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Tag Archive | "Capital BikeShare"

Totalitarian Plot or Just a Bike Share Program?

From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.


DC’s Capital Bikeshare program. (Luis Gomez Photos)

DC has fallen in love with Capital Bikeshare (although not everyone in DC loves bikes,  bikers or bike lanes). The system has grown in numbers of bikes, stations and users ever since its opening. It has made parts of our city more accessible and helped many Washingtonians get into better shape.

However, in New York City the story might seem different with the opening of Citi Bike, at least according some detractors. New York’s bike sharing plan might even be a totalitarian plot!

Dorothy Rabinowitz, of Wall Street Journal Editorial Board fame, has criticized New York City’s bike share infrastructure plan in a video, which can only be characterized as an indignant rant, complaining that the bikes and ostensibly the people who ride them, are mucking up the scenery for her and her friends.

Apparently, “we now look at a city whose best neighborhoods are absolutely, you know, begrimed, is the word… by these blazing blue Citibank bikes, in all the finest, most picturesque parts of the city.”

She says, “the majority of citizens are appalled by what has happened,” and, “the bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise.”

How all-powerful you may ask? Let’s ‘hit the streets’ to find out! Here are comments that accompanied a New York magazine article.

  • Just how powerful is the bike lobby? So powerful that you’ve never heard of it.
  • WSJ thinks that the bike lobby is all-powerful, but oil companies, arms manufacturers and Goldman Sachs are just victims.
  • “The majority of citizens are appalled by what has happened.” a line often used by someone who is part of a definite minority.
  • Truly disturbing interview by Dorothy Rabinowitz. Even the WSJ interviewer inserted a reality check by mentioning that no pedestrians have been killed by NYC cyclists in the past 4 years, yet there have been nearly 600 deaths of cyclists and pedestrians by cars. Dorothy didn’t pause for a split second before starting her rant.
  • Love the curmudgeons. If Ms. Rabinowitz looked at one bike, she would see the Rules of biking right on the handlebars. Those poor taxicabs don’t stand a chance against a bike – better watch out.

As is often the case with these kind of stories, the fun is in the comment sections, but some serious and thoughtful comments were posted on NYC websites and on YouTube.

  • bikeshare is great. an urban game changer. only problem is that the smart-dock technology is outdated: http://inventropolis.com/bikeshares-technological-…
  • How come no one has noticed that the citibike app continually posts the wrong information about the bikes available at the bike stations? The number of bikes that are supposedly available is off by double or triple the number of bikes — right now E45 and 3rd is supposed to have 4 bikes and it has 13. I just passed 3 stations in Midtown East and all were way off.
  • @driverseven – Use Spotcycle app – it’s 10,000 times better. Plus it has all the OTHER cities with bike share.

In a growing city of 8.3 million people, according to an NPR piece on March 13, apparently there is only one disgruntled voice so far to complain about NYC’s new bike-share system.

Even at this early stage of New York City’s bike-share program, that statistic must surely qualify it as a resounding success.

Hats off to New York City, hats off!

Helmets “on” though, riders!

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Bikeshare: A Healthier Option for Individuals, Society

From John Shanno, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.


Bike for  better health. (Luis Gomez Photos)

We all want to feel healthier, and many people these days ‘want to do their part’ to lower their personal carbon footprint. One way to do both at the same time is to ride a bike whenever you can. It is obviously a good thing to do.

But when you are traveling, it can be difficult to lug your bike around just so that you can take a daily, hour-long ride in Naples, Barcelona, Miami, or other warm and sunny place.

Rapid Growth of Bike Sharing Systems

You may be surprised to know just how many bikes are available for rent at low cost, or are completely free to use, from the so-called Bicycle Sharing Systems (BSS) in many of the world’s cities. The total number of bikes available from these various systems around the world at the end of 2011, was 236,000 bicycles.

That’s right, from five European-only operations with less than 100 bicycles 10 years ago — to more than 375 BSS worldwide, with 236,000 bikes in almost every country as of the end of 2011. BSS is a textbook definition of high growth!

According to Wikipedia, the Hangzhou Public Bicycle program, which was launched in 2008 in China, is the largest bicycle sharing system in the world, with around 61,000 bicycles and more than 2,400 stations. The Vélib in Paris, which encompasses 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 bicycle stations is the largest outside of China. Other countries with similar systems are Spain (100-plus), Italy (80), and Germany (50).

There are many compelling reasons to have a bike-sharing operation in your city or town. If you drive part way to work in the city, many cities have convenient and low cost parking areas for your car which is where you pick up a bike. Done with your bike? Just pull out your smartphone, it will display a drop-off point close to you.

Does your city have a bike-sharing program or low cost bike-rentals? If it doesn’t, ask why not.

CitiBike Coming to New York

Solar powered bike-docking stations are popping up across New York City in preparation for the launch of the United States’ largest bike-sharing program, CitiBike. The initial roll-out of the program will include 300 stations and 5,500 bikes. A few years ago, the city’s department of transportation (otherwise known as NYC DOT) started replacing single-space parking meters with bike parking. Now, many more parking spaces will be converted into CitiBike hubs, according to Meribeth Deen, EnergyBoom.com.

Cities such as Washington, DC can’t install bike stations fast enough to keep up with the demand — even with their time-weighted pricing schedule. The DC program has been called a victim of it’s own success.

Advantages to Society

From a government perspective, having healthier citizens will help to lower total health infrastructure expenditures and overall health care costs, while cleaner air and less traffic congestion in downtown or tourist areas can improve access, lower infrastructure costs and improve the visitor experience — meaning visitors might stay longer and spend more money

For daily commuters or for tourists from outside the immediate area, adding the option of affordable bikes, means lower gasoline and parking costs. It adds convenience, health and enjoyment to their visit

So, the next time you are planning to run errands downtown all day (and trying to find parking spots) or if you are enjoying a weekend at the beach, ask yourself; Would my life be more enjoyable and would I spend less money on parking fees and gasoline, if I simply rented a bike?

Of course it would. Enjoy getting that extra sunshine! It will do you a world of good.

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Where Are My Crayons? Do I Have to Share?

From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @rookerysf.


Where are “MY” crayons? (Luis Gomez Photos)

I graduated from kindergarten about 25 years ago, yet I still struggle with its central lesson: sharing.

Back in the day, I looked around at the runny-nosed kids mashing together different play-dough colors, breaking the crayons in half and leaving the caps off the glue sticks. “Ownership…” my five-year-old brain thought, “means having all of the crayons.” And thus a little capitalist was born.

A quarter century later, and my way of thinking is showing signs of age. Today, the mark of a savvy city-dweller isn’t how much they own, but how much they can get away with not owning. It’s no longer a virtue to own a car you only use on weekends, or camping equipment you only use once a year.

There’s certainly a lot of sharing going on in DC. We have the best bike sharing system in the country, and are one of the top 5 cities for car sharing. You can share office space, kitchen space, tools with your neighbor – pretty much anything you can think of you can borrow or rent from someone else in DC. As The Atlantic recently put it, collective ownership is “less a fleeting fad and more an essential piece of how we’ll live in an increasingly dense, urbanized world.”

It’s been hard for me to wrap my head around, which is especially embarrassing because my husband actually works for a peer-to-peer car sharing company. As he talks about trust, community-building and cost-savings, I am secretly thinking to myself “Wait, is someone going to be touching my stuff?”

Is there hope for people like me? The truth is, I want to be the kind of person who likes to share. I agree that it uses resources more efficiently, is more economical and provides an opportunity to meet new people, many of whom have probably evolved from their play-dough mashing days.

I am trying to take baby steps. Recently we rented a neighbor’s car for a few hours, and the whole time I felt oddly transgressive, as if I had borrowed it without asking. “They are really just giving us their car? We could be weirdos!” I said. “But we’re not,” answered my husband. But we could be, I thought.

We have also signed on to DogVacay, a website that matches people who need dog sitters with others willing to host – sort of the “Airbnb for dogs.” Our first hosting experience, for a shar-pei mix named Howard Zinn, was similar to babysitting for a stranger’s child for five days, and about as much fun. (Howard wasn’t so much into being a member of the sharing economy as he was into drooling and chewing on socks.) It did pay almost $200, though. So mixed success.

But I am going to persevere. While I think that in many cases “sharing” is a misnomer for this new trend (many of the services are really “renting” or “paying someone to do something for you,” which is slightly different), in small doses it might even be good for me. As long as I can still keep my own crayons.

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Thursday’s Photo: “Bikeshare”


“Bikeshare” is by psinderbrand from the Borderstan Flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, “Bikeshare” was taken by psinderbrand on June 16 at a Capital Bikeshare station in DC.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

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Capital Bikeshare: Socialist Nightmare or Communal Bike Heaven?


Seeing RED. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

As one dear reader has commented, please do not let the title deceive you — I do not have the answer to this either/or question. There’s a good reason for that, though, which has little to do with my daily grind of a job and wine consumption. It’s because it is all in the eye of the beholder. This piece in the Washington Times argues that if you live by a Bikeshare station, it may be loud and noisy.

If you are a commuter leaving a less-traveled area and heading for a busy downtown locale, your docking station may be full. I believe the writer may also have an issue with the color or shape of the bikes, but alas, upon re-reading it’s a simple ad hom. So, does the fact that Capital Bikeshare has expanded (with taxpayer dollars) to be well-ridden, yet require the bikes put away by a dirty truck mean it is a failed Leninist experiment? If the only evidence you have is crowded docking stations and thugs stealing bikes, well, my friend, I think we have answered the question posed previously. (And do be sure to read the critique of the column on DCist by Martin Austermuhle.)

It also gives one a delightful South Park reference, but if you are judging the ‘girly’ red bikes, you may already have succumbed to the cloud of smug.

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Bike to Work Day Draws Record Numbers


Friday's Bike to Work Day brought out a record number of riders last Friday. (Luis Gomez Photos).

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

If you noticed more bikers out and about last Friday morning, the cause may have been more than just the beautiful spring weather.

The Washington Examiner notes that Friday marked annual Bike to Work Day, and DC officials estimate that 12,700 people participated. This number sets a new record for the event, with twice as many riders as it had five years ago.

“The dramatic growth of this event is an indicator that area commuters view bicycling as a viable commute alternative that can fit into their daily routine,” said Nicholas Ramfos, of sponsor Commuter Connections (do you think he actually talks like that?).

The popularity of biking in the District should come as no surprise to our readers, who have seen use of Capital Bikeshare surge in the two years since its launch. According to TBD.com, Capital Bikeshare has logged a grand total of two million total trips to date.

As long as they stay off the sidewalks, bike away!

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Update on Biker Injured in Tuesday’s U Street Accident

biker, truck, accident, Feb. 28, U, Street, Luis, Gomez, Photos

The bike-truck accident occurred Tuesday at 11th and U Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Dcist has an update on the status of the biker who was hit by a trailer truck on Tuesday at 11th and U Streets NW.

According to DCist, “Shawn Streiff, the cyclist who was hit by a truck while riding a Capital Bikeshare bike near 11th and U Streets NW, remains in the hospital after the Wednesday morning accident. He also faces three tickets in the wake of the crash, one for running a red light and another for not wearing a helmet.”

The DCist story includes a comprehensive picture of the tragedy with information about Streiff. The story also has information on how to make donations to help Streiff with his recovery.

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Bike-Trailer Truck Accident at 11th and U Streets NW

"Borderstan" "U Street NW"

Truck-biker accident at 11th and U Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Luis Gomez. Catch his photos at One Photograph A Day. Follow him on Twitter @LuisGomezPhotos.

We still do not have any Police report on this incident. But seems like a man riding a Capital BikeShare was hit by a truck  at 11th and U Streets NW. The biker was taken to a hospital while police were still on site.

According to NBC Channel 4 on Tuesday, “The bicyclist, a 29-year-old Northwest man, is in stable condition, News4’s Pat Collins reported. He was charged with failure to yield right of way and a red light violation.”

Channel 9 and Channel 4 have more details.

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DC Top City for Biking,Walking Investments (But Drivers Still Bad)

DC infrastructure

DC ranks among top U.S. cities in terms of our bicycle and pedestrian programs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie@borderstan.com or on Twitter @maggiebarron.

As far as transportation goes, DC often gets a bad rap. Sure, we have the country’s worst drivers, and we may be approaching “metrogeddon” with the 8-month closure of the Dupont Circle southern escalators.

But there’s good news. We also rank among the top U.S. cities in terms of our bicycle and pedestrian programs, according to a study out this week from the Alliance for Biking & Walking.

Of the 51 largest U.S. cities, the District boasts the highest per-capita funding for cycle and pedestrian facilities and education. The report, Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report, says DC spends approximately $9.82 per resident to promote biking and walking. Nationwide, states spent on average just $2.17.

Not surprisingly, the report identified a virtuous cycle of infrastructure investment, improved safety and increased bike and pedestrian commuting. Among those 51 cities, DC also had:

  • the second highest share of commuters who walk to work (after Boston).
  • the seventh highest share of commuters who bike to work.
  • the second lowest rate of car ownership (after New York).
  • The sixth lowest rate of bike/ped fatalities.

In a press release, Mayor Vincent Gray celebrated the news:

I have made it clear I want the District of Columbia to be the most sustainable, walkable city in the nation. It’s great to see where we stand among our peers and that we are making real progress toward that goal.

This report gave me quite a bit to think about. We often hear about drivers acting aggressively towards bikers, or of problems with pedestrians and cars. Getting around in DC is far from perfect, but think about how much worse it must be in other cities. If we are sixth in bike/ped safety (and I still can’t get a car to stop for me at the crosswalk at 14th Street and Wallach Place NW), then what’s it like in Fort Worth, Texas, which ranks 51, or Phoenix (#48) or even San Diego (#23)?

Another thing I found particularly interesting in the data was that the share of commuters biking and walking seemed to have nothing to do with the weather. The number one state for biking and walking was Alaska! Number two was Vermont. Eight of the 10 top states have snow on the ground pretty much all the time, while states like Florida and Texas ranked dismally. So as I bundle up to walk to work tomorrow, at least I’ll have my pride to keep me warm.

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Bikers: Maybe They Are Mostly White Gentrifiers?

Capital BikeShare

Capital Bikeshare station at 15th and P NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at michellel@borderstan.com.

Don’t get mad at me, I’m just reporting what TBD found when they analyzed Capital Bikeshare‘s demographic data. The data indicates most Bikeshare cyclists have no helmets, are mostly white and are in their mid-30s. If you take that and compare it to a Washington City Paper piece that evaluated if there was truth beyond the stereotype, you may see an archetype emerge.

Then again, the majority of rental cyclists are women, which doesn’t match up with the perceived gender gap. So while there may be something to the idea that all Bikeshare-ers are of Courtland Milloy’s “myopic little twit” category, it’s far from an accurate portrayal of the cyclist population.

Cheers to Capital Bikeshare for their amazing numbers, and to enduring political correctness.

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