Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Capital Bikeshare's bikes dominated the National Mall this weekend

March 18, 2012 - 09:20 AM
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(Photo: Heather Rudow)

With temperatures creeping into the 70s, St. Patrick's Day was a perfect day for biking — and for heading to the National Mall to see the gorgeous, century-old cherry blossoms in bloom. I walked past the Washington Monument down to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in the Tidal Basin this past Saturday morning and was stunned at the number of Capital Bikeshare bikes I saw. The first two of five planned Capital Bikeshare stations were installed on Friday, and no one wasted any time in using the bikeshare bikes.

Capital Bikeshare set a staggeringly high new record on Saturday with 7,805 rides. The previous record, set last week, was 6,313 trips in a day, and I expect as the 1.5-year-old system continues to open more stations and the weather grows warmer, we'll see more record-breaking days. The National Park Service includes a terrific history of the cherry blossoms here, all of which creates a massive draw for residents and tourists alike and helped produce the record.

Yet on Sunday, the Post's Tim Craig encountered new bikeshare stations that still suffered from some debut kinks. "One dock at new Ohio Drive on Mall already broke and won't accept bikes and station full and lots peep her trying to drop off bikes," Craig tweeted at Capital Bikeshare's Twitter account yesterday, "and because system thinks Ohio Drive station not full cause of broken dock, system not able to give time credits. The new station next to Wash Monument is off line. Machine stuck so no new memberships and bikes for daily members can be issued."

The District Department of Transportation responded via its @Bikeshare Twitter account last night to note its crews had fixed the problems.

The popularity of the new stations, installed rapidly and so recently, still stands out despite those issues. Hardly a moment would pass before another Capital Bikeshare bike appeared in my field of vision on Saturday. On Sunday, Craig noticed the same: "Seems like one out of every 20 or 30 persons I saw was on a red bike," he tweeted, also noting that one of the new stations on the Mall was full.

As I watched one group of folks after another enter the vicinity of the MLK Memorial with their CaBi bikes, I could barely believe the reports from last fall of Park Police turning away bicyclists at the new memorial. How times have changed, no? Let's hope the District's pedicab operators fared just as well this past weekend (the NPS is still developing regulations for them). The warm weather will mean more transportation options — let's hope tempers don't rise with the temperature.

Chocolate strawberries
(Photo: Heather Rudow)
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