Monday, September 20, 2010

Capital Bikeshare launch

The Capital Bikeshare system launched today with an event at Tingey Plaza. I volunteered, along with hundreds of other folks, to ride a Capital Bikeshare bicycle to a bike station. So much fun!

At the ungodly hour of 9am, I blearily contemplated how I was going to travel to the event. Normally I would just ride my trusty bicycle to the event and back. However since this event involved riding a separate bicycle once I arrived to Tingey Plaza to a bike station at 5th and K St. NW, this presented a bit of a conundrum. I would have had to find a way back to Tingey Plaza once I docked the bike at the station at 5th and K St. NW.  Hmmm....if only there were some sort of bicycle borrowing system that I could use to get from point A to point B without worrying about....oh wait. Right.

In the end, I decided to park Betty at the DCUSA Mall parking garage (it's good for something, at least), hop on the metro to Navy Yard and walk a short bit to the Plaza.

I was greeted by 200 shiny red bikes!

There were a few times they got accidentally knocked over like dominoes...

There was a lot of standing around, waiting and picture taking. I met quite a few interesting folks. Unfortunately I've already forgotten most of their names, ha! Everyone was geeking about bikes though.

After the press event (Eleanor Norton Holmes, Fenty and other illustrious folks spoke at length about the present/future of cycling in DC), it was time to roll out. I found my trusty steed...

Mine was special, just like everyone else's...

After a few minutes of seat height adjusting, we were a wobbly start. And why does my butt hurt? I will say that these bikes do not have the most comfortable saddle. The seat post can be adjusted, but not the angle. And that led to some interesting sensations of slipping off of it at times. The bike rides pretty well. It's an upright bike, and it has 3 speeds (just like Betty).  Lights are already installed, and it has a basket w/ bungee cords in the front. It's not a bike you would want to take out for a leisurely ride around the monuments. It isn't that comfortable (besides, that's what Bike and Roll is for!). But if you want to get to an appointment without having to hail a cab, wait for a bus, or walk 15 blocks from the nearest metro station, this system will come in handy. It's designed for quick trips, not sight-seeing.

After a nice ride along the Penn Ave bike lanes, my group (go 11!) arrived at 5th and K to dock our bikes at the station. Docking proved simple. Just push the front tire of the bike into the docking station until the light turns green. Done!  A very anti-climatic end to a big event. 

5th and K St. NW bikestation

I was planning on hopping on the metro at Mt. Vernon and taking it back up to Columbia Heights to pick up Betty, but then I figured I might as well give the bike sharing system a try. I could ride up to the station at 14th and Park and that would put me right at DCUSA Mall. I inserted my bikeshare key (which I had already activated) and watched the little light go (GREEN!). Time to go!

20 minutes later I arrived at the bikeshare station in front of The Giant on Park Rd. NW. I even managed to beat the group of riders that were assigned to ride to that station (but only by a minute). Even though the bike only has 3 speeds, it was plenty to get me up the hills, albeit very slowly. Then again, I'm used to riding a 3 speed upright cruiser bike. I docked my bike at the station, went across the street to Sticky Fingers and grabbed lunch, then walked over to the parking garage and picked up Betty to ride home.

All in all, a very fun morning! I definitely see myself using this system in the future.

(I don't know why my camera filmed in that weird format)

Sign up for a discounted membership at the Capital Bikeshare website today! And don't forget to download the app that lets you know how many bikes are available at each station, in real time!

Is anyone doing the 50 States ride on Saturday? I can't wait!

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