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Hyattsville is a prime candidate for Capital Bikeshare

Last week, I argued that that Capital Bikeshare can and should be as integral DC's suburbs as it has become to the city. One suburb well-suited for such a transformation is the city of Hyattsville.

Hyattsville. Photo by Mr T in DC on Flickr.

Much of this Prince George's County city of about 17,500 is highly conducive to biking already. It boasts quiet streets with slow traffic, bike paths and parks, and numerous destinations at convenient biking distances from residents and transit stations.

West Hyattsville already has the highest bicycle mode share of any Metro station. It is a prime candidate to become a bike sharing hub.

2 Metro stations and a MARC (Camden Line) station serve Hyattsville. Unfortunately, none of these stations serve the core downtown area along Route 1 near EYA's Hyattsville Arts District development. It and three other shopping centers have a healthy mix of retail and residential, but the Metro, MARC, and several bus lines do not converge at any one of them.

College Park Metro, a few miles north, is such a hub. Unfortunately, it is surrounded by spread-out office parks and low-density residential. If bike sharing existed throughout Hyattsville, it would enable travelers to reach all major destinations in the city from any mode of mass transit without neccessitating a transfer up in College Park.

Though potential exists to create a highly bike-friendly environment across Hyattsville, infrastructure improvements would be neccessary along the axes connecting West Hyattsville, Prince George's Plaza, Riverdale Park, and the Hyattsville Arts District. A simple fix would be to add bike lanes or a cycle track to Queens Chapel Road, which was restriped a few years ago from a four six-lane road to a two four-lane one.

Making this a bike corridor would directly connect West Hyattsville to Prince George's Plaza and Riverdale Park. This, along with bike lanes along Route 1, Jefferson Street, and Queensbury/Belcrest Road would form a bicycle network that would connect all major destinations within the city.

Certainly the transit stations would be top candidates for Capital Bikeshare station locations if the system were to come to Hyattsville. Prince George's Plaza and West Hyattsville Metro stations are obvious, but Riverdale MARC and a future Purple Line station in nearby Riverdale Park are also prime contenders.

CaBi stations at University Town Center, the Arts District, the Mall at Prince George's, and shops along major roads would grant transit users convenient access to retail. Civic institutions such as schools, the District Courthouse, and major parks could also host stations. Fill in the gaps with stations in in the heart of residential areas, and a bike share network in Hyattsville might look a little something like this:

Click for an interactive version.

By virtue of the city's permeable street grid layout, the excess roadway on Queens Chapel Road, and its multiple transit, shopping, residential, and other destinations, Hyattsville might be the best place in the DC area to set up a suburban bike sharing network. Assuming Capital Bikeshare expansion within the District brings the system up Rhode Island Avenue towards Mount Rainier, this system could help link the entire Route 1 corridor together while reducing congestion along this well-traveled route.

Dave Murphy is a Geographic Analyst for the Department of Defense and a US Army veteran. He is also a part time bouncer. He was born in Foggy Bottom and is a lifelong resident of the DC area. He currently resides in the Eckington neighborhood of Northeast. 


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"Hyattsville might be the best place in the DC area to set up a suburban bike sharing network"

You mean, besides Arlington, which came up with the concept?

Otherwise all good points. But what are your projections of usage?

by charlie on Oct 13, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

As a native of Hyattsville, I think this is a great idea!

by Paul C on Oct 13, 2011 1:17 pm • linkreport

As someone who moved out of that part of the county (University Park) a few months ago, a few notes.

1) The Queens Chapel shoulders have been marked as bike lanes. They're still shoulders, and on the weekends, people are allowed to park in them, but that probably should be mentioned.

2) It's weird to see a bike map of Hyattsville without the bike trails. They're not perfect, but they provide fairly good north-south coverage. Once the Trolley Trail expansion goes through, it should give some nice connections to College Park.

3) Connections to DC along the Anacostia could also be nice.

by Jon on Oct 13, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport


Arlington isn't "suburban" (not most of it anyway).

Hyattsville actually has a slightly higher pop. density than Arlington (8,100/sq.mi. vs 8,000/sq.mi.), but the former is still a "suburban" town.

by King Terrapin on Oct 13, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

Queens Chapel is striped in places, but from the Hyattsville city line to the District, there is very little to no shoulder for bikers, despite the road being designated by MD as a bike route. Bikes would be much better served by extending bike lanes on Queens Chapel Rd. from Hyattsville to its intersection with Michigan St. than potentially riding on Rhode Island to DC city limits.

In any case, bike share stations at the metro stops in Hyattsville and College Park, at UTC, UMD, and the Arts District would be great additions.

by Ed on Oct 13, 2011 2:00 pm • linkreport

disagree vociferously. the density of housing doesn't exist to support bikeshare. People who use bikes at west hyattsville probably travel to the station at distances greater than those typically taken by bikeshare bikes. Rebalancing problems would be immense.

wrt your ideas, I would strongly consider reading the station typology in the wmata bike and ped plan and casting that typology in terms of bikeshare, and/or the Montgomery County heat map.

by Richard Layman on Oct 13, 2011 2:34 pm • linkreport

it would be interesting to do a MoCo heat map equivalent of the Rte. 1 corridor in PG County. I don't think it would color the same way that Rockville Pike does...

by Richard Layman on Oct 13, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

Well, perhaps that concern about density is why Mr. Murphy placed most of his proposed CaBi stations around the Metro stations, apartments near said stations, and the commercial/multifamily Baltimore Ave corridor.

It might be interesting to look at usage statistics from, say, Minneapolis to see what the minimum residential density is to support bikeshare. I suspect it's a bit higher than the minimum for bus service. Why walk two blocks to a bicycle when there's probably one in your single-family house's garage or basement?

by Payton on Oct 13, 2011 5:52 pm • linkreport

payton (if you are the payton I think you are, "westnorth"), send me an email please ( Need to talk to you about something. Thanks.

by Richard Layman on Oct 13, 2011 6:28 pm • linkreport

oh, but wrt your comment, the issue is docks at the final destination. the issue isn't having the docks at the transit station, it's where they are on the other end.

Bike "transit" still needs a concentrated set of destinations to focus the network and to work (it's why the distributed bike ideas like the "Social Bike" don't make sense to me) cost effectively, because the idea isn't to have 2 trips/day/bike, basically giving a bike to someone for $75/year, when it costs $2000 to support.

by Richard Layman on Oct 13, 2011 6:30 pm • linkreport

@Payton: "It might be interesting to look at usage statistics from, say, Minneapolis"

With 116 stations covering 34 sq. mi, Minneapolis/St. Paul is a but more dense than Capital Bikeshare. 

Peak usage for the past seven days has been on the order of 5-50% of the fleet, much lower than CaBi's 20-45%; and among systems with 25 or more docks higher only than Brisbane (chronic low usage commonly believed to be linked to restrictive helmet laws) and Guadalajara (semi-automated system with restricted hours of service). 

But look on the bright side: dockblocking is such a non-issue that stations are infested with parasites.

image: @mplsbikelove

by cabi addict on Oct 13, 2011 8:21 pm • linkreport

uh, make that 5-10% of the fleet for MSP peak usage.

*ducks out to remove egg from face*

by cabi addict on Oct 13, 2011 8:23 pm • linkreport

I would disagree with King Terrapin regarding Hyattsville being 'suburban' - both Hyattsville and some of the corridors in Arlington County were classic streetcar suburbs. They're quite dense - because of the historic development that was streetcar oriented and also because some of the newer parts of the city (not the wealthier, whiter Old Hyattsville) are also immigrant-heavy and often multigenerational households that are more likely to use transit or bike. Couple that with the progressive vibe of that entire corridor (MtR to Hyattsville), and you have a lot of choice transit riders and bikers as well. Arlington outside of Wilson Blvd, the Crystal-Pentagon City corridor, and Columbia Pike isn't that dense, although the aforementioned corridors are very dense.

I'm not sure what Richard is talking about when he says the density isn't there. The urban form may be a mix of streetcar suburban, but the population desnity is high. Hyattsville has a population density of 6,885.9/sq mi. Neighboring Mount Rainier has a population density of 13,038.46/sq mi, Brentwood has 7,511.0/sq mi, North Brentwood has 4,450.9/sq mi. Also - to Richard's assertion to the bikeshed is farther than typical bikeshare trips - I bike to that station (West Hyattsville) every day and the vast majority of those bikers come from Mount Rainier, Brentwood and Hyattsville (often choice bikers that are saving on the expensive parking or just like biking), or more low-income bikers from the very large apartment complex surrounding the WH station. One isn't likely to bike there from a longer distance due to other major stations (PG Plaza and Fort Totten) within a very close distance.

by Jarrett on Oct 14, 2011 2:23 pm • linkreport

What is the deal with these bike shares? Are they not profitable? They must make money eventually and if that is the case what is the issue with putting bike shares all over the place? I'm in Hyattsville and a bike share would kill here, without a doubt. If you put a station at EYA and one at each metro they can not put enough bikes there.

by Jim G on Oct 14, 2011 8:37 pm • linkreport

Bikeshare might work well for commuters near the northern Green line metro stations. Wouldn't have extensive networks like in DC/Arlinton, but would design for 1-3 mile trips between metro stations, certain office complexes, certain residential complexes. College Park to and from parts of campus, office areas. Greenbelt, from Franklin Park apartments, Capitol Office Park, Old Greenbelt. Rebalancing would be a huge issue. Add a minimum charge pay for the extra rebalancing.

by Greenbelt on Oct 17, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

Just put it there. Then people can use them and spread the word. Just DO IT!

by dr on Oct 21, 2011 12:20 pm • linkreport

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