I’ve always seen the promise of bike share. Ever since I first laid eyes on those beauties in Lyon, France, I thought that bike share would help transform Seattle into a place where biking is mainstream. Since then, I’ve collaborated in meetings with a host of Seattle-area partners — jurisdictions, businesses, academic institutions — who want to make it happen. We even got a small grant to start looking at which business model would make most sense. Bike Share is in countless European cities — and other cities like Montreal, Melborne, Denver, Minneapolis, are doing it, too.
It’s one thing to be a supporter, though. It’s another to have ridden.
I vowed in my last dispatch to ride down Pennsylvania Avenue’s new bike lanes on D.C.’s new Capital Bikeshare bikes. And after a dozen meetings with congresspeople and their aides today (and then a side trip for a beer and a super-late lunch), that’s exactly what I did.
Let me be honest: after a day of meetings and after the machine failed to spit out the code to unlock the bike from the dock, I had to call the customer service line. I had just come from an Irish pub. I did my best not to look like a tourist. I was desperate. But in 20 seconds, I was on my way. Five dollars a day for unlimited use. 1,100 bikes and 110 stations. I was soon speeding along with traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue heading toward the White House. I was grinning. I shifted into third.
I turned around and rode back to the same dock — a joyride that isn’t really what the system is for (or is it?) I had a reception to go to, so this was just a test ride. But after the reception, I had to head back to the hotel. A D.C. friend, formerly a nonprofit champion in Seattle, showed me his phone: “This is where all the stations are. There are four left just around the block. Oh, and here’s your destination. There’s a station a block away.” Bike share mobile app: a perfect tool.
I was off.
It was easy. It was fast. It was cheap. It was fun. I even bumped into our advocacy director David Hiller randomly along the way.
A supporter before, I’m a believer now. And with National Bike Summit complete and only the evening parties to attend, I’m hopping back on a Capital Bikeshare bike in three minutes, as soon as I finish this post. Really.