10/16/10

My Bikeshare Slog up Wisconsin Avenue



Another weekend, more nice weather and one more chance to make use of my Bikeshare membership. Today’s trip was mostly inspired by the recently installed station at Tenleytown- I wanted to see exactly where it was placed and see how long it would take to bike from where I work to the station (about 5 minutes). But I suppose that was all pretext anyway, since riding around town is pretty much its own reward and I could have just gone on Monday at lunch. But whatever. 
Here's a map of my route. Here's the station map.

I started at the House of Sweden at the Georgetown Waterfront. As of now, the next closest station in the direction I was heading is the intersection at 34th and Wisconsin, in front of the newly renovated station. There’s two more stations slated to be installed in Georgetown (one in front of the university [hoya saxa] and one below the C & O canal on Wisconsin), but neither of these stations will benefit anyone looking to shop or eat (like at Kitchen No. 1- the best worst Chinese food in Georgetown) along a really long strip of a popular commercial avenue. Wisconsin Avenue itself isn’t exactly bike friendly, lacking bike lanes and sharrows and long stretches of wide road that seem to encourage speeding. Throw in buses and the potential of getting doored by one of the cars on block after block of street parking and you’ve got a pretty bad situation. So, maybe not have a station at the intersection with N or P is recognition/capitulation to the current situation. In any case, the lack of stations pretty much decimates any hoping of shopping chicly by bike.

"Cycle Chic" Ad in Manhattan. This was actually in the window of a health club!

They should really add cup holders.
I docked at 34th and Wisconsin, went into the Safeway and bought some iced tea. I tried to affix the ice tea to my bike using a bungee, but (probably for the best) decided not to ride with it like that. My bike key wasn’t working- luckily a tech was there at the time and he sorted things out. He wasn’t too sure what was wrong, but it worked again, so I didn’t too much care. He also showed me a cool way to undock the bike- namely, that you lift the seat a few inches and drop it. This causes the front mooring to come undone without you having to yank it from the station.
After 34th, the next station is Wisconsin at Macomb. Not really much there- used to be a Giant. There’s a Mexican restaurant and a pizza place called Two Amy’s, which is quite good. There’s maybe going to be an intermediate station, eventually, between these two outside of the Whole Foods at 37th and Wisconsin, but I think DDOT and the Glove Park “neighbors” are still working out the placement. Next after Macomb is the stop at Tenleytown, which is actually on Wisconsin itself, about a half a block south of the Metro. This is the end of the line- no where else to really go north from here, since there’s no stations in Friendship Heights or Bethesda. Tiger II will hopefully change that with the expansion of the system (doubling the number of bikes in DC and putting hundreds of CaBis in the surrounding areas). In any case, Wisconsin is pretty much just one big hill and I can’t imagine too much people doing a trip like mine on any regular basis.
I decided to bike from Tenleytown to AU, and then from AU down to Dupont Circle. This leg was really fun because, aside from a short climb before the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin, it’s all downhill, but in a good, not idiomatic, way. At Dupont, I temporarily docked and then biked back to Georgetown waterfront. It was a pretty good day for a ride and I was glad I checked out these stations.
But, I think it’s safe to say that these stations are pretty useless, overall. This is because, aside from the universities, there are no stations in the “hinterlands” of Georgetown, Glover Park or University Park. So, if you want to use these stations, you’d have to walk or otherwise get to one of the stations along Wisconsin, which are separated by considerable distances. So, while a station in front of a Safeway or Whole Foods sounds good, where are the shoppers supposed to be coming from? I think that the answer to this question is that the expected primary users of the systems will be college students, which I’m sure will antagonize the neighbors and end up getting the stations removed. With so few stations in the area, you don’t really have a network of stations, but several point-to-point routes: AU to Tenleytown, AU to Macomb, GU to Safeway, GU to Wisconsin and M (someone needs to come up with a clever name for this route since the only people who will take it will be Joe and Jane Hoyas going to shop or bar-hop along M). The situation could obviously be amerliorated with the addition of a few more stations- Wisconsin and N, 37th and Wisconsin, in front of the National Cathedral, somewhere along Resevoir by Georgetown Hospital, and somewhere in the heart of Glover Park. And that’s just on the west side of Wisconsin! Cleveland Park is equally underserved. If Bikeshare really wants to become a useful tool for commuters the District, it needs to get into the neighborhoods, which I'm sure is the plan. We just should expect large scale adoption of the program until that happens, because as useful as a quick ride from Dupont to Foggy Bottom might be to circumvent Metro stops, it's not as useful as walking out your front door, picking up a bike at the corner and taking it to the grocery store. 

1 comment:

  1. Actually thee is a station between 34th and Wisconsin Ave. and Macomb/Wisconsin. It is located at the Guy Mason Recreation Center, just east of Wisconsin on Calvert Street!

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