Recently the Donald was in town to unveil his planned redesign for the Old Post Office Pavilion. One part of this is of particular interest to cyclists
For the crumbling and vacant rear annex, part of a failed redevelopment attempt in the 1980s, the Trumps have planned what Ivanka Trump said would be the largest ballroom in Washington
Except that in part of that rear annex - on both the outside and in an old restaurant (the bar is even still there) - Bike and Roll (aka "Bike the Sites) currently operates their "National Mall" facility. Which means they're in search of a new home.
It's not going to be easy for them to find a location with such close proximity to the National Mall at such an affordable rate, and the real shame is that they shouldn't have to. The place for their (or some other concessionaire's) bike rental facility is on the Mall itself.
The National Mall has a long history of providing bike rentals.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the Naitonal Park Service operated a bicycle rental service near the Tidal Basin Boat House. Starting in 1942, bicycles were rationed items, making it difficult to buy one. Washington residents and war office workers could rent a bicycle to ride on the paths along the Mall. A trip around Hains Point in East Potomac Park was especially popular.
There was also a gas station on Easy Potomac Park that rented bikes and I know I've seen an old map of the National Mall that shows bicycle rentals at the Park Headquarters building on East Potomac Park.
In addition, bike rentals on the Mall is something that NPS wants in its future. The recently completed National Mall Plan suggested bike rentals at Pershing Park, Union Square and/or the Survey Lodge. Why not make space for Bike and Roll at one of those locations? The obvious answer is that
The NPS has a contractual agreement with Guest Services, Inc., for bike rental services, with Guest Services, Inc. having the right of first refusal for any new or additional services.
They currently rent bikes at Fletcher's Boat House, the Washington Sailing Marina and Thompson's Boat Center, but it's unclear if expanding this service is something they're even interested in. And, because they rent primarily cruisers and some children's bikes, they don't really do the same thing that Bike and Roll does.
Advocates of better Mall transportation and options have butted heads with NPS on their exclusive contracts before, and the question for NPS is which serves it's visitors better - having Bike and Roll on the Mall or somewhere several blocks away?