Most major cities have a bike share program where anyone can rent a bike from designated bike stations and return them to a different station later that day.
Baltimore, however, does not, but officials said they’re closer than ever to turning the idea into a reality. The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is expected to approve a bike vendor contract Wednesday morning. Officials hope to have the program fully operational by this fall.
“The city has tried to do this several times before but really to no fault of the city's, they haven't been able to get it done. In one instance, there was a bankruptcy of an operator,” said Jon Laria, chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission.
The city has selected Bewegen Technologies for the design, installation, maintenance and operation of the bike share system in Baltimore. A $2.3 million contract was submitted for the board’s approval. And although Baltimore’s program has been delayed, Laria said it’s to the city’s advantage.
“We really have an opportunity to take advantage of some of the newer technologies that are now available in bike share,” said Liz Cornish, executive director for Bikemore, a Baltimore bike advocacy organization.
That technology includes programs like E-assist, which Cornish said will make Baltimore’s bike share program more competitive with other cities.
“So when you're pedaling a bike you might be using your own momentum to get it on a flat street and then as soon as you start going uphill you might find that your physical exertion may not need to increase to power the bicycle,” Cornish said.
She hopes that'll encourage more people to bike to work without having to worry about their attire or sweating. They also want to change people’s perceptions to make biking an everyday activity in Baltimore.
“They are a viable transportation option. Biking improves public health outcome, it improves air quality and it's fun,” Cornish said.
The city expects to release more information on the program’s pricing structure and desired station locations Wednesday morning. Laria added that the public will get to weigh-in on where some of the stations will go.