Ride In 3/7: The Co-opted Co-Op Board

On one of the nicest mornings in some time, I forswook (a combination of forswore and forsook and a very hip new portmanteau in certain literary circles. Same who forswooks something is called a forswookie, which is what you'd also call a tetrad of Chewbaccas) riding my bicycle from my home to my work place and maybe I shouldn't even write a blog post because in a lot of ways, that seems like cheating. I did, however, mutli-modalize my commute and eventually hopped on a bicycle (not literally- the hoping part. The bicycle was a literal bicycle. I know this because it has "forswook" written on the side) for the final mile of my commute from Tenleytown to my workplace. According to the Bikeshare statistics (I follow bikeshare statistic closely because I play Fantasy Bikeshare with a group of friends. It's a complicated game with a lot of money riding on it and yes, that's a pun), I rode for .74 miles and it took me 4 minutes and 48 seconds from dock to dock. Here's my route:
I rode down the sidewalk at Wisconsin and crossed the street at Nebraska. I rode down Nebraska to Ward circle and went right onto Massachusetts. I crossed the street at the crosswalk and docked my bike. I really wish that I had Strava-ed it. It was epic.
My mutli-modalism got me thinking about two things. The first thing is the epic dollar bill vs. dollar coin ad battle going on in the Metro. Why did no one tell me about this?

The second thing was about "last mile" bike commutes, which is admittedly more within the scope of this blog. It's especially within the scope of the blog today, since that was pretty much my bike commute today. It's not within the periscope of this blog because, unfortunately, I don't commute by submarine. Anyway, what I'm trying to say about what I'm trying to think about "last mile" bike commutes is that it's exactly these kinds of bike commuters we should aim all of our collective advocacy. People who are willing to ride 5-10 miles are pretty much already convinced as to the utility of the bicycle as the means of getting around. I think focusing efforts of building good infrastructure for "last mile" commuters (and by infrastructure, I think I mean Bikeshare station and bike lanes and such) is really tantamount. And then all you need to do is set about convincing people that taking a bike for the "last mile" isn't that hard. I don't know about the convincing part, which might or might not be hard, but riding a bike for five minutes isn't very difficult and on a nice day, it sure beats waiting for a shuttle bus. Maybe even on a really crappy day too. I suppose it depends how much you dislike shuttle buses.
I sort of lost track of where I was going with all this, so I'm just going to segue into something else. According to this article, here are DC's top 13 private employers (as of 2009).
  • Georgetown University 
  • George Washington University
  • Washington Hospital Center
  • Children's Medical Center
  • Howard University
  • Georgetown University Hospital
  • American University
  • Fannie Mae
  • Catholic University of America
  • Providence Hospital
  • Howard University Hospital
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • George Washington University Hospital
By my rudimentary knowledge of geography and the metro system, GWU, GWU Hospital, Howard, Howard Hospital, CUA are essentially located at or within walking distance of Metro stations. That leaves 8 other top private employers not at Metro stations. But some of them have Bikeshare: GU and GU hospital, Washington Hospital + Children's (new station!) and AU. And each of these locations is within about a mile of a Metro station. So, that's good. Bike lanes and other improvements should be built between the Metro and these locations. This seems like a no-brainer. But this still leaves us with Providence, Sibley and Fannie Mae. 
  • Providence Hospital is about one mile away from the Brookland and Fort Totten stations. This seems like a good candidate for a Bikeshare station (as does the Fort Totten Metro, but that's a different story) and associated bike improvements. 
  • Fannie Mae is less than a mile away from Tenleytown and only a little farther from Van Ness and would also benefit from a Bikeshare station. It's on Wisconsin Avenue, which, in my opinion, would benefit from a road diet. 
  • Sibley is probably the most isolated of the private employers, but it's still only about 2 miles away (a 10 minute bike ride) from the Metro, which is a totally bikeable distance. A signed bike route (maybe through the backways and residential streets) and a Bikeshare station would definitely a welcome addition. 
So, there you go. Three of DC's top 13 private employers aren't connected to Bikeshare (nor the network of bike lanes)  in any real way and I think that's a shame. It also seems pretty easily rectifiable. I guess the larger point I'm trying to make (other than dollar coins!) is one about inducing demand and making bike commuting, at least for part of the trip, much more viable. For your reference, here's the Bikeshare station map and DC bike infrastructure map, if you're inclined to do your own analysis or are just curious about these or other related things. 
I know that not every doctor or fancy university administrator is going to stop driving in his BMW and switch to biking, but these places employ a wide array of people in many capacities, many of whom are paying a high percentage of their salaries just to be able to get to work. Make their "last mile" cheaper and easier and maybe that promotes an entirely new way of thinking about commuting. I don't really know.
I just think that bike infrastructure and improvements not only needs to be thought about in terms of building a network, but it also needs to consider where people are coming from and where they actually want/need to go. Bike lanes need to go where people need to go and if they don't, then they're not useful, no matter how many miles you put in. There's also a whole social justice/equity angle to consider, but you can consider that at your own leisure. Or not, if you don't like those sorts of things. 
Will be back on the Cross Check for the ride home and, most likely, the evening post will return to the usual ranting/references to corn chips. Namaste. 


  1. Bravo! Great thoughts on the Last Mile. And spot-on. Half the reason I became a runner was my impatience and unwillingness to wait for a bus to show up when I could start walking to the next station. And then the next, knowing that halfway between stops the bus would finally come.

  2. My first real job was at Fannie Mae. I was living in Fairfax, before I knew how much I liked living somewhere walkable. I drove, which was okay in the morning at 7am but always bad and frequently horrific at 4pm. A 30 minute trip in the morning was 1-2 hours in the afternoon. But Metro was over an hour each way, plus I would have had to park at the Metro (I think - I didn't even know buses existed then), and it was prohibitively expensive.

    All that to say I agree with this post.