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Breakfast links: CaBi safely

Photo by Susan Sharpless Smith on Flickr.
Only 95 CaBi crashes since 2010: Since launching in September 2010, there have only been 95 reported crashes on Capital Bikeshare, despite over 7 million trips. There have been zero fatalities, and only 31 of the crashes involved a hospital visit. (City Paper)

Kid's seat for CaBi: A Capitol Hill couple built a kid's seat to bike with their daughter to school each day on Capital Bikeshare. They started selling the seats, but CaBi operator Alta said they violate the terms of use. (WAMU)

Fast ferry to Virginia: The Northern Virginia Regional Commission won a nearly $4 million grant to run two high-speed ferries between the Alexandria waterfront and the Navy Yard Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. (WTOP, Catherine)

Metro's got talent: Metro is holding auditions for the "MetroPerforms!" program. They're looking for musicians, dancers, poets, and other performers to perform outside of certain Metrorail entrances this summer as well as at Music on the Mall. (Post)

Historic parking lots: In the early days of historic preservation, parking lots were the bane of historic buildings. Now some of the lots are part of historic applications creating problems for planners and preservationists. (History Sidebar, Capitol Heights)

France to pay people to bike: The French government is experimenting with a program to subsidize employees who bike to work. France wants to increase its proportion of bike commuters, which is much lower than in the Netherlands and Germany. (Streetsblog)

And...: A new bipartisan transportation bill would give localities more access to federal funds. (Streetsblog) ... Petworth's new Safeway will open soon, replacing a much older one. (City Paper) ... A sinkhole has closed a block of G Street to cars. (DCist)

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David Koch is a native of Silver Spring. He first discovered his love of transportation and planning through Greater Greater Washington and Just Up The Pike. He has a planning degree from Rutgers University. You might see him on his bike around Mount Pleasant. 


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"Many people — especially those who subscribe to New Urbanism’s call to retrofit suburbia — are easily persuaded that anything new is better than an old parking lot. Even historic preservationists with the best intentions find themselves overlooking and minimizing the historical significance of suburban commercial landscapes, i.e., parking lots."

The Onion

by Thayer-D on Jun 4, 2014 9:11 am • linkreport

Hmm where would a ferry even dock by National Airport - the economy parking lot? I like that they are thinking creatively but I dont see that one... Alexandria to Navy Yard makes sense even just from a tourism/recreational point of view.

by BTA on Jun 4, 2014 9:19 am • linkreport

I can see CABI's side to the kid seat thing. That's a tort claim waiting to happen if I ever saw one.

But luckily, riding CABI is very safe so continue to use your bootleg seats.

by drumz on Jun 4, 2014 9:26 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D, the Onion could have written the passage if I hadn't, I suppose. Now the real guffaws may be found in this Restoration Oregon April Fool post:

by David Rotenstein on Jun 4, 2014 9:27 am • linkreport

I can see how a parking lot can provide context for the overall story of a building. But I think that's a special case and the value of that preservation (what happened there, besides lots of cars parked and people shopping, or its example as a then-innovative style) has to outweigh the value of what could go there instead.

A better link for thayer might be the "blacktop history" link in Rotenstein's piece. That basically makes the same argument.

by drumz on Jun 4, 2014 9:43 am • linkreport

Sounds like CABI/Alta/Bixi might actually be open to something like this child seat (and maybe other sorts of attachments) if the bicycle itself is designed to accommodate it and a max. child weight of perhaps 75 lbs or whatever is best?

by DaveG on Jun 4, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

There's a comment on the WAMU article where the author, who has worked at a bike shop, says he's seen homemade seats like that that attach to the down rod or cross rod of a bike frame putting too much pressure on the weld and causing the frame to fail. I can see how that would happen, given it's putting stress on the weld from a direction it wasn't designed to withstand.

If the child seat attached behind the main seat, like commercial child seats do, it might be better.

I do like that CaBi isn't rejecting the whole idea though. Maybe they'll work with a manufacturer to develop an approved seat that they know is safe and won't break their bikes.

by Sayne on Jun 4, 2014 9:58 am • linkreport

Re: Placement of docks at DCA

Maybe not quite all the way inland to the economy parking lot. I think it's more likely a floating dock would be put at one of the current employee parking lots - either the one inland of Rwy 4 or the lot in between Rwy 4 & 1. The road infrastructure is already there to transport passengers by bus to the terminal.

by Rob K on Jun 4, 2014 10:00 am • linkreport

The unanticipated genius behind the design of a very robust but heavy CaBi bike has meant that the generally slow speeds has led to fewer crashes, and very few serious ones.

by Crickey7 on Jun 4, 2014 10:02 am • linkreport

Sorry David! I normally agree with the things you write. I guess I'm one of those urbanists who don't much care for large expanses of asphalt.

by Thayer-D on Jun 4, 2014 10:05 am • linkreport

@ Crickey7; I don't think it was unanticipated.

CABI provides the correct speed for urban cycling; almost everyone else is going too fast.

by charlie on Jun 4, 2014 10:05 am • linkreport

Not everything is worth preserving. If suburban strip malls with free parking remain an attractive option for businesses and their patrons, they'll remain. If, as is happening, more and more people decide they want more dense, walkable and transit accessible shopping options, they'll fade away and die. That's not a bad thing. Cities must evolve to serve the needs of their people.

by Zeus on Jun 4, 2014 10:16 am • linkreport

Within a year, a fast ferry could bring commuters from the Alexandria, Virginia, waterfront to the Navy Yard.
The money will be used to buy two ferry boats and operate them during commuter hours.

I hope they're smart enough to also run around baseball games.

Other than that, I am not sure this is gonna work for commuters. The Alexandria Waterfront is rather transit poor. I do not know how this would benefit people coming from PW. How would they get to Alexandria? Take VRE then the free shuttle, then the ferry? Drive to the waterfront, park (where?) then ferry?

I am all for ferries, but this does not seem to be a smart plan. If you want to set up a successful ferry, you need to have stops in Aquia, Quantico, Indian Head, Woodbridge, Ft Belvoir, Ft Washington (?), National Harbor, Alexandria, Reagan (?), NRL, Ft McNair (?) and finally the Navy Yard.

In short, you need enthusiastic cooperation from DOD.

by Jasper on Jun 4, 2014 10:16 am • linkreport

Or maybe on the Gravelly Point side? Looks like there is alraedy some (minimal) infrastructure there and it would be closer to Navy Yard and perhaps a NW location which might make sense.

by BTA on Jun 4, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

I agree with charlie on the speed issue. I am not a fan of cyclists that zip through red lights and certainly ones that do it at speeds beyond some peoples reaction times. Although higher speeds work well when you have separated lanes.

by BTA on Jun 4, 2014 10:20 am • linkreport

CABI provides the correct speed for urban cycling; almost everyone else is going too fast.

Yeah, I agree. Scorching through town at 25+ MPH is only for those with a death wish.

Re: Bike Seat. It's fantastic the family is committed to using a bicycle to take their daughter to school rather than adding yet another clown car to the road. But I think at that point I would purchase a proper bike with child arrangement.

My biggest regret with CaBi is its limited ability to handle everyday carrying loads. I would love for them to have a rear rack that one could hang a shopping pannier onto. It would greatly improve the usefulness.

by jeffb on Jun 4, 2014 10:21 am • linkreport

Re: dock at National, My guess would be economy parking lot, too but who knows. I think a large focus of the water taxi use from the airport would be to National Harbor--conventions and the like.

I think the Alexandria to Navy Yard is good, but I think there's a pretty narrow potential customer base (which I happen to fall into--live in Old Town and work on the House side of Capitol Hill) and while I like the idea as a novelty, it really would have to be faster than Metro (and I'm skeptical on that, even with the transfer) and probably (for me to use it regularly) permit bikes on board.

A SW Waterfront water taxi stop I know was discussed before and that may make a bit more sense (closer to L'Enfant for transfer purposes) but I just don't see how they beat Metro on that timing (17 minutes from King Street to L'Enfant).

by Catherine on Jun 4, 2014 10:22 am • linkreport

I think Crickey7 does have a point, Many of the early critics of bike sharing probably didn't perceive that the style of riding that CaBi would promote would be safer than cyclists overall.

by jeffb on Jun 4, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

Why would anyone take a ferry to a point half a mile from the airport terminal when there is high-capacity, high-frequency rail transit that drops you literally 300 feet from the terminal?

The airport terminal is not actually on the water!

Yeah, I agree. Scorching through town at 25+ MPH is only for those with a death wish.

Only a select group of cyclists can go 25MPH on a bike. The vast majority are riding 15mph or less. My usual cruising speed is about 16 when I ride to work (I have a speedometer) and I pass most others.

CABI provides the correct speed for urban cycling; almost everyone else is going too fast.

Gotta love this argument when the speed limit for heavier (and far more deadly) vehicles is 25 and people regularly drive faster than that on city streets.

by MLD on Jun 4, 2014 10:30 am • linkreport

Re: child bike seat.

I can see the demand for a child seat add-on on CaBi...sort of. I think if cycling were going to me by main mode of child toting, I'd outfit my own bike with any of the many commercially available options (the Tyke Toter looks cool to me for older kiddos) or buy a bakfiets.

That said, just as there is a clear demand for the service CaBi provides, even for people who own their own bikes and use them regularly, so I'd imagine that that extends to those with children as well. The thing is--would you really carry around a child bike seat for the 20 or so minutes you need it?

by Catherine on Jun 4, 2014 10:31 am • linkreport

The OT to Navy Yard metro is probably most viable for folks who work Navy Yard - at NavSea, at USDOT, and in the private office buildings on M Street, Half Street, etc. It would be much more viable if the office buildings on Half Street would actually fill and more of the lots zoned for office would get built out.

And as Catherine says, if the ferry could handle bikes (and do so efficiently wrt on boat space) that would expand the range of usage at both ends. It could make it a desirable route for folks from the Huntington Metro area who have decent bike access to the Old Town waterfront - and the bike-ferry-bike commute would be a lot more pleasant than riding metro.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 4, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport


Only a select group of cyclists can go 25MPH on a bike. The vast majority are riding 15mph or less. My usual cruising speed is about 16 when I ride to work (I have a speedometer) and I pass most others.

No - I'm with you 10 - 15 MPH or so seems, to me, to be the sweet spot. But I have seen much faster - certainly some going downhill on Wisconsin, Massachusetts or Connecticut.

by jeffb on Jun 4, 2014 10:36 am • linkreport

@ charlie:

I admit I go too fast. It's a design flaw, either mental or physical, or both.

by Crickey7 on Jun 4, 2014 10:46 am • linkreport

@charlie: I gotta admit, I just can't think of why I'm going "too fast". I'm not breaking the speed limit by any stretch. I'm not speeding through red lights. I'm just faster than the average Cabi rider (I accidentally typed "fatter" first; also true). How is this too fast?

by RDHD on Jun 4, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

Gravelly Point has one big disadvantage - terminal access. Only one way in/out from the GW parkway.

by Rob K on Jun 4, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

Boats also aren't the easiest thing to get on and off of, they would need to have really streamlined boarding ability for people with big suitcases going to/from the airport.

by BTA on Jun 4, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

The point is that the margin of error shrinks with higher speed. An experienced rider has developed skills that offset that increased risk. So it's a matter of too fast for some, just right for others.

by Crickey7 on Jun 4, 2014 10:53 am • linkreport

Interesting construction update just released from DC streetcar today

Sounds like revenue service may be 3 to 4 months away (cue well deserved jokes...)

by h st ll on Jun 4, 2014 10:54 am • linkreport


Yes, and Belle Haven, too. Unless I'm missing something big, I've always found that to be a pretty dense area that is pretty transit poor. A bike-boat-bike setup would be a great setup for people living there, I think. (Assuming there would ever be a reasonably safe way to cross the GW Parkway to get to the Mount Vernon Trail).

by Catherine on Jun 4, 2014 11:00 am • linkreport

You incorrectly reported an incorrect WTOP report. The ferry service grant is for travel between Alexandria and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, not the Navy Yard:

There is already water taxi service between Alexandria and Nats stadium.

by Marie on Jun 4, 2014 11:00 am • linkreport

@ Crickey7; but to go back to original point the speed on CABI is slow enough that an accident doesn't hurt badly. Not about your ability to control the bike.

I had a fall on CABI thank to the New Hampshire construction; I was able to walk away with a partial muscle tear in shoulder and a nasty gash. If I had been going faster it would have been very bad.

my GF blew out her CABI tire about two weeks ago, very scary, and if she wasn't going slowly would have lost control.

Unlike MLD I don't feel like red meat today, but again my point is that CABI deliberately sets a lower speed which is better for urban biking. The refrain of "oh, it is too hot and I need special clothes" is also a sign -- on a CABI bike even in summer I can bike in a wool pants/shirt (I'll admit in summer the suit jacket is too much)

by charlie on Jun 4, 2014 11:06 am • linkreport

Been in FL last couple weeks and I like these signs that are here:
 photo IMG_20140602_135239.jpg

Broward now has a bike-share which seems to be Bixi but it's still small and I don't know how they can expand with Bixi's problems.

 photo IMG_20140603_195130.jpg

A new on-demand "Smart Crosswalk" has been installed on Los Olas.

by Tom Coumaris on Jun 4, 2014 11:07 am • linkreport

Cyclists are going too fast, and pedestrians are going too fast as well. The other day I was almost knocked over by somebody rushing past me on a metro escalator. Terrible. Indeed, the metrorail trains also have a very high top speed- that should probably be limited in case livestock become startled. And for cars, we need to bring back that rule about the guy walking in front waving a flag. Don't get me started on the Goodyear blimp. When I see it whizzing overhead, I shake my fists with rage.

by renegade09 on Jun 4, 2014 11:08 am • linkreport

Why would anyone take a ferry to a point half a mile from the airport terminal when there is high-capacity, high-frequency rail transit that drops you literally 300 feet from the terminal?

I know, I think the same thing. That's why I'm guessing the main use would be for National Harbor-bound folks. That is not exactly the easiest place in the world to access by Metro. But then the question is, is there enough demand to justify it? Or any of it? Who knows.

I'm basically *the* demographic for the Old Town/Navy Yard route--I live in Old Town, closer to the waterfront than the Metro, I work within a mile or so of the Navy Yard, I don't own a car and bike or transit daily and I love boats, I have a season pass for the Potomac Riverboat Co and take the water taxi home from work on Fridays already, just for kicks. Maybe I lack imagination, but I can't imagine many other scenarios and people who are more open to this as a real commute option that someone with my setup. And *I* have my reservations about it.

I like it for novelty but it would need to be:

(1) close to Metro on time (I'd accept an extra 15 minutes for the total door-to-door trip to avoid the transfer and for the pleasantness. But this probably means they'd have to be no more than 5 minutes slower than Metro with the time to get on/off the boat and then the mile or so to the office building)
(2) close to Metro on price and eligible for transit subsidy from employers (again, I'd pay a bit more but not much and I'm not going to go from free to $200/month)
(3) take bikes. This is not a dealbreaker (I could park my own bike at the dock and CaBi to the office) but a very large factor.

by Catherine on Jun 4, 2014 11:11 am • linkreport

I've had 2 unreported, inconsequential crashes on CaBi. Both were due to slippery conditions that I was aware of (ice and damp leaves) so I was riding slowly enough that I wasn't injured in the fall.

It's probably obvious that there have been a lot more than 95 crashes on CaBi, but just wanted to add my experience. Clearly the bikes are very safe; probably safer than my road bike due to their design.

by jack on Jun 4, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

That's B-Cycle, not bixi. They have it in a bunch of places.

by MLD on Jun 4, 2014 11:25 am • linkreport


Yes, ceteris paribus, a crash at low speed will always result in fewer injuries. That does not lead ineluctably to a pronouncement that higher speeds are "too fast." By your logic, one would never set foot on an airplane.

by Crickey7 on Jun 4, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

@BTA re: boarding/deboarding a ferry w/ luggage. Its done all the time w/ ease. See Mackinac Island Main St. dock and/or Mackinac Island ferries.

by Tina on Jun 4, 2014 11:38 am • linkreport

Love the ferry idea. Anything to start using our waterways more. Also, it might further prompt the beautification of the water front, be that built or natural.

by Thayer-D on Jun 4, 2014 11:53 am • linkreport

In fact, the ferry service story has already been reported widely (and correctly) by WAMU and other news outlets:

by Marie on Jun 4, 2014 11:54 am • linkreport

okay any one more familiar with conditions at JB Bolling? Are there enough people going from Alexandria to there (and to USCG HQ) to justify it, or does it only make sense if the rest of DHS moves?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 4, 2014 11:57 am • linkreport

If by "urban cycling" you mean "riding on the sidewalk", I agree that over 9mph is a really bad idea.

by JimT on Jun 4, 2014 12:00 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity: Will it stop at the Pentagon?

by JimT on Jun 4, 2014 12:01 pm • linkreport

There are probably people who work at the Suitland Federal Center and live in Alexandria who would use the ferry to bike to work. Most of them go to 14th Street to cross because the ride from Wilson Bridge/National Harbor is so unappealing.

by David C on Jun 4, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport


I've been riding with the Tyke Toter with my son since he turned 2 (on a personal bike, not BikeShare). It's great! We used to commute every day with it.

by Tony Goodman on Jun 4, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

Ah I see. That doesn't make a huge amount more sense than Navy Yard but at least it does a bit.

@Tony Goodman
Yeah that one looks awesome. Just got to get around to having a tot do tote around on it :)

by Catherine on Jun 4, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

I think appropriate cycling speed depends on circumstances and situations just like appropriate driving speed. Are you on a shared use path, bike lane, sidewalk or taking your lane on the road? Is it icy, dark, or wet? If it's dark, is your bike well lighted with reflective tape or are you riding a cabi with little lighting?

Also, losing your balance and falling off your bike is no more a crash than tripping on the sidewalk walking. I'd call those things accidents.

by Falls Church on Jun 4, 2014 1:13 pm • linkreport

Catherine: I don't know how many employees are at JBAB but the actual facility is huge. As AWalkerInTheCity and the WAMU piece mentioned, without DHS in Congress Heights, or a way to get people there from this ferry, it may not make sense. I am not even sure there is infrastructure at JBAB to get people from the water side around the base to roads/bike paths/etc. I don't know how security concerns would get worked out either. The bike path around the city side gate is terrible and the Anacostia metro stop is still far. The future plan for the streetcar includes a track to JBAB but as we know it will be a long time (if ever) for that to materialize.

by Marie on Jun 4, 2014 1:21 pm • linkreport

the website says about 16,000 employees at JBAB. USCG HQ is supposed to about 3,800 employees.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 4, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

If security is an issue, place a guardhouse at the ferry dock at JBAB, or require JBAB ID to exit the ferry there. I'm sure something can be figured out. There's also no reason such a ferry should be limited to JBAB on the Anacostia/E. side Potomac anyway.

@Falls Church - sure you don't want to call losing your balance and falling off your bike a "systemic failure?" ;-)

by DaveG on Jun 4, 2014 3:36 pm • linkreport

That business about possibly preserving historic but unused parking lots is insane. It would be better to instead document the history, perhaps with a plaque discussing how the land use evolved from parking to something better :-)

by DaveG on Jun 4, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

@Coumaris: that's B-Cycle (not Bixi), made by Trek Bicycles of Wisconsin.

by Payton Chung on Jun 4, 2014 5:15 pm • linkreport

I had a crash on a CaBi about a year ago and I seriously doubt mine was included in that statistic (yes, it involved a hospital visit too). I even called CaBi while waiting for the ambulance to show up and all the employee on the other end of the line could tell me was where the nearest CaBi station was located. It seemed like crashes weren't part of his training.

by John M. on Jun 5, 2014 10:12 am • linkreport

here have been zero fatalities, and only 31 of the crashes involved a hospital visit.

As I recall, Andre Brands was struck and killed back in May 2013 at the intersection of 11th and U St NW, while on a CaBi bike.

by Scoot on Jun 5, 2014 12:27 pm • linkreport

He was not on a CaBi.

by David C on Jun 5, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

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