Are short-term bike rentals one solution for easing traffic congestion around the National Mall in Washington, D.C.? The NPS has proposed allowing five stations on NPS-managed property as part of the growing Capital Bikeshare system, and is accepting public comments for the idea.
According to the program's website, "Capital Bikeshare puts 1,100 bicycles at your fingertips. You can choose from over 110 stations across Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA and return it to any station near your destination. Check out a bike for your trip to work, Metro, run errands, go shopping, or visit friends and family. Join Capital Bikeshare for 24 hours, 3 days, 30 days, or a year, and have access to our fleet of bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free. Each additional 30 minutes incurs an additional fee."
The idea got underway in 2008, when the District of Columbia began offering 120 bikes at 10 stations. In 2010, the District joined forces with Arlington County, Virginia, for an expanded bikesharing system, which now includes some 1,100 bikes and 116 stations.
The idea seems to be catching on. According to a Bikeshare spokesperson, "With more than 18,000 members and 1 million total rides, Capital Bikeshare has doubled the initial projections for the system. Project managers were aiming to attract 8,000 members in the first year and hoped they would take 500,000 rides."
NPS officials were originally reluctant to allow Bikeshare stations on park property on and around the National Mall (NAMA), but a recent agency announcement acknowledges, "The Capital Bikeshare program is a regional alternative transportation amenity for visitors and residents and has quickly become a viable form of public transportation."
The request for public comments on the proposal notes, "Participating in this bikeshare system would fulfill the goal of enhancing bicycle use at the park, as envisioned in NAMA's 2008 National Mall Visitor Transportation Study and the 2010 National Mall Plan. Increasing bicycle use reduces traffic congestion, fossil fuel use and air emissions, and provides an additional and affordable form of access to destinations throughout the park."
There are five proposed locations for Bikeshare stations: The Smithsonian Metro Station entrance area on National Mall and sites in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the FDR/MLK Memorial.
A NPS spokesperson says, "These locations have been selected based on their proximity to visitor destinations, access to compatible modes of transportation such as Metro and bike paths, and connectivity to other Capital Bikeshare stations. They are located in the vicinity of 'Visitor Transportation Stops' as shown on the Circulation Map for the Preferred Alternative in the National Mall Plan."
You'll find links to an aerial map showing the proposed locations, as well as ground-level photos of each individual site at this webpage.
If you like to comment on the proposal, you can do so through December 28, 2011, at this link.