DC is quickly becoming one of the most progressive bike share cities in the US. It hasn't been the smoothest road, but in less than a year, the Nation's capital has made great strides in improving access to bikes for residents and tourists.
In March of 2010, Revolution Cycles, an independent bicycle retailer with four shops in the DC metro area, opened its fifth location with the intention of focusing on people-managed bike sharing in this Arlington, Virginia-based store. Known as the Revolution Cycles City Hub, this innovative concept has one hundred Trek Allant bikes (cruiser-style, equipped with fenders, handlebar bags, and locks) on hand that are available both for renters and bike sharers. Initially, the bike share program was only accessible for residents and employees that lived and worked within the official boundaries of Crystal City, Virginia, the neighborhood in which the shop is located. However, the City Hub's reach grew exponentially last week with the official announcement of a partnership between Revolution Cycles and Kettler Management, one of the DC area's largest private real estate and property management companies.
Kettler, which manages more 65 buildings that house more than 15,000 apartment units, is the first property management company in the DC metro area to bring bike share access to all of its residents as well as employees. The employees get the best deal: no cost access to a bike at the Hub for up to three hours each day, seven days a week. The added benefit for residents isn't too shabby, either: low cost access to the program that was previously only offered to people living or working in Crystal City. The partnership is great news for Revolution and for Kettler. Revolution is getting more people on bikes, which was the goal when the company decided to open the City Hub a year ago. And Kettler, known for providing exceptional amenities to its communities, is offering another environmentally friendly perk to its residents. "We feel that the Revolution Cycles bike share program is the perfect fit for our residents and employees," said Karen Kossow, vice president of sales and marketing for Kettler. "Many DC apartment renters don't own their own bikes and this program will allow them to enjoy all of the fabulous trails that the DC area has to offer." The Hub is not intended to provide commuters with point-to-point bike access, but the people-managed bike share program that is offered at this retail location is perfect for using a bike to explore DC or to run errands without needing to put the key in the ignition.
Launched this September, Capital Bikeshare is also underway in DC. Operated by Alta Bicycle Share, Capital Bikeshare has 1,100 bikes floating (or rolling) between more than 110 stations in the DC metro area. With the purchase of a membership, which can be for a single day, a month, or a year, the first thirty minutes of riding on one of these big red bikes is free. The idea is to get from point A to point B, and after the first thirty minutes, fees begin to accumulate. Capital Bikeshare has come a long way from DC's first attempt at automated bike sharing a few years ago. The District went from offering 120 bikes to 1,100 and expanded the scope of the program to include Arlington, Virginia. And, with improved technology in the stations as well as online and on your phone (yes, there's an app for that), the number of red bikes that can be seen all over the city continues to grow.
These two bike share programs are completely different. The Hub has bike enthusiasts sending people out on bikes, and these people can help adjust the saddle height or give a quick lesson in shifting gears (and they provide the helmet). However, the bikes leave and return to the same location, so although the program is fantastic for hopping on a paved trail to tour the city, for taking an hour-long spin during a lunch break, and for running errands around the neighborhood, it won't help you get from your apartment in Arlington to your office in DC everyday. Capital Bikeshare is great for people that want to cover the distance between the metro and the office on a bike and for tourists that want to use a bike to navigate the city one bike share station at a time, but you get thirty minutes, not three hours, so the joy riding is generally kept to a minimum. That both of these programs can exist and thrive within the same city, complementing each other more than competing with one another, give hope to people that want to believe that DC is on its way to becoming one of the nation's great cycling cities.