COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — Columbia officials say they want to study whether bike-sharing can help ease traffic.

The Columbia Association and Howard County have asked for a state grant to study short-term bicycle rentals.

Jane Dembner, director of community planning for the Columbia Association, told The Baltimore Sun that bike sharing would make sense for short trips in areas where there is a lot of activity. Advocates say bike sharing would provide a cheaper alternative to cars and promote fitness in addition to easing traffic congestion.

Washington has a successful bike-sharing program and Baltimore is looking to start a program as well. In Denver, city officials say their year-old program has substantially cut the number of downtown car trips.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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