To the BikeStation!
0 comment Tuesday, April 15, 2014 |
This past Friday, DC had a grand opening for BikeStation, something I've been looking forward to for a while. This has been a dream of transportation planners and cyclists here since the late 1990s, and has been under serious planning and subsequent construction since 2005. One part of the story I know about is that DC used Denver's bike station feasibility study as part of their justification for citing it at the main train station. But the joke is on Denver, while RTD paid for a study that clearly made a favorable impression on some, the actual station(s) at Denver Union Station have been on the skids for years.
I was planning to go over in the afternoon to check it out and collect the mandatory schwag (in this case, a metal water bottle), but I found out there was to be a ribbon cutting at 10:30 with all the planning and bicycling professionals sure to be in attendance. I also happened to have my co-worker Lilly's SmartBike card from the day before (farmer's market run, those bikes have baskets), and I thought it would be a sad day if I couldn't drag one of my co-workers along for the hullaballoo. With about 10 minutes to get there, I ended up heading out with my colleague Nish, and taking him on his first SmartBike ride.
After a brisk three miles of bobbing and weaving through traffic, we got to Union Station later than the appointed time, but found out that it was all waiting on Mayor Fenty's arrival. He got there a few minutes later, and they set up a podium for speeches. Here is the mayor with DDOT director Gabe Klein and (bike-riding) Councilman Tommy Wells behind him:

The actual bike station is pretty slick. The exterior is supposed to evoke a bike helmet, but is pretty rad any way you cut it. A local rental fleet operator, Bike and Roll has a shop on one side where they sell the small necessities and have a repair stand. The majority of the station is racks, which ingeniously trap your bike when you roll it in. The whole thing is operated by a group called "BikeStation", and they do all the membership things. $150 a year gets you 24 hour access, but anyone can purchase shorter term usage and have supervised access from 7 AM to 7 PM.
Because of where I live, I doubt I'll be using it unless I take a train ride to NYC or something, but BikeStation is going to be great for a lot of train commuters coming in daily from outside of DC. I think they mentioned that out of the 260 potential memberships they can sell, they already sold 70 of them so far, and the place just opened. Apparently, DC also has the 7th most bike commuters per capita in the country, and second most on the East Coast. This all bodes well for a variety of other bike initiatives, including expanding Smart Bike.
So basically, a day of warm fuzzies for us bike commuters. One other good thing came out of it, after a return trip to work by bike with Nish (which I later overheard him describing "... Will is a maniac."), Nish has become impressed with, and decided to join SmartBike ($35 a year). Good on you, mate.

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