Howard County Bikeshare Pilot Program Ending; Planning Underway for Next Generation of Transportation
A bikeshare pilot program that provided fitness-friendly transportation in Columbia and Ellicott City is coming to an end this month, as officials evaluate the next generation of services to provide county residents.
Existing bicycles and stations will be removed beginning February 21st. The current system relies on outdated 3G technology for communication between components, and upgrades have been determined to be cost-prohibitive.
“Our Bikeshare program has been widely used by residents and visitors for recreation, most often to bike around Lake Kittamaqundi and downtown Columbia. While our pilot program is ending, we now have the opportunity to test other modes of transportation for our community. We’re grateful to our many community partners who have collaborated with us throughout this process to ensure we’re providing the best options to our residents.” Calvin Ball – Howard County Executive
The vendor, Bewegen Technologies, will remove all equipment by February 28th. Howard County Bikeshare members will have their memberships prorated.
Bikeshare use has declined significantly since the onset of the pandemic. The program recorded 1242 rides in 2020 after a 5-month closure, compared to a peak of 5468 rides in 2019. The program recovered slightly in 2021 recording 2788 individual rides. The most popular station was located near Lake Kittamaqundi.
Howard County is currently working with community partners in Downtown Columbia and vendors to pilot shared electric scooters to Columbia. Implementation of a shared scooter program has been delayed because of both the pandemic and changes in business expansions plans of a vendor, SPIN, over the past several months. The Office of Transportation will assess rebidding the bikeshare contract after conducting a report on the e-scooter pilot later this year.
“Multi-modal transportation is a crucial part of ensuring Columbia is accessible to everyone,” Columbia Association (CA) President/CEO Lakey Boyd said. “CA is excited to see a new, innovative way to utilize our pathway system, allowing for more of our residents to enjoy our community and everything it has to offer. We are pleased to be part of yet another collaborative effort to make the Downtown Columbia Lakefront an even more desirable and widely available space to visit.”
“The Downtown Columbia Partnership is very excited about the arrival of scooters in Downtown Columbia and the first and last mile transportation flexibility they will provide for residents, employees, and visitors alike,” said Phillip Dodge of the Downtown Columbia Partnership. “I’m personally looking forward to using one to get from office to meetings to lunch and all over DTC.”