Bike thefts are increasingly common across the Metro transit system — and the College Park station is no exception, despite Metro attempts to increase bike security.
In May 2012, Metro officials unveiled the first “Bike & Ride” facility in College Park, where bikers can lock their bike in a closed-off facility for a small fee instead of parking it at the free outdoor racks, a prime spot for bike theft. Because more bicyclists ride to the College Park station than any other station in the transit system, Metro Chief Spokesman Dan Stessel said, the city seemed like the ideal spot to pilot this program. If it is successful, the program may be expanded.
The Bike & Ride facility can hold 120 bikes and is located under the parking garage adjacent to the station. A patron interested in the program must register online and pay a $5 fee to obtain a BikeLink card, which he or she can swipe to access the room.
With ample lighting, swipe access and surveillance cameras, no bikes have been stolen from the College Park facility yet, Stessel said. But it’s hard to measure the program’s success when bikers don’t seem to be using it, said city Public Services Director Bob Ryan.
“We are asking the public to do everything they can to protect their property,” Ryan said, adding it’s been a challenge to get residents to test the facility.
Early in August, Metro Police officials came to the College Park station to distribute free locks for bikes and educate patrons about the program, Stessel said. But a significant number of bicyclists still lock their bikes at the outdoor stations.
Storing a bike in the facility does comes at a small fee of five cents an hour during peak hours — 8 a.m. to midnight — and two cents an hour for all other times, according to Stessel. The charge is supposed to offset the costs of the facility and swipes.
“When you think of the value of bikes, it’s a small investment and a prudent one for riders to consider,” Stessel said.
This summer, senior philosophy major Nico Orduz rode his bike to the Metro every day. He said would be interested in using the Bike & Ride facility in the future.
“I would definitely invest in my bike for safety,” Orduz said. “Five cents an hour is nothing.”
Senior staff writer Jenny Hottle contributed to this report.