Sharing Bikes to Curb Cars – Baltimore Gets Ready for “Smart Bikes”

By Mark Reutter
Baltimore Brew
March 28, 2011

A 250-bike network for tourists or residents;                                  the first 30 minutes are free

Launched last September, Washington’s bike share program is used by 50% more riders than expected. Photo by: Fern Shen

It won’t be anything like those squeaky two-wheelers you rent for a Sunday spin around the park.

Baltimore’s Department of Transportation is in the process of selecting a vendor to operate a network of high-tech bikes and computerized kiosks to entice city dwellers and visitors to use bicycles to get around downtown and nearby neighborhoods.

Known as “bike sharing” or “smart biking,” the program has taken root in Denver, Minneapolis, Boston, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere after proving enormously popular in Europe.

The concept is simple – you pick up a bike at the nearest “B-station” and then drop it off when you’re done at any station in the network. The bikes can be accessed through a yearly membership or day pass. The individual is responsible for any damage or loss until the bike is returned to another hub and checked in.

The program is geared toward short-term use of bikes as urban transportation, not weekend recreation. To encourage brief hops from place to place rather than leisurely pedals up the bike trail, the first 30 minutes will be free to members and the next 30 minutes $1. After that, fees will rise sharply.

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