USDOT's new bike sharing program is a bike
There's now a new bike sharing program at the US Department of Transportation. Is this another incompatible system like the failed House of Representatives program, American University's, and NPS's? No
anyone other folks at USDOT use his bike. In an attempt to gauge the possible success of a bike sharing program at DOT, he's encouraging coworkers to take the bike out of the garage for short trips around town.
The bike. Photo by the owner.
It's understandable that he wouldn't want to put it outside for anyone to use, but if USDOT were to institute a real bike sharing program, it ought to be part of SmartBike or a successor public system, with racks outside on M Street, instead of a private system. A public system would let employees ride bikes one way for errands (perhaps to ride to a store but taxi back with a heavy purchase), use the bikes for commuting to and from a nearby Metro station, and also benefit residents and employees of nearby buildings.
Here's his letter to fellow employees:
I, and I'm sure a few of you, think bike-sharing is a pretty neat idea. Here in DC, SmartbikeDC program is great, and having a station or a dedicated bike fleet pool at DOT and/or FAA would be wonderful. Not only for riding around the neighborhood ourselves, but having bikes available for outreach and education to non-cyclists. But, the rising cost and slow growth of SmartbikeDC, plus the recent failure of a bike fleet program at the House of Representatives, means that if bike sharing ever gets closer to implementation here at DOT, questions will probably arise as to how often such bikes would actually get used.
Well, I found myself in possession of a brand new and fully-outfitted commuter bike until November (I won a raffle, and I'm selling the bike to a friend later this year). So, in hopes of demonstrating how often DOT HQ employees might make use of bike sharing station or a bike fleet, I'm throwing this bike open for borrowing now through October 30th. I'll be using the odometer to track how many miles the bike travels, in hopes of quantifying bike use per person, miles per person, etc, and compiling info about how the bike is used. The bike is a new Specialized Globe Carmel, a relaxed geometry town bike, and the kind folks at CyclelifeUSA in Georgetown threw in a removable front basket, a U-lock, a bell, fenders, kickstand, and a couple of snap-bands to secure pants legs. A picture of the bike is attached.
How do I "check out" the bike?
- No reservations, just take the bike. No overnight trips please, but otherwise, go nuts.
- The bike is located in the racks across from the [exact location redacted]. If there's a need to relocate to another rack, I'll let everybody know.
- Strictly BYOH (Bring Your Own Helmet).
- Adjust the saddle with the quick-release seatpost collar. The bike is Medium size, and by adjusting the seat height, just about anybody can fit on this bike, at least for short jaunts.
- The bike is secured to the rack with a small cheapo cable combination lock.
- Do not take the combo lock with you. There is a U-lock mounted on a bracket near the rear wheel, and the key to this lock is hanging inside the front basket. Use this lock to secure the bike outside the garage.
- When you return, lock the bike at the same rack where you picked it up, using the cable combo lock.
How can I help ensure the success of this experiment?
- Ride the bike frequently. Don't be shy.
- Email me with descriptions of trips you have taken (your destination, distance covered, time of day, what mode of transport you would have otherwise taken). A valuable prize awaits the first person to email me details about a ride they take on the bike.
- Email me if you intended to take a trip, but the bike was already out.
- Promptly notify me of any maintenance issues, especially with the handlebar computer that is logging the miles, and thus measuring our usage.
- Email me your thoughts and suggestions on improving this experiment.
- Got a spare headlight/taillight sitting around? Maybe a good-condition loaner helmet? A spare floor pump? Any other accessories that would make this bike more usable?
I've already got a bike, why should I ride this one?
- More miles on the bike helps make the case.
- Flat pedals and upright geometry make it a bit better suited for the quick ride to Barrack's Row in your business attire than your skinny-tired racing bike.
- Did you know there's a Safeway at 4th and M St SW? It's a long walk, but a quick ride.
- You can save your office a few dollars on Metro/cab costs for crosstown meetings.
- No offense to the hardy souls who risk contracting tetanus from their rusty 30-year-old beater, but riding a new/different bicycle is a nice change-of-pace.
Anything else I need to know?
- I'll send out occasional updates on usage, stay tuned.
- If you know of anybody who you think might make use of the bike, and you can reasonably assume is capable of safely riding a bicycle without instruction, please feel free to forward this email as an invitation. But please copy me, so that I can track the 'total population' of our experiment.
- Once you unlock the bike, your are responsible for it's safe return to it's original location. Properly locking the bicycle with the provided U-lock at your destination is an important part of that responsibility.
- By unlocking the bike, you are acknowledging the inherent hazards of bicycling, acknowledging that I make no claims about the fitness of the bicycle for use, and absolving me of any/all liability arising from your use of the bike.
I'll be out on travel for the next few days, so I may be slow to respond, but if you have questions/concerns, fire away. Happy riding!
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