Friday, April 8, 2011

Sharing Bikes

Since I moved into the city in January, I have continued to contemplate two things:

  1. Whether or not Capital Bikeshare makes sense for someone who already owns two bikes.
  2. Whether or not joining capital bikeshare would result in frequent bike riding sans helmet.

    For those of you who don't live in DC, and aren't familiar with Capital Bikeshare, it is a very cool thing. It is pretty self explanatory- it's a bike sharing service in the nation's capital that expanded on SmartBike DC in 2010 and now has over 1,100 bikes at 114 locations. It costs $75 to join for a year, $25 for a month, $15 for five days, and $5 for 24-hours. With this membership, you can take free 30-minute rides anywhere, anytime. After the first thirty minutes, you will be charged an additional fee that depends on the amount of time you use the bike. Members receive a bike key that they use at any one of the 114 stations to rent a bike, which can then be dropped off at any other station in the city.

    I know it may seem a little frivolous to take advantage of this service when I have two perfectly good bikes sitting in my bedroom, ready to be ridden anywhere. And it is frivolous. But this is America, after all, and it also kind of makes sense. I can think of many times at which I've said or thought "this would be a lot easier if I had capital bikeshare." Like that time I was meeting Nikki at her apartment before taking a bus to our SoleMates dinner in Logan Circle. Riding my own bike would have meant leaving it at her apartment and coming back for it later that night. Or that Saturday night when I met Nathan and his friends at the Black Cat for drinks and dancing. Riding Lucy would have meant riding home "under the influence" at 2 am and that obviously wasn't an option. Or yesterday, when I was in a big hurry to get home to my kitchen where I had an hour and a half to bake and decorate Brendon's birthday cake. Biking would have cut 12 minutes off of my commute, which barely counts as a commute as is. I truly do love lucy and I won't stop riding her around this city but the beauty of the bike share is in the one-way trip. It's like a revolutionary cab service that is there when you need it (because the stations really are everywhere), that costs you $75 a year, that (according to Betsy Shaw) makes you feel like you're in Paris, that is good for yourself and good for the earth, and that puts you not in a car but ON A BIKE!

    In contemplating my two questions, I've thought of all of this and I've seriously considered taking the plunge. But I have continued to be burdened by the later question: what would this mean for my helmet wearing? I take helmets very seriously. If you are my friend and you don't wear one, you know this, because I nag you a lot. I also nag you if you ride at night without lights. (ehem... Ingrid) I know that my chances of getting in an accident are slim but why even risk it? I believe in good luck and I believe in bad luck and I am superstitious enough to think that the one time I ride without a helmet, my bad luck will get the better of me and I won't be well-equipped. But I also know myself well enough to know that I will be spontaneous and I will probably want to pick up bikes and ride whether I have a helmet on me or not. And, why would i just have a helmet on me? Oh wait, let me pull that out of my back pocket...

    So the contemplation had been just that- contemplation. And some discussion. But no action.

    No action until this morning when I opened my e-mail to find a particularly exciting message from living social. "Your Daily Deal. Washington, DC. Bikeshare Month ($12) or Year ($37) Membership." Well hello red bikes with funky handlebars and yellow writing! For $37 a year, I think we're going to be good friends. I have taken the plunge and I am more excited than I expected to be. It's like another rite of passage that confirms my existence as a DC resident. If flashing my DC license for the first time, ordering a Stella at L'Enfant Cafe this week, made me a little giddy (Dork? Yes. In Paris? Unfortunately not.), I can only imagine what it'll feel like to pick up and drop off one of those bikes for the first time. Maybe I romanticize it but I don't care. This is a good community to be a part of. And so I've joined it.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment