Well, today was SmartBike's debut and it certainly got a lot of coverage. The Post ran an article featuring photos of former WABA Executive Director Ellen Jones. Not much new to report beyond "it starts today"
District officials tried to find a way to equip the bikes with locks, so they could be parked safely outside of a rack. But for now, riders have to provide their own locks.
About half of the fleet, about 60 bikes, is available for rental, Sebastian said. Although only seven kiosks were up and running during a test period last week, he said he expected that all 10 would be ready for use today.
About 150 memberships have been sold so far, Sebastian said.
At the end was this
Jones, transportation director for the Downtown Business Improvement District, walked to the rack at 14th and H streets NW, but it wasn't working. She ended up taking the bus to U Street.
Wah-wan...I've heard at least one other bad report
Went to rent my first SmartBike this afternoon at Foggy Bottom, but the user-interface screen said the site is closed. Called the 800 number listed and the customer service agent agreed that the facility is closed. At least one other site (Metro Center) is also closed and has been since at least yesterday, the agent reports. She said the site should re-open “in a couple of days.”
But y'know, Hubble had a pretty rough start too (that's how we think about these things down at NASA).
Meanwhile Harry Jaffe of the Examiner warns potential customers that they could be entering a war zone.
Has the city prepared bikers and drivers for the kind of confrontations that have led to warfare in other cities?
“I don’t see that happening here,” Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, told me when I asked about the coming conflict. WABA offers classes for schools and adults on bike safety. He worries that cyclists won’t signal or be seen; he fears that drivers won’t respect the rights of cyclists to share the road.
And he did relate the story of the cyclist who was hit by a driver who took a right turn into him on Independence Avenue recently. The police followed the biker to the hospital and gave him a ticket for riding on the sidewalk.
“We’re meeting with the police Friday to talk about enforcement,” he said.
Harry Jaffe, national editor of the Washingtonian magazine, often writes for Rails-to-Trails magazine and was featured in this month's issue. The interview is not online, but you can see his photo on the graphic here (at least for now you can).
There was a ceremony at the Reeves Center today. I couldn't make it but it appears Fenty - injuries and all - got on one for a photo op.
Update: GetThere has something on it too.
Mayor Adrian Fenty formally launched the program today, next to the SmartBike rack at the Reeves Center at U and 14th streets NW.
The bike's design, with its low bar and well-protected chain, should allow just about any office worker to cruise the city in comfort before returning the bike to any of the stations with a spare slot. There's a basket with a Bungee cord in front of the handle bars, which come equipped with a bell.
Buchser, who is used to urban biking, said the transition from her own bike to the SmartBike design felt comfortable and safe. She noted that the SmartBike's distinctive design and red-and-white markings made it stand out, getting the attention of drivers and pedestrians as she rode across town. That's good for safety, she said.
Photo by TrishsWishs