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BWI introduces bikeshare pilot program for airport trail

Fort Meade (military base)

Visitors, employees and neighbors of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport now have a new option for enjoying the 12.5-mile trail that loops around the airport's Anne Arundel County property.

The Boston-based bikeshare company Zagster, working with BWI, has installed a dock for 10 of its bicycles outside the airport's international terminal, near the light rail station. They are available for rental for $5 a day. Long-term passes for regular use cost $15 a month or $50 a year.

Officials envision the bikes being used by airport travelers with time to kill and an urge to get outside, employees looking for a bit of exercise on a break or after work, and neighbors looking to take better advantage of the trail.

For now, there is only one docking station, meaning riders are expected to return to the spot where they started. An airport spokesman said officials plan to evaluate other potential docking sites, including in the BWI hotel district, at the MARC rail station and near Fort Meade.

"One group of customers that we foresee would have some interest are the military service members that frequently travel through BWI, sometimes with extended layovers," spokesman Jonathan Dean said.

The airport has a one-year contract with Zagster to lease 10 bikes for $140 per bike per month as a pilot program, Dean said. The total yearly rental cost of $16,800 is being funded through the airport's operating budget.

The trail around the airport was completed in 1994 but has received increased attention in recent years, some of it due to the launch of the Cycle Maryland program in 2011 to promote and increase funding for cycling in the state.

Bikeshare programs have gained popularity around the country in recent years, including in Washington. But efforts to bring a program to Baltimore have stalled.

Zagster pitches itself as a bikeshare option not for entire cities, but for smaller communities and institutions, including universities, businesses, hotels and residential complexes.

"People don't normally associate bike sharing with airports, but in this case given the proximity to a great bike trail, and BWI's commitment to community and health, Zagster is a great fit," said Timothy Ericson, the company's co-founder and CEO.

Zagster's mobile app, available for iPhone and Android systems, allows users to enter a bike's identification number and receive a code to unlock a bike. Once rented, the bikes can be locked and unlocked throughout the duration of a rental before being returned to the docking station.

krector@baltsun.com

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