I made a decision to rent a bike on my first day of class in Maryland because I can’t stand walking 30 minutes to class in the middle of Maryland heat – and never looked back since. In this post, I’ll cover general information for people who are interested at cycling at UMD College Park.
How much and how did I get my bike?
Since I’m only here for one semester, I don’t want to buy a new bike so I rent one instead. Thankfully UMD provides a bike rental, where I paid $75 for one semester including bicycle and a D-lock. I paid extra 20 bucks for the helmet and another 20 for the bike light, which I think is highly justifiable. Helmet is not a requirement in Maryland if you are 16 years above, but bike light is a requirement in Maryland state if you are cycling after dark or before dusk. Still, I would strongly recommend everyone to get a helmet. I’ll explain why in a minute.
Why should I even care to buy a helmet when it’s not a requirement? I have cycled for years and I never need one.
1) UMD is a very hilly place – so many people get accidents because of its hilly-ness. Once you add inclination, you add the risk as well. For example, if one day your balance just messed up, on a flat road you probably just fall down there. If it’s an inclined place you might slide down before you hit the road, probably adding more injury. Also, many people get accident from going down on a steep road and not hitting the brake fast enough when they need to.
2) There are so many cars and the roads get really busy especially on the main roads like Baltimore Avenue. Some cars are not very kind and they get very close to cyclists, which can be really scary.
Bottom line: Please don’t save $20 and sacrifice your life. It will be worth it. No one knows when accidents strike.
(This is the part when it’s not as steep. When it’s very steep, I can’t stop to take picture!)
Note: this picture is taken safely, I stopped on the pavement to take picture.
I’m not sure if my skill is enough to bike there since you say it’s so steep?
I didn’t really cycle on the road for 5 years before now, but I used to cycle on the road daily. I would say you need to be able to cycle, turn left and right, stop and cycle with one hand (when giving signs to other road users) to be able to cycle. Not too advanced, but experienced enough that you can safely bike considering the amount of traffic and the inclination.I would strongly recommend that you can comfortably cycle before cycling on the road because it’s quite different.
How easy is it to bike around?
Other than the steep roads, I would say it’s relatively easy as many people cyclist on campus, bike parks are everywhere and the road is good enough for cyclists. At night it can be dark, but as I mentioned before bike light is a state requirement so you need to get them anyway.
What’s the option to get a bike?
1) Buy one, which I think is around $200-$300, even though I don’t know the specification.
2) Rent one from the university, which cost $75 for a semester, $10 for a day or $30 for a week. Find more information here: http://recwell.umd.edu/Adventure-Program/RecWell-Bike-Shop .
3) Rent from Zagster bike rental. You pay a membership and then you can use the bike. However, I don’t like this option because you can only use the bike for 1 hour then you need to return it to the station. If you use more than 1 hour then there is a fee that you need to pay (which for me defeats the purpose of actually renting a bike, because I want to cycle from home to campus). Find more information here: http://bike.zagster.com/mbike/.
I wrote about specific tips on cycling on campus on my blog! Find them here: http://www.agondosari.com/index.php/2016/09/12/specific-tips-umd-cycling/ . It’s about hints you can’t find anywhere else – which road to avoid, which road is busy and which road is so steep you don’t want to ride there.