Sunday, August 1, 2010

Capital Bikeshare Bringing New Bike Stations to Logan and Shaw

The District is ready to move forward with plans to significantly upgrade its fledgling bike sharing program, and mid-city neighborhoods stand to benefit significantly.

Beginning this fall, the District will roll out the expanded program, now called Capital Bikeshare, which will replace the existing SmartBike program. SmartBike is currently a joint venture between the District and Clear Channel. As you may recall, last year the city announced plans to greatly expand the SmarkBike program, only to have Clear Channel express a less-than-enthusiastic reception. Seems that the 10 station/120 bike program was sufficient enough for them, thanks very much. But it wasn't for District transportation officials, who very much wanted to expand the program so that it mimicked programs in cities such as Paris, whose program features hundreds of stations and thousands of bikes (as well as significant amounts of theft and vandalism).

Undeterred, the District sought out a partner, and found one in Alta Bike Share, a Portland, Oregon-based firm that works with jurisdictions here and abroad to set up bike sharing programs. They recently launched a 600 bike program in Melbourne, Australia. And this fall, they will be implementing the expanded version of DC's program, which will feature 1100 bikes and 114 stations throughout the District and Arlington.

Predictably, most of the new stations are centered around the District's core, with the largest number of stations existing in the area bounded by the Mall, 25th Street, Florida Avenue and North Capitol. However, stations will be located in farther afield neighborhoods in all quadrants of the city, including Tenleytown, Petworth and 16th Street Heights in NW, Brookland and Deanwood in NE, and Fort Dupont and Barry Farms in SE, among others. Nearly 15 stations will also be located in Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington, with plans to expand into the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor as well.

Logan and Shaw both stand to benefit significantly from increased stations throughout the neighborhoods. Currently, the are is served by SmartBike stations at 14th and Rhode Island, 7th and T streets, and U and 14th Streets. To these existing stations, Capital Bike Share plans to add stations at 15th and P, 14th and R, 10th and U, 16th and U, 7th and M (Convention Center) and 13th and M. (See area map below for all neighborhood locations.)

According to a message I received this weekend, existing SmartBike users will be able to use Capital BikeShare at no additional cost through April 2011, at which time they must apply for Capital BikeShare membership. The Capital BikeShare membership registration will be available, according to DDOT, sometime this month.

As someone who has pined for the District to continue focusing on alternative methods of intercity transit, particularly with the likelihood of further Metro expansion likely placing somewhere between a Nationals World Series trophy and a Leo Alexander mayoral term, it's truly wonderful to see the city investing so heavily in such a program. With this program and DC's focus on the installation of bike lanes across many major corridors, and development requirements that mandate the placement of bike rails near the new development (and don't forget the recently opened Union Station Bike Center), DC is well on its way to becoming one of the country's most bike-friendly cities--and the more people who can be coaxed off of our traffic-clogged roads (and, increasingly, rider-clogged Metro)--the better off we'll all be in the long run.

One final brief transit note, for those who may have missed it: the infamous "Blue Bus" will soon be no more. Last week, the District announced what many had anticipated for some time: the Circulator will replace the Georgetown Metro Connection on its existing Dupont-Rosslyn route, which passes through Georgetown along the way. This move makes perfect sense, and will provide a roomier and, hopefully, more reliable form of transit into Georgetown. The K Street Circulator line had already replaced the Metro Connection on one route, from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop to Rosslyn. Additional information can be found at the Circulator's website.

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