Bikeshare: In a Word, Awesome
I took a wonderful mid-week trip to Washington, D.C. last week and had the opportunity to try out D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare program. And may I just say, I am a HUGE advocate for it in Philadelphia. It's great! Allow me to share my experience with you.
I arrived in D.C. with the intention of checking out a few Smithsonian Museums in my free time until I saw quite a few people bustling around the city in those shiny apple red bicycles. My plans immediately changed, the museum was put on hold, and I knew I had to get on this bikeshare. Using the program is simple enough, although you must have a credit card in order to participate (they need a way to charge you, just in case). After you enter some information about yourself, you get a code, enter that code into the bike of your choice, and you're off! The bicycles are all step-through styles, have adjustable seats and handlebars, three gears, and are already equipped with blinking lights. It's pretty sweet. They also have an area in the front where you can drop a bag too, very thoughful design.
Capital Bikeshare also recommends you download the 'Spotcycle' app, which shows you the locations and availability of all the locations across D.C., and also provides a map of the bicycle lanes. This was perfect for a first-time user like me. I was off! I pretty much stuck to the area around the National Mall, but I did get a chance to bike to the White House and take in all its splendor. Also in D.C., they have contraflow bike lanes, where bikes rode both with and against traffic in a protected area. I'll admit that did throw me off a little bit, and I found myself biking in the street with motor vehicles instead of using the contraflow lane. My fault, motorists! But drivers were incredibly aware and must have known I was from out of town, and they passed me calmly without one blow of their car horns.
The cool thing about the Capital Bikeshare program is the first 30 minutes of use are free! Of course I did not heed the 30 minute free-ness and ended up being out for an hour or so with the bike. Still it was only a $9 investment, well worth my time and money. All in all, the bikeshare experience was wonderful and one I will certainly use again when I visit D.C. I hope you take the time to check out bikeshare, or perhaps use it when it arrives in Philadelphia hopefully in the near future!
For more information on Capital Bikeshare, visit: http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/