Category Archives: Capital Bikeshare

D.C. Commute Scenes: Capital Bikeshare and True Love

The throngs of tourists combined with the rising temps make mornings the best time to ride in the city these days.

This morning Felkerino and I were en route to coffee and passed by the Lincoln Memorial. It always surprises me how serene the Lincoln is in the early-ish morning. It’s a much different place than the populated tourist spot it becomes in the afternoon.

As we rode, we saw a few tourists and this lovely site.

Lincoln Memorial, Capital Bikeshare, and true love

It was touching to see this romantic couple posing for pictures. However, I still thought the Capital Bikeshare bike silently stole center stage.

Capital Bikeshare and that special moment

What a beautiful morning commute.

Spring Blossoms and Capital Bikeshare Tourists

Spring again. Another year of roadies on Hains Point, tour buses, high school classes on the National Mall, and wait!

What’s that? Something’s different this year.

This spring also features Capital Bikeshare tourists. I saw this group as I rode by the Jefferson Memorial on Ohio Drive ealier this week. What a great way to tour the city!

I came upon another group in the 15th Street bike lane, heading toward the White House, but I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about them. They were riding about 8 miles per hour, and I was running late for work. Hurry up, tourists!

However, I much prefer the Washington, D.C., visitors when they traverse on foot or by bike as opposed to tour buses (where they hopelessly clog up the sidewalks) or cars.

You can cover so much more ground by bike than by foot. CaBi allows riders to rent a bike for $5 for one day or $15 for five days of use. Because riders still have to pay any hourly fees they incur after the initial 30-minutes of riding, I recommend tourists study the Bikeshare map before getting on their bikes.

Due to so many of the sites being located on National Park Service land sans Bikeshare stations, there’s an art to planning a D.C. day tour that allows you to easily pick up and drop off a bike.

It’s fun to pedal around town, but you may want to go into a museum or check out something that requries walking. You don’t want to leave the CaBi bike unsecured. Plus, you know how those hourly charges add up.

People will figure it out, though, just like the guys in this photo are doing. Go tourists, go! Welcome to Washington, D.C. Thanks for using Bikeshare!

Capital Bikeshare Checklist

Capital Bikeshare

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a big fan of Capital Bikeshare. It’s a great way to travel around town. Bike riding outdoors in the city on a bike you don’t have to clean or maintain. I love it!

In their January newsletter, Capital Bikeshare featured a “Winter Ride Checklist.” The checklist included the following items:

  • Gloves;
  • Wind-resistant jacket;
  • Hat that fits under your helmet;
  • Dress in layers and use clothing with zippers for venting; and
  • Be aware of ice and other slippery spots.

I think this list is a good start, but there are a couple of additions that I would make to prepare for a Bikeshare ride.

1. Bikes get wet sitting out in the elements. A dusting of snow or an afternoon of rain means a wet bike for you when you go to retrieve your CaBi Bike. Nobody I know wants to ride on a wet saddle.

Solution?

  • Carry a plastic bag with a rag in it. That way, you can wipe off the saddle and any other wet parts (like the handlebars). When you finish, throw the rag into your plastic bag so it doesn’t get anything else you’re carrying wet.

2. Even though Bikeshare bikes come with a generator hub for the headlight and rear brake lights, I like to have an extra bit of illumination. I’ve noticed that the CaBi headlights are also not that bright. They are designed more with the idea of being seen by drivers than they are for seeing the road.

In addition, many drivers are just not aware of cyclists (regardless of the time of day). The darkness makes me even less sure about their awareness of me. The brighter I am, the better I feel about being on the road.

Solution?

  • Carry an extra safety light to attach to your bag. I use a running light that easily clips onto my bag. It’s nice and bright.
  • Wear a reflective vest or sash. Yes, I know it’s nerdy, but you really do show up better to others on the road. It’s nerdy and safe :).
  • If you really want additional front illumination, attach a helmet light. This is on my to-do list. I got the idea from seeing another CaBi commuter using one. LED helmet lights are fairly inexpensive and some of them cast quite a strong light. Yes, this one is also nerdy, but a helmet light enhances your ability to see the road and to be seen by other drivers. It’s ok to be nerdy and visible! Really, it is!

CaBi transportation is great because CaBi maintains the bikes and carrying around tools or a patch kit is unnecessary. My CaBi experience is made even better when I make sure to carry a few extra CaBi-specific items. Is there anything else you use to prep for your CaBi commute? I’d love to know about it!

CaBi Riders

DAR Constitution Hall, Robert Plant, and Capital Bikeshare

Tonight was so much fun! First, Felkerino and I saw Robert Plant and the Band of Joy (including two of my favorites, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller) at DAR Constitution Hall!

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy

I thought the night couldn’t get any better, but I was wrong! Two blocks from DAR Constitution Hall is a Capital Bikeshare station. I found it via the Spotcycle application for Droid! Rather than wait for a cab or slog home on the Metro, Felkerino and I rode the Bikeshare home.

This was Felkerino’s first trip on Bikeshare! Because he does not have an annual membership, he paid $5 for a 24-hour membership. That’s still cheaper than a cab and comparable to the cost both of us riding Metro home. The CaBi ride was much less rigamarole than taking the train, as the nearest Metro station to DAR is several blocks away, our Metro ride would have required us to transfer to another line, and off-peak hours on Metro mean infrequent trains.

The temps were mild and the city quiet. It was raining, but nothing intolerable. Felkerino did a fine job maneuvering the lumbering three-speed machine. Twenty-five minutes after the show ended, we were home! So efficient!

CaBi by the Monument

A Quiet Rainy Evening on Capital Bikeshare

Robert Plant, Band of Joy, an evening with Felkerino, and Capital Bikeshare. Life is good!

Inclement Winter Days and Capital Bikeshare

When I looked out the window this morning, it didn’t look like a good day for bike commuting. Cloudy sky. Slush and snow on the sidewalks. I resigned myself to taking the Metro.

A gloomy morning in the city

En route to my station, however, I noticed that the roads were wet but clear, the rain/sleet/snow was not falling too furiously, and the temperature was mild. What did it all mean? Bikeshare!

Capital Bikeshare!

Lucky for me, a CaBi station is adjacent the Metro closest to me. I bypassed Metro and walked up to one of the bikes. I took out a rag to wipe down the damp saddle, put my key in to make sure the bike was in service, pulled out “my” bike, and rode away to the office.

My “real” bikes stayed clean and warm at home. As for me, the CaBi mudguards and chain protector kept my feet and clothes free from any water and road grit spraying up from the wheels. The sleet did sting my face a little, but it was still preferable to a Metro ride.

Another Bikeshare panda portrait

Snow began falling in earnest later in the day. Rather than deal with the congested streets and uncertain road conditions, I left Bikeshare for another day and enjoyed a snowy walk home.

I love Capital Bikeshare!

Capital Bikeshare Makes Life Better

Winter CaBi Bikeshare Panda

In my efforts to avoid Metro and breathe in the fresh Washington, D.C., air as much as possible, I’ve started riding Capital Bikeshare more frequently. Bikeshare is awesome! I just run over to the station nearest me, plug in my key to get a bike, yank the bike out as hard as I can, and off I go. All rides 30 minutes or less are included in my $75 annual membership.

Now, riding a Bikeshare bike is not an overly cool riding experience. These bikes are no Rivendells, ok? They have no real pep, and feel like bikes a child just graduated from training wheels might ride. A Capital Bikeshare steed is a lumbering three-speed beast that toddles along steadily with me atop it until I get to wherever I’m going. The wide foam saddle fits awkwardly below me, making me long for my Brooks saddle.

There is a lot that makes CaBi tranportation cool, though. The bikes are well-maintained and get me where I’m going. They have a nice spot in front where I can secure my bag so no hauling stuff on my back. Fenders and a mighty chainguard protect my clothes from debris.

With CaBi stations near my home and my office, I can make a spontaneous decision to hop on a bike and head off somewhere not directly along a Metro line, but easily within reach of a CaBi station. I can turn a 45-minute walk into a 15-minute ride. Today, I decided not to risk pedaling in because I didn’t know the road conditions. This afternoon, though, I used CaBi for my trip to the grocery store. I then rode another one home. So convenient.

Riding CaBi is also liberating to me in an unexpected way. When I’m riding one of my other bikes, I like to have a certain look. I admit it! (Some of you might be able to relate to this. Your own personal look, not mine!) I feel like I should look a little competent. No crooked helment. Color coordinated. Lots of wool base layers and Ibex. Sidi’s. Enough bike-specific gear to look like I know what I’m doing. Something to keep my pantleg from being eaten up by the chainring.

When I’m on CaBi, that stuff doesn’t matter one bit. Today, I wore a long wool coat, big blue hat, wool pants, and Danskos. No need for SPDs or my Sidi’s. CaBis have flat pedals! Cycling apparel on a CaBi bike? Why? Nothing I wore on my commute was bike-specific, except for my helmet.

CaBi riding attire

The other liberating aspect of riding CaBi is that nobody puts any expectations on me about my bike riding. Crooked helmet? Ten miles an hour? Work clothes instead of cycling-specific attire? Who cares! I’m on a CaBi bike. I just got my training wheels taken off!

Capital Bikeshare. Crazy Dreams Coming True.

CaBi. Good news for the city.

If anyone had ever told me that one day in the future I would be able to walk around Washington, D.C., with a special key, pass by racks of bikes peppered throughout the city, insert my special key, and ride off with a bike underneath me I would have said “No way! That’s just a crazy dream.”

But sometimes crazy dreams do come true. Capital Bikeshare is proof of that.

I joined Capital Bike Share (CaBi) two months ago for a $50 annual fee. (Now memberships are up to $75, but that’s still a deal for a year of bike riding.) At first, I wasn’t sure why I was joining, given that I have a pretty decent bike stable at home that I can ride for free. I did it more out of a desire to support bike riding in the city.

CaBi Station

One rainy ride into the office made me see CaBi membership as an excellent commute alternative to my personal bike. Why dirty up my own steed when I can ride CaBi? They’ll clean the bike for me.

AND check out these amazing fenders and chainguards. Minimal worries about splatter, thanks to these babies!

CaBi Fenders

CaBi Chainguard

CaBi is not only good for rainy rides, I discovered. It’s great for any short trip. After paying my annual membership, all rides up to thirty minutes cost me nothing. If my trip is one hour or less, I pay $1.50, which is easily comparable to Metro. And since I do not like to pick Metro as my first transportation mode of choice, CaBi is an excellent alternative.

I live near a Metro stop with a CaBi station and work downtown in an area where we now have three CaBi zones. It’s awesome. (I can’t move and my office can never relocate. Ha!) The only hitches are if:

  1. The CaBi station on the departure end is empty. So far, that hasn’t happened, although the bike supply has run low.
  2. The CaBi station on the destiniation end is full. That did happen to me once, but just as I went to park a CaBi service van pulled two bikes for service, and left me with a space. If that hadn’t happened, however, I would have had to resort to pedaling off to another station, farther away from my destination, to see if they had any spots. While a manageable inconvenience, it would have still been a bummer.

CaBi bikes are step-through steel frames with tires that must measure in at two inches. You can roll over pretty much anything with those puppies. The internal hub has three gears spaced out enough to get a rider up a hill comfortably as well as over flat terrain without spinning out.

Worried about riding in the dark? Not to worry! CaBi bikes also have lights. The front light works better as a “be-seen” light as opposed to a “seeing the road” lumination, but in the farily well-lit streets of the city, that is not an issue. The two brake lights are excellent, and make a rider easily visible.

CaBi Panda

Saddle height is adjustable to accomodate tall and short riders alike. Handlebar height or reach is not adjustable, but these bikes are designed for short trips, not long-distance excursions. It’s convenience over comfort. There is also a space in the front for a purse or bag, and a little bungee cord is also attached to secure these items.

These bikes even come with kickstands. And bells. Unfortunately,

  1. I was not smart enough to figure out how to make the bells work,
  2. CaBi bike bells are not very loud, or
  3. all the CaBi bikes I’ve ridden have defective bells.

I could not make the bell do much more than a teeny little “deeeeing.” It was quite sad. Fortunately for me, my pipes are strong so the bell is not critical. (But I would still like to know how it works.)

What about helmets? I am a fan of helmets. Of course, no CaBi bike comes with a helmet, but I now try to carry one around with me so that if I do decide to take a CaBi bicycle out for a ride, I’ve got a little protection for my noggin.

Another CaBi Panda. Have to use hands on this one!

With CaBi, I don’t have to worry about looking for a parking spot for my own bike or leaving my bike locked up outside in the elements. Just park and go at a CaBi station (unless they are full. See above!).

CaBi has been an exciting addition to my commuting arsenal. It’s an amazing feeling to walk around Washington, D.C., with a key that unlocks bikes in places all over the city.

Sometimes crazy dreams can come true in this crazy capital city. Thanks, CaBi.