Baltimore lagged a bit behind its neighbors in the Zipcar department -- we finally got them last summer, long after Washington and Philadelphia -- but it looks like we might not be so poky when it comes to an organized system of public bikes for pay.From Baltimore Brew:
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. (More here.)
Baltimore Velo was quick to crow this morning about the idea, which would certainly give them another topic area to cover in blog posts. (For example, a good chunk of Wash Cycle's attention now goes to the DC bikes.)
A word of caution for the city: Site placement will be a key factor in whether this succeeds or fails, as will be the presence of well-drawn system maps at each station. Visitors moving between Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor have a good collection of dedicated lanes/paths, while any attempt to start a Harbor-to-Mount Vernon bike trip will likely meet with frustration, unless users are well-warned of what they're in for. The Jones Falls Trail extension will obviously help, but in the meantime, giving tourists good information can help prevent woes.
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Photo credit: Reuters