Bikesharing Comes to College Park

Photo courtesy of Zagster

Photo courtesy of Zagster

Bike-sharing has finally come to College Park, moving the greater Hyattsville area closer to a more comprehensive transportation system.

The University of Maryland and the city of College Park launched a bike-sharing program called mBike, using bicycles supplied and maintained by Zagster, a Massachussetts-based company that services a number of other college towns.

The 120 bikes are spread around 14 stations, including seven on campus and one at the Metro stop. Riders can sign up for $6 daily, monthly, six-month or $65 annual passes. Rides are free for the first hour and $3 an hour after that.

The idea of bike-sharing has been around since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until technology came along to prevent theft and vandalism in the late 1990s that it really took off. Capital Bikeshare has been in D.C. since 2010 and extends all the way to Takoma Park.

Because it uses a different company, mBike doesn’t link up to Capital Bikeshare, which is too bad because it means you can’t check out a bike and ride it to a neighboring city. For now, that’s not a huge deal, since the vast majority of users are making short trips anyway, and city officials said Zagster was cheaper.

Hyattsville has explored getting a state grant— as College Park did—to add bike-sharing stations, and Prince George’s County has looked into adding bike-sharing in Greenbelt and other places on Route 1.

But future bike-sharing along Route 1 will now face a choice between expanding College Park’s system or joining up with the larger Capital Bikeshare system.

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