|Capital Bikeshare station along Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness-UDC metro stop.|
Washingtonians and Arlington residents tired of traffic or metro delays have another option for traveling around the city: Capital Bikeshare.
In 2008, the District became the first jurisdiction in North America to launch a bike-sharing program -- but it was limited to 120 bikes at 10 stations downtown. This year, the District and Arlington County, Virginia partnered to launch an expanded bike-sharing system, with 1,100 bikes and 114 stations. And, this last month, Capital Bikeshare added a station along Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness-UDC metro stop.
"The [Van Ness] location is ideal," says Chris Holben with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), "there's close proximity to commercial buildings, housing, schools, and the metro. Density is a factor in determining a station's location. Ideally, we'll have stations every four to five blocks downtown, and we want to have stations in all of the Wards as well as near all of the universities."
The Capital Bikeshare station near the Van Ness metro aims to serve students, faculty and staff at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) as well as residents commuting to work downtown.
"It's awesome," says District resident Jane Daly, "The best aspect of bike-sharing for me is that it is noncommittal. I can ride a bike to the office, but I don't have to worry about it if I want to go out with friends after work and then later need to catch a bus or the metro or take a taxi or walk home, depending upon what makes the most sense. I don't feel tethered to my bike."
Ms. Daly has only one problem with the system: sometimes there are no bikes at the station closest to her residence and too many bikes at the station nearby her office. Mr. Holbern says DDOT is aware of the situation and is working with a contractor to redistribute bikes during the day. Even so, Ms. Daly says it's a minor complaint and uses the Spotcyle app on her mobile phone when she finds it necessary to identify alternate stations closest to her.
"I'm still learning bike etiquette," Ms. Daly says, "but there's really a camaraderie developing among the riders. The other day, a fellow rider waved at me. It's really becoming a phenomenon."
Riders can join Capital Bikeshare for a day, a month or a year. The current membership fee is $75 per year, but individuals can join for $50 if they do so before October 31. Members pay no fee for the first 30 minutes of a trip, but rates apply to each additional 30-minute period thereafter. You can find more information about how the program works, pricing and frequently asked questions on the Capital Bikeshare website.