a good idea to get people out riding bikes. It's a good way for people to ride bikes who don't want to own one, although it'd be expensive if you used it very much. I'm in favor of it, and I think it would lead to more bike riding, and eventually, people would get tired of renting and want to buy a bicycle.
Patch: Do you have any concerns from a safety standpoint about people riding bikes around College Park?
RG: I think bike riding is inherently a dangerous activity. People need to bring their own helmet with them, since I doubt they'll be renting helmets. And if they don't know how to ride a bike safely they'll need to find someone to teach them.
Patch: As someone who works in a bike store, do you have any concerns from a business standpoint?
RG: No, I think in the long run it would increase business, because people are going to rent a few times and then decide to buy a bike.
College Park Patch: How do you feel about a bike sharing program coming to College Park?
JD: I think bike sharing is actually kind of awesome. I don't know how the program works in terms of what works or what doesn't work, how the bikes are maintained, who maintains them, whether they provide helmets and locks. So not knowing a lot about how the program internally works, but I'm assuming that they have all that figured out.
I guess my only concern is the roads. What safe routes would they recommend that people take? Part of the problem with College Park is there aren't a lot of safe bike routes. And the routes that they have, typically are recreational, so they're not really like, commuting. Going from Ikea to the university, you could figure some things out, but certainly, if someone doesn't know how to really negotiate around Route 1 and the traffic and the safer and unsafer areas, you wouldn't want novices experimenting. That would be my main concern, you know, what educational opportunities goes with that and recomended routes and do people ride at night. I think the city may have to do that first. It's kind of putting the cart before the horse a little bit. But maybe they have thought of it.
Patch: What would you recommend to someone renting a bike about riding in College Park?
JD: Like anything, they obviously have to wear a helmet. They obviously have to know how to ride in traffic. This is a very congested area. University of Maryland is the No. one commuter destination in the state of Maryland. There's some heavy-duty traffic here. They'd have to be somewhat savvy -- but there's no safe cycling on Route 1. That's not even an option. So when you take Route 1 out of it, it's a little bit convoluted as to how you can actually get any place, work-wise. I would encourage people to maybe go on the Internet and find out how people are maybe doing the same commute and what routes they recommend. I would try doing a route either in a car first, or doing it a few times. You really got to do a lot planning and preparing. This is not an easy city to commute in with a bike.
Patch: From a business standpoint, are you concerned that something like this would affect your role here?
JD: No. The more people who ride, the better for everyone.