On July 6th, after months of planning and community input, BikeShare finally became a reality for Columbia residents.

In a ceremony near Columbia’s Lakefront, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman was joined by area residents, bike advocates, members of the Horizon Foundation including CEO Nikki Highsmith Vernick, and Councilmember Mary Kay Sigaty for the official kickoff.

Now residents will have access to 70 BikeShare bicycles spanning seven locations in Columbia. The bicycles are equipped with an electric assist motor that will enable users to travel between locations either for a monthly fee or at an hourly rate.

BikeShare cycles are stationed at seven locations, including Howard County General Hospital, Howard Community College, the Crescent development, Columbia Town Center, Lake Kittamaqundi, Oakland Mills Village Center and Blandair Park.

BikeShare programs are common in virtually every major city in the United States and are quickly spreading across metropolitan suburbs. Advocates say the cycles provide a means of transportation who might not otherwise have one.

The concept is remarkably simple. BikeShare platforms are set up around the city, giving people the option to rent a bike for a short period of time, even if only to get from point A to point B.

You can pay by the hour, and you can drop your bike off at any other location.

While it may seem trivial, BikeShare programs are most definitely convenient. For example, if you commute to work, you likely know that there are sometimes public transportation dead zones – even in Columbia. You might get as close as you can to your office using public transportation, but there can still be a 15-minute walk to get where you are going.

The Howard County BikeShare program won’t solve every transportation need, but it will help get folks from one place to another efficiently.

For more information on the Howard County BikeShare program, please visit the program’s website here.

Community Voices on BikeShare:

“Howard County Bikeshare will allow more people to easily and affordably bike between some of the most popular locations in Columbia. Bikeshare is an option for neighbors of all ages and abilities, whether you’re a student heading to classes at HCC or an older adult picking up a few groceries. This is a great way to promote healthy physical activity and contribute to the vibrancy of the downtown area.  The Horizon Foundation applauds County Executive Kittleman, the County Office of Transportation and all the partners who have gotten Howard County Bikeshare off the ground.”
— Nikki Highsmith Vernick, President and CEO of the Horizon Foundation

“The vision for a revitalized Downtown Columbia includes greater connectivity. The Bikeshare program increases connections while reducing reliance on the automobile. Cycling is better for the environment and for our health, and it is fun to travel Columbia’s beautiful pathways on a bike.”
— Greg Fitchitt, Senior Vice President for Development, The Howard Hughes Corporation

“Columbia Association supports Bikeshare because it gets people moving and it connects our community in a new way. We have an amazing network of pathways and Bikeshare is a super convenient way to get even more people using them.”
— Jane Dembner, Director of Planning and Community Affairs, Columbia Association

“Our mission here at Howard County General Hospital is to provide the highest quality care to improve the health and wellness of our entire community. We may be a hospital but we are partners in your health, and we want our campus to be a hub of healthy activity. Howard County Bikeshare now becomes part of that effort. We are ecstatic to be a partner in this endeavor with County Executive Kittleman. Bikeshare connects us as a community – and connects us to health. What could be better?”
— Steven C. Snelgrove, President, Howard County General Hospital

“Bikeshare makes it fun to get out and enjoy Downtown Columbia food, shopping and entertainment before, between and after classes. Bikeshare is a perfect fit with our commitment to sustainability, making it easy to get around with zero emissions. Overall, it’s about connections. Connecting people to places and connecting Howard Community College to the surrounding community.”
— Dr. Kate Hetherington, President of Howard Community College

“Howard County Bikeshare serves to better connect our community and provide a healthy mode of transportation. GGP and The Mall in Columbia are thrilled to be hosting one of the key stations within this new Bikeshare network.”
— Barbara Nicklas, Senior General Manager, The Mall in Columbia

I wanted to share one more video from Thursday's launch of Howard County Bikeshare. After we finished our ribbon cutting at Lake Kittamaqundi, teams from our community partners delivered the bikes to the seven stations scattered across Downtown Columbia. He's another point of view from a drone as the riders set out down the pathways and across the Route 29 pedestrian bridge. Make sure you follow Howard County Bikeshare. For more information about how to use Bikeshare and purchase memberships and passes, visit www.HowardCountyBikeshare.com.

Posted by Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman on Friday, July 7, 2017