A pilot bike share program will begin in Downtown Columbia by summer 2017, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced Friday.
Kittleman said the program, which includes seven bike sharing locations financed through partnerships with organizations like Howard Hughes Corp., the Columbia Association and the Horizon Foundation, is a "hip" and "cool" way to encourage what he called a healthy, forward-thinking transportation model.
The county is in the process of finalizing agreements with partners, and will begin the bidding process for the pilot program in July, Kittleman said. After six years, the county will evaluate the program's effectiveness.
"Bikeshare is good for business," said Kittleman. "It'll bring an energy to our community that will attract younger workers and the businesses that will employ them."
Bike shares will be located at Howard County General Hospital, Howard Community College, the Crescent development, Columbia Town Center, Lake Kittamaqundi, Oakland Mills Village Center and Blandair Park.
"The cool kids are really pumped up about having this BikeShare," said Bob Marietta, Howard Community College's facility renovations, sustainability and safety manager.
Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty said she looks forward to seeing the program become part of the county's adequate public facilities ordinance, which guides how public infrastructure aligns with the county's growth.
"We're talking about quality transportation that gets people from one place to another," said Sigaty, whose district includes downtown Columbia.
The program is modeled after Capital Bikeshare, a program with more than 350 stations across Washington, D.C.; Arlington and Alexandria, Va.; and Montgomery County.
"This is really going to be a bikeable and walkable community," said Greg Fitchitt, vice president of Howard Hughes Corp., downtown Columbia's master developer.
The Horizon Foundation is providing $450,000 over three years, according to Olivia Doherty, the foundation's communications director.