In Capital’s sparse station areas, no one feeling need to Bikeshare


Greater Greater Washington, the blog of all D.C. area urbanist blogs, has been writing about the new Capital Bikeshare extensively. The latest issue: The kerfuffle over the Lincoln Park station’s installation, which has been blocked. Quite the scene at a recent meeting, described by TBD:

In the hallway immediately after the meeting, Steve got in an argument with a man named Tom over the bike station. Steve told Tom, a more formidable-looking man, to “go &@$%” himself. Tom, in an act that his wife later said was totally uncharacteristic, got in Steve’s face and shoved him. Then Tom’s wife started crying inconsolably.

It’s an important debate. Well, maybe not THAT important. But the public, and those who will or may use the service in the future, need to have a stake in station placement. And what with the swears and shoves, they certainly seem to.

But we can already analyze the current service right here, on an amazing real-time map showing which stations are being used and how many bikes are currently in service.  Much can be learned about ridership patterns already.

A big concern pointed out by Yonah Freemark, a national transit writer,  is station density. In D.C., we don’t have it yet. There remains the possibility of a federal grant that would double the bike fleet Station’s in North Arlington and bigger presences in Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights and other dense neighborhoods would conceivably be the focus. But there is also the chance that we are stuck with the initial stations for awhile.

Stations in SE. From oobrien.com.

Stations in SE. From oobrien.com.

Nowhere is the station density more of an issue than in wards 7 and 8, located east of the Anacostia. With the exception of downtown and Cap Hill, the bikeshare stations are now pretty much in place; In those two wards, 9 of the 10 planned stations are operating. That’s a pretty huge area for only a handful of stations. So how are they doing as of 2 p.m. on Tuesday?

Nannie Hellen Burruoughs & Minnesota Ave NE: No usage in past 24 hours.

Minnesota Ave. Metro: A couple bikes were taken on Monday. On Tuesday morning a bunch of bikes were put back at the station by the bike reshuffler. You can tell bikes have been shifted this way if a station receives or loses a bunch of bikes at once. If people are using them to commute, they won’t be removing them simultaneously.

Benning Branch Library: No usage in past 24 hours.

Randle Circle & Minnesota Ave NE: Had a few bikes shuffled away.

Penn. Ave at Minn. Ave SE: Had a few bikes shuffled away.

Good Hope & Naylor Road SE: No usage in past 24 hours.

Anacostia Library: No usage in past 24 hours.

1800 MLK SE: No usage in past 24 hours.

Anacostia Metro: No usage in past 24 hours.

Bikes and bike lanes will eventually be successful in the eastern parts of the city. But critics were right: Throwing a political bone to all parts of the city in the form of spare bikeshare stations was a mistake.

The Good Hope & Naylor Road SE station is closer to the Maryland border than another bikeshare station. What would the envisioned use of a bike be from there right now?

Now that we have stations in all eight wards, here’s hoping the Department of Transportation will use what we have learned from the existing stations’ usage to plan for future stations by coordinating multiple stations in each neighborhood. That’s the only way anyone is going to use this stuff.

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4 Responses to In Capital’s sparse station areas, no one feeling need to Bikeshare

  1. carsonata says:

    What’s the story with the bikes in these stations? They look durable and substantial, but are they easy to ride in DC? And when you get to your destination, do you have to leave the bike at another station which may or may not be close to where you are going?

    • B-Money says:

      From the Bikeshare site:

      The Capital Bikeshare bikes are easy to use and ride. They have 3 speeds, internal hub gears, fenders, a chain guard, lights, and a front rack.

      I haven’t ridden the bikes yet…thereby destroying my credibility in writing about them, but I think it’s such an interesting idea that I can’t help it.

      From reading other people’s remarks, they seem heavy and sturdy, not made for going much faster than say, 15 mph.

      • carsonata says:

        Seems as if DC is flat enough for a bike like that. I saw a station near my hotel during a recent visit to DC and I must say, I was intrigued. I may give it a try on my next visit to town.

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