A bikeshare pilot program that provided fitness-friendly transportation in Columbia and Ellicott City is ending as officials evaluate the next generation of services to provide Howard County residents.
Existing bicycles and stations will be removed beginning Feb. 21. The current system relies on outdated 3G technology for communication between components, and upgrades have been determined to be cost-prohibitive. The vendor, Bewegen Technologies, will remove all equipment by Feb. 28. Howard County Bikeshare members will have their memberships prorated.
Bikeshare use has declined significantly since the onset of the pandemic. The program recorded 1,242 rides in 2020 after a 5-month closure, compared to a peak of 5,468 rides in 2019. The program recovered slightly in 2021 recording 2,788 individual rides. The most popular station was located near Lake Kittamaqundi.
The county is 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, during 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.