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What You Need to Know for Fall 2021: Getting Around a ‘Refilled’ Campus

Transportation Highlights Include New Parking Options, ‘Bike Concierge’

By Chris Carroll

Veoride e-scooters and bikes

E-scooters and bikes are vehicle-free options to zip across UMD, while road construction on Campus Drive (below) prepares for the light-rail Purple Line.

Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle

Goodbye to unimpeded commutes, near-empty campus streets and a bounty of open parking spaces, which all became a thing of the past this week as the University of Maryland revved back up to near-normal, with students streaming to in-person classes daily and faculty and staff re-inhabiting offices and labs.

Add a full slate of building and transportation projects under construction on and around campus, and, to quote a million football coaches: Keep your head on a swivel.

“Campus is going to be crowded—we’re going to have more pedestrians, bikes, e-scooters and cars on campus than we’ve had recently,” said Cara Fleck, DOTS assistant director for marketing and communications. “It’s going to be important to be alert when you’re moving around campus, and drive with great care.”

Here’s more of what’s new in getting around:

If traffic’s got you down, consider that millions nationwide daily scoot onto a bike path or cruise along the bike lane to avoid vehicle traffic. Bike commuting might seem impractical at first, but think again—or let Tom Worth, UMD’s newly designated “bike concierge,” help you think it through. Whether it’s coming to class or work or just cruising around the neighborhood, he can advise on equipment, help you find the shortest routes and provide tips about riding in traffic. He’ll even accompany you on your fledgling ride and show you the ropes of bike commuting.

“We just want to make it easier for people to use their bikes for mobility… sometimes getting that little initial assist is all it takes to set someone off on a whole new approach to bicycling,” said Worth, DOTS bike program assistant and a bicycle instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Contact him through this form.

DOTS has also introduced a “rainy day” incentive for bike commuters. Every 10 bike trips registered through the Smart Commute app, which is operational again this semester to promote sustainable commuting, earn cyclists a free one-day vehicle parking pass.

Visit DOTS’ BikeUMD and e-scooter page for more information, and to learn how to register your bike or e-scooter, which helps DOTS stay abreast of bike infrastructure needs and provides access to services like lock-cutting, in case you lose your key or forget your combination.

For faculty, annual and daily permits (available in five-packs for $60) carry over unchanged, but those who’ll be telecommuting some of the time have a new option to potentially save on some fees this fall: two- and three-day weekly permits, which offer 32 or 48 uses, respectively.

Purchasers will use faculty-staff overflow lots rather than primary lots assigned to their buildings; carpool and green vehicle permit discounts apply only to annual permits. And in a blast from the past, campus parking gates became operational again this week.

Visit DOTS’ parking page for more information.

All bus routes are operational, some with adjusted schedules. Masks are required on all Shuttle-UM buses this fall. In addition, NextBus app users have been receiving notifications that will transition to Umo Mobility for real-time arrival information this later this fall. A bonus: UMO includes trip-planning functionality that NextBus lacks. For now, NextBus is still the best app for receiving accurate real-time bus arrival information and service alerts.

Visit DOTS’ Shuttle-UM page for more information.

Baltimore Avenue Improvement Project
The sidewalk on the west (main campus) side of Baltimore Avenue remains closed on UMD property as the Maryland State Highway Administration improves Baltimore Avenue from College Avenue to University Boulevard (Route 193); enhancements include a planted median with turn lanes, accessible sidewalks, updated pedestrian lighting and bike lanes.

Construction on Campus Drive near Metro

College Park Metro Station and Bus Loop Closure
The College Park Metro Station is closed for platform maintenance until Sept. 6. Shuttles are available to transport riders to open stations. The bus loop at the Metro station remains closed for construction. Bus stops have been relocated to River Road and to the west entrance of the station near the intersection of Calvert Road and Columbia Avenue. Consult Shuttle-UM and WMATA route schedules for details.

Stadium Drive/Chemistry Lane
One lane of Stadium Drive will be closed periodically during the fall semester as the new chemistry building is constructed. The sidewalk on the south side of Stadium Drive will be closed through 2023. Chemistry Lane will also be closed for an extended period.

The following projects are related to construction of the light-rail Purple Line, which will connect the New Carrollton in Prince George’s County with Bethesda in Montgomery County, and features five planned stops on or around the UMD campus:

Campus Drive Underpass
Two lanes of Campus Drive remain closed at the WMATA Metro and CSX track underpass east of Baltimore Avenue. One lane remains open in each direction.

Presidential Drive
The portion of Presidential Drive closest to Campus Drive remains closed. To access Lots 1 and 3 during the closure, take Campus Drive to Mowatt Circle and navigate to Championship Lane.

Union Drive in Lots 1b and Z
A portion of Union Drive will close in Lots 1b and Z in mid-September. Please follow detour signs and allow extra time to navigate the area.

Rossborough Lane Closures
One lane west of Baltimore Avenue will close on or about Sept. 13 for approximately six weeks, with flagging traffic control. Rossborough Lane east of Baltimore Avenue will close on or about Sept. 13 for an as-yet undetermined period.

More information about the status of campus construction projects can be found on UMD’s construction projects map.

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