Today I had a great opportunity to try out my new membership to Capital Bikeshare. I was attending a 1/2 day seminar at the Hilton Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, north of Dupont Circle. Since I take the Orange Line from Arlington, I decided to disembark at Foggy Bottom and ride up to the conference, allowing me to skip the transfer at Metro Center.
The station at Foggy Bottom is not yet in place, so I had to walk two blocks east to the station at 21st & I Streets. There were about 12-15 bikes at this station, ready to go. It was pretty easy; I just inserted my fob in the slot, the light turned yellow, then green, and the bike unlocked. I put my bag in the rack, secured it with the attached bungee and headed up 20th Street.
(View Steve Offutt's bikeshare map from October 1 2010 in a larger map)
At first I did not notice the station at 20th & Florida. I had misremembered the location as being at 19th and Florida. When I got there, I did not see a station. I called the toll-free number on the bike and was directed to the station by a customer service agent. The reason I had missed it was because it is a much smaller station and there was only a single bike in it.
About noon I left my event and went back to the station for the return trip. Unfortunately, there were no bikes at 19th & Florida. I walked to Dupont Circle to the station on Massachusetts Avenue and got a bike there. During the time I got that bike, two other people did as well. I had a short conversation with a woman who was using one for the first time and was very excited about it. I rode back to 21st & I, returned the bike, walked to Foggy Bottom and took the Metro home. I saved 95 cents over the fares I would have paid had I taken the Metro to Dupont.
From this experience, it appears that the system is getting used:
- At least two others must have used the station near the hotel, since the two bikes that were there when I went in were gone when I came out.
- The station at Dupont was used by two others just in the few minutes I was there
- The station at 21st & I Street had clearly been used numerous times over the 3 hours between my two visits, because the bikes were all moved around from their original locations.
Here's hoping they get the rest of the stations opened pronto--particularly downtown stations in advance of the Metro shutdown during Columbus day weekend.
Steve Offutt is a founding member of Capital Bikeshare, which means he got a cool, black t-shirt when he joined.