From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.
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.
- 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 only problem is that the smart-dock technology is outdated: http://inventropolis.com/bikeshares-technological-…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!
From John Shanno, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.
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.
From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @rookerysf.
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.
Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.
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.
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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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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
What might a sustainable community look like here in DC? You could begin by counting the number of Capital Bikeshare terminuses in a given area, or looking at the number of bike owners or bike lanes. The number of bus stops or proximity to Metro lines might also be good indicators. In a recent lecture hosted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, more than 50% of folks in the DC area want to live less than 0.5 miles to a Metro station.
Does the sustainable community I describe above sound familiar? I hope so.
For this reason, Borderstanis, bike enthusiasts and residents of our sustainable community, join Coalition for Smarter Growth and Young Rail-volutionaries on October 17 at 6 pm for the Rail-volution Film Fest, a collage of short films centered around the themes of transit and livable communities. A sell-out success from Rail-Volution 2010, the Filmfest will run for about an hour, featuring 5-minute films on sustainable communities around the country.
What have other communities done to embrace sustainable living? What does the world outside of programs like Capital Bikeshare look like? Where could/would programs like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Cycletracks find their home?
The Rail-volution Film Fest is one program of the four-day (October 16-19) Rail-volution Conference held in DC this year. Rail-volution is a national networking group based out of Portland, Oregon that is passionate about the impact of new professionals in creating livable communities and sharing a vision to create places that are more equitable, sustainable and vibrant. Interested in other transit-related events as part of Rail-volution? Click here.
As residents of a vibrant and developing community, I encourage you to check out the Rail-volution Film Fest. Healthful and sustainable living have become more important than ever, and we should be asking ourselves a few questions:
- First, how do we continue to “develop” communities like 17th Street NW and Dupont Circle without creating new spaces? In other words, how do we make what we have better?
- Second, how can we contribute to areas that continue to develop, like Logan Circle and U Street NW? As businesses and apartment buildings continue to move into 14th Street NW, what’s the best way to get people from one destination to the next? Can the current bus lines meet the population influx?
Admission to the Film Festival is $25 and includes one free drink covered at the Big Hunt following the Festival. Proceeds will go to the Coalition for Smarter Growth (Follow them on Twitter @betterdcregion) for transit and sustainable communities.
- Who: Hosted by Coalition for Smarter Growth and Rail-volution
- What: Rail-volution 2011 FilmFest
- When: Monday, October 17, 2011 at 6 pm, followed by happy hour at the Big Hunt
- Where: Carnegie Institution for Science, 1530 P Street NW
- How much: Tickets are $25 and RSVPs are required
It’s the end of September already. How did that happen? For me in my day job, it means end of the month invoicing. So let’s check in on the state of the District for their monthly ‘activity report’. If you disagree with the grade, rationale or the final invoice, feel free to tell me in the comments. All agreements are considered paid in full, anything else may be subject to an upcharge.
DC Economic Health, By the Numbers
Grade: Above Average. Rationale: While every Gallup poll will show that people think the country is on the wrong path and the economy is in the toilet, recent numbers on the state of DC may indicate our little bubble is intact. The Washington Business Journal has found that some real estate is returning to pre-recession levels. Median housing prices in some parts of the area (DC, and parts of Arlington and Alexandria) are back up to the boomtime, eye-popping listing and closing figures of 2005. And our unemployment number is holding steady at 6.1% for the area and dropped .4% in DC proper. I know that’s not great news, or a surge, especially since DC’s number is one of the higher percentages in the nation (also the WBJ). But in a time of so little optimism, I’m going with no news is good news.
DC Economic Health, By the Businesses
Grade: Needs Improvement. Rationale: While the idea that a rising tide will lift all boats (see: Reaganomics), it seems the 14th Street NW corridor is a case study in what a higher tide of rent means to established at sea level businesses. The evidence is in the shuttering of businesses that helped create the growing community — 1409 Playbill Cafe (from us), PULP (DCist), go mama go (14th and You). While not all of the closures (and there are more beyond that short list) are rent-related, the majority of them are, according to their owners. If you get motivated to do something about it (at least about the building edifices), check out this awesome read on the DC Preservation League and what to expect with gentrification, growth and changes from the Washington City Paper.
DC Food and Beverage on 14th Street
Grade: Delicious. Rationale: Estadio has been open a year now to mostly rave reviews on 14th Street NW. We Love DC went back to check things out and found some yummy scallops, shrimp and wine. The success of small plates continues on the strip of street, with Cork Wine Bar as one of the original purveyors of tiny bites. But fans should be aware that Washington Post is reporting their head chef is departing. Cork has new chefs in contention already, so the bites and sips should continue with little disruption.
DC Interaction with Businesses
Grade: Needs Improvement. Rationale: Exhibit A is unfortunately the Lincoln Theatre. DCist reports that without a $500,000 infusion of cash from the city government, the Lincoln may close this year. Apparently, it costs $60,000 to run a month and they have $50,000 cash on hand. Mayor Gray has said the model is not sustainable and has, according to theatre supporters, been less than available to discuss the state of the Theatre. There are not a lot of scheduled shows there, which seems to be a cause of the cash shortage as well (at least to our untrained in theatre economics eye).
Services and Start Ups in DC
Grade: Kicking some serious butt. Rationale: Regardless of how you feel about bicyclists on your daily commute, it is difficult to argue the success of Capital Bikeshare. In one year, they have expanded service, had over one million rides and have over 1,110 bikes on hand in various areas. This is a great public/private partnership example and we hope to see more of these models emerge and thrive in the future. To celebrate or to check out the ‘hood while this current iteration still exists, check out their Vintage Shopping itinerary on The Washington Post.
17th Street Festival on Saturday
Be there or be square! It’s a free community event, running from 2 to 6 pm. Come check out your area businesses, non-profits and blogs (hint, hint). Visit the pet zone or kid zone to see dogs, people who think their dogs are babies and the kid-friendly attractions. When all the excitement has worn you down, calm your nerves with a beer in JR.’s beer garden (admission to the festival is free, the garden costs $5 and goes to the festival). If you need any other reasons, the Washington Blade does a bang-up job of explaining the importance of building a sense of community in the area, and we’d say that even if they didn’t give us a shout out.
14th and You on Hiatus?
Speaking of the importance of community, we are sad to see the bloggers at 14th and You take a break. How long seems to be up in the air, but they will need a new name. Apparently, the lack of updates are due to their move… to the SUBURBS! Kidding, we won’t hate much on the MoCo move, but we will miss you oodles.
Someone Prefers Arlington to the City
So, in this Bloomberg BusinessWeek list, Arlington was ranked as the second best city. They were ranked on college degree percentages, economic income, crime rates, parks, bars, restaurants and museums, among other things. DC came in at number six, ranking behind Raleigh, Irvine, Scottsdale and Honolulu. While we can understand the Hawaii preference, the others are a bit… interesting. The Washington Business Journal has the story. Arlington has a bad rap, DC has Wale — this hardly seems fair, even if we did lose points for our crime rate.
Well, Bike Beatings May Be Why
Our crime rate is high due to things like irate drives beating up cyclists, among other things. But this item is about a bizarre beating that occurred after a driver veered into a bike lane and hit a cyclist. The driver decided the cyclist was at fault and then beat up the guy he had just hit. The burbs sounding good right about now? Well, the driver was brought up on charges and sentenced today, reports the Washington City Paper. It was pretty light, as it was his first offense, but it’s at least some justice (refraining from Troy Davis comment here).
Or Stolen Puppies?
This story just makes me incredibly sad. Apparently, a dog owner with a recently adopted rescue dog entered a Safeway to buy treats for the dog and left it outside. When the owner returned, the dog was gone. See the poster and post at Prince of Petworth and keep an eye for the puppy. And, as Borderstan’s Tori notes, this is why it is not safe to leave dogs tied up outside of your line of sight.
I Want to Ride My Bicycle
We’ll end on a more positive note. Capital Bikeshare happily announced their one millionth ride on their first anniversary! Congratulations to a great organization that seems to be wildly popular. Their press release is pretty neat — they note the time and location, as well as user, of the ride that put them at an even million. So stay safe in your bike lanes, don’t use your bike to steal puppies and ride it on down to the 17th Street Festival. Are you not cheered or entertained? Well, Freddy Mercury can help you out here.
From Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster.
Celebrate the end of July with Tequila!
And lots of it, courtesy of El Centro D.F.’s newly announced bottomless tequila brunch. For those of you that just relived every bad Sunday morning from your college years, chill out. It’s truly bottomless – food and drinks for $35. That does include their Micheladas, Bloody Maria and agua frescas, made with the aforementioned tequila. Thanks to GalTime for picking this one up for us.
But How Will We Get Down There?
Reports say that escalators at Dupont Circle (and Foggy Bottom for that matter — remember February’s collapse?) are soon to be going under for maintenance. According toWJLA, we’ll be without the escalator(s) for a year. The Washington Post mentions that we’re actually talking about the three escalators at the South entrance on the Circle. Despite the speculation, Metro has yet to indicate their exact plans, including when the repairs will begin. Expect them “soon.”
Who Cares About Public Transportation Anyway?
Don’t let Metro escalators get you down! Pretty soon, you might be able to pay significantly less to drive around town and park in crowded areas. Jack Evans, the Ward 2 Council representative (and yes, that’s our Ward) wants to go back on a controversial rate change to re-establish the price of parking from a few years back. Not only did Evans propose charging $1 per hour instead of the current $2, but he also wants to stop enforcing meters at 6:30 pm, three-and-a-half hours before they stop ticking now. The Examiner has the full scoop on this one.