The Washington Post has a lengthy article today about the District's bike program and the success it's been having.
According to census data, the number of Washington residents who commute to work by bicycle has nearly doubled to 2.2 percent over the past 10 years. Official hourly "bike counts" conducted by the Transportation Department suggest much of that growth has occurred since 2007. An average of 72 bicycles now pass 18 designated counting stations during an average "peak hour."
Jordan said that mini-bicycle backups are becoming the norm during the morning rush hour on routes such as 14th Street NW.
Many outdoor bike racks downtown are at capacity during the day, a scenario that replays itself at night at racks near some popular bars in Northwest. And officials say they are stunned by the immediate popularity of Capital Bikeshare, a network of 1,100 communal red bicycles scattered around the District and Arlington for residents and tourists.
The story runs with the usual theme that the reason Fenty and Williams supported biking was because they're both avid cyclist, when the more likely reason is the one I emphasized below.
With Williams and Fenty both avid cyclists - the former mayor recreationally and the current one competitively - the District has undertaken one of the most ambitious efforts in the country to promote the use of bicycles.
Fenty, a triathlete who can peddle 40 kilometers, which is about 25 miles, in little more than a hour, aggressively moved to implement the plan, believing it was a key linchpin in his effort to make the District a "world-class city." Similar to his drive to build turf athletic fields for students and $500,000 dog parks, Fenty tested transportation officials ability to build top-flight bicycle amenities.
It's a bit lazy to say that Fenty supports bike facilities because he rides a bike. He also walks and runs, but that is never mentioned when discussing pedestrian improvements. He drives most of the time, but that isn't mentioned. Does he have a dog? Is that why he supports dog parks? Never mentioned.
Anyway, there is more about the recent history of DDOT and biking, including the bike plan, bike lanes, the Bike Station and Capital Bikeshare; and how that is getting the "Interested but Concerned" onto bikes in DC
The bike lanes convinced Liz Casey and Mary Kirby, both 23, to test their luck Saturday at biking from U Street to the Mall, the first time either had ridden in the city.
"I've lived here four years, and I think the city is petrifying to bike in, so I am pretty scared," said Casey, who moved to District from Pittsburgh. "But we heard 15th Street had a bike lane, so we are going to use that.
On Capital Bikeshare Gabe Klein makes a strong statement for the program and there is a lot of good news.
Jim Sebastian, director of the Transportation Department's Bicycle and Pedestrian program, said the system has 4,700 annual members, a number growing by "30 to 40 a day."
Officials had estimated 6,800 members by the end of August, prompting them to begin plans to expand the program in the coming months.
"It's absolutely plausible to have 10,000 bikes in 10 years," Klein said.
It ends with the theory that supporting bike facilities may have cost Fenty the election (which I personally don't subscribe to) as well as a quote from George R. Clark, chairman of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. He claims that because "In some places where (the bike-sharing stations) ended up, the first anyone found out about it was when they were put there," that this is a sign of poor communication by DDOT.
I don't doubt that people didn't know, but that isn't necessarily a sign of bad communication. One of my neighbors was unaware that the Old Naval Hospital was being remodeled even though it has been ongoing for several months now and the building is only a few blocks away. People get busy and not everyone cares that much about these things. But DDOT certainly tried to make the locations known, while not wating time. After the announcement of bike sharing in the spring, they held a contest to name the system, asked residents to suggest locations, and announced the planned locations a couple of months before it opened. They even went to some ANC meetings.
Did they really need to canvas every house to let them know that a bikeshare station would be a few blocks away? There has been very little protest about the locations. What would a resident do if they knew a station was forthcoming? In only two cases that I know of did anyone even oppose them. What has a resident lost by having one installed without being personally informed? They can moved in a few hours.
Because Capital Bikeshare is such a wild success, the Committee of 100 has to find something else to criticize, and the fallback position of those with no valid criticism is process. But that Capital Bikeshare was a failure because they didn't preadvertise the locations well enough is not a criticism anyone else shares.
"I now can get around anywhere without a car," Vale said after he dropped off a bike at the Dupont Circle docking station. "This is what makes D.C. great."