The question of whether or not to fork over the reasonable introductory price of $50 for D.C.’s new bike sharing service, Capital Bikeshare, which will be similar to BIXI in Montreal, is a tough one for someone who doesn’t work downtown. That annual membership price will allow you to use a bike for 30 minutes at a time before returning it to a station. After 30 minutes are up, you start getting hit with some fees, which can get pretty hefty. There are also day and month memberships, but basically the service is for quick trips that might replace short Metro rides and drives or long walks.
To avoid fees you really have to plan your trip well because the 100-plus station scope of the project, which is still much bigger than Smartbike’s 10 stations, does not reach many areas of the city or suburbs. When you work in the suburbs (believe me, I’m trying not to) and your friends live in uptown D.C. or Maryland, this bike commuting service looks increasingly useless.
But I WANT it to be useful, and it will be, even for someone who can’t bike directly to their destination. Though I live extremely close to a Metro, there are many who have a 20-minute walk to a station. But if they live near a Capital Bikeshare station, all of a sudden the Metro is much closer. Or, for people who live near the center of town, it may be quicker to bike to a different line, rather than transfer. Someone who lives near Lincoln Park, a significant walk to any station, all of a sudden has quick trips to all three Blue/Orange stations in the vicinity and Union Station. I sincerely hope real estate agents don’t realize this. I can see it now: Minutes from everywhere!
Some say there aren’t enough stations downtown, but downtown appears saturated in a city where relatively few people live in the center city. The goal is to get people on bikes, right? Why does it matter if they are going to a job or not? Connecting neighborhoods is an equally important goal, and I hope the next phase of stations addresses is this.
I still haven’t made up my mind if the system will work for me. I am a bike proponent and my living situation makes it difficult to keep a cycle, so Capital Bikeshare appeals to me. But how useful is something that lacks stations at almost all my frequent destinations? Maybe if we move to a quieter part of the Hill (and further from the Metro) the equation changes.
This is a situation where I would put out a question to my readers to see what they think. However, I have no readers, and there is nothing more embarrassing than those questions going unanswered. So you won’t be getting the satisfaction of seeing 0 comments under a question post from me.