Friday, December 31, 2010

Cruising Around D.C. with Capital Bikeshare

To make up for another year with no hope for a raise, my employer gave us an additional paid day off to celebrate the New Year. Since I had no plans, I decided to tour around Washington D.C. on the new shared bicycle system operated by Capital Bikeshare.

The new system includes over 1,100 bikes parked at 110 docking stations around D.C. and Arlington. I found the system to be very simple to use, and very similar to the Denver B-Cycle network in Denver, CO. (read my post about that ride)

Like Denver B-Cycle, a 24-hour day pass can be purchased for $5. Rides less than 30 minutes are free. So the challenge is to pay attention to the clock and to reach another docking station before your 30 minutes expires and your credit card is charged a small fee. It's actually pretty fun, and I used the free Spotcycle iPhone app to find more bike racks. Once I reached a station I simply pushed the bike into the rack until it clicked and the green light let me know it was safe to walk away. Then I'd slide my credit card in the machine, take my printed code, and punch it into the bike rack to rent a bike for another half-hour.

Capital Bikeshare's docking stations were located near all the must-see sights in D.C., and in places that probably serve commuters and locals. The three-speed bikes are nice and stable and the gears shift easily. I was able to hit cruising speed from a dead stop without standing up to pedal. The seat posts adjust to fit all lengths of legs, too.

During the course of the day, I rode six different bikes and saw D.C. neighborhoods I probably wouldn't have visited on foot. Ironically, I borrowed my first bike at the L'Enfant station, which is directly across the street from the Department of Transportation. Because it was cold and early, the streets were empty and the dirt track around the Mall was my own personal racetrack until the museums opened. I saw a scrap of the Hindenburg in the Smithsonian Castle, saw the outstretched arms of the Titanic Memorial along the Anacostia River Walk, stopped by Nationals Park, saw the Trapeze School of New York's odd bubble building in the old Navy Yards, explored the Eastern Market and Old Capitol neighborhoods, feasted on some killer pizza at Matchbox with my wife, and tore through Chinatown like a kid on his first Christmas bike.

If you're visiting D.C., or just looking to do something fun and different, I highly recommend seeing the city with Capital Bikeshare.


  1. That looks like a great service. They didn't have that when I lived there from "99-'01. Took a look at Milk's art per your suggestion. Isn't it fun to reconnect with old friends?

  2. JRS- The bikes are great. I see people riding them around all the time, so the service seems popular with the locals. I wonder if Philly will ever implement something similar?
    Milk's "art" cracks me up! He creates those doodles on his phone and sends them over.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I love riding the by-cycle very much. Some time I ride it. But my most favorite is longboards riding & I have a Atom Longboard .