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White House has a "secret" CaBi station

There is one Capital Bikeshare station that doesn't show up on the online map: the White House station.

Photo by the author.

Located just inside the gate on State Place at 17th St, NW the station can only be used by those who can actually get inside the White House's security perimeter. And it's for that reason, not national security, that it doesn't show up on the map. DDOT doesn't want users making plans based on that station and then finding they can't get to it.

According to DDOT the station, which only has 9 docks, does get used by daily commuters.

Cross-posted at TheWashCycle.

David Cranor is an operations engineer. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and former Texan (where he wrote for the Daily Texan), he's lived in the DC area since 1997. David is a cycling advocate who serves on the Bicycle Advisory Council for DC.  


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I'm perfectly fine with this, but isn't this part of the same Federal Government that won't allow CaBi stations on the Mall or, with great fanfare, Lincoln Park?

I say, cut them off until they get the National Park Service onboard!

by TimK on Nov 26, 2010 12:48 pm • linkreport

Seems kind of odd that a station that's supposed to be part of a 'system' would only be accessible to people with clearance for that specific location. I can understand folks at the White House asking for it, but I can't understand DDOT agreeing to it.

by Lance on Nov 26, 2010 12:51 pm • linkreport

I am still waiting for the day when E St will be re-opened to the public.

by M.V. Jantzen on Nov 26, 2010 12:52 pm • linkreport

@Lance, it is an odd bird station, but it's the White House grounds. When the White House (actually OPM) calls and says they'll pay to have a station on the grounds (and I'm pretty sure they paid the station fee), DDOT wisely agreed. DDOT has also said that their intention is that this will be the only station located inside a secure location.

by darren on Nov 26, 2010 1:20 pm • linkreport

@darren, And the folks at the White House wanting a CaBi Station nearby ... can't walk across the street to get use one in a non-secure location?

The fact that the White House is paying for 'priority service' (if true)and getting it from DDOT is even more egregious. We're not talking about a separate 'service' or 'good' being sold to the White House to bring in some extra funding into the system. We're talking about giving White House cyclists wanting to use the system priority over Joe Schmoe and Mary Jane who work across the street (maybe for the feds too) and can't get in to the 'reserved pick up station' to get a bike that is more sure to be available. After all, these are the same bikes used in the rest of the system and they're being used to go to the same stations.

I think this speaks volumes about what the former director of DDOT saw as 'ok'.

by Lance on Nov 26, 2010 1:58 pm • linkreport

As much as it pains me, I agree with Lance on this. If OPM wanted to subsidize the cost of a Bikeshare station at the White House, great, but it should be available for everyone to share. That is, of course, the point of the system.

by Adam L on Nov 26, 2010 2:09 pm • linkreport

@Lance, my wife works directly across the street, and while it would be nice to dock doorside at 17th, whenever I CaBi over to meet her, I "sharon angle up" and proceed to 19th and Penn, or 15th & NY.

The shared loss of utility of having an upper limit of 4 or so net 'public' bikes out of 1100 behind a cordon, or a net of 3-4 theoretical dock spaces inaccessible in an area that will hopefully someday be filled with them, is far outweighed by the pride I feel that the White House grounds bought and installed a bicycle transit station.

Having a public station would have been extra nice, but to blast away with populist rage over this just seems silly. It's the White House. They get treated extra special sometimes. The alternative of DDOT turning them away over this is just a bit absurd.

by darren on Nov 26, 2010 2:33 pm • linkreport

I also think there is a political advantage to having people who make transportation policy using/seeing CaBi. These are some of the same people we're hoping will approve funding for the program.

by David C on Nov 26, 2010 2:54 pm • linkreport

I'm inclined to agree with Lance. I might re-think that if it turns out the White House paid a premium -- because then they're underwriting the system for the benefit of the general public -- but on the whole I find the growing tendency for the federal government to obsessively seal itself away from contact with the public to be contrary to governing with the consent of the governed. I see no good reason why the station couldn't be across the street, and I'm sure a significant number of tourists would use it if it were.

On a marginally related note, how does DDOT balance the bike supply at that station? If it fills up or empties out, does DDOT have permission to enter the White House grounds, or are the riders out of luck?

by cminus on Nov 26, 2010 3:16 pm • linkreport

I think this speaks volumes about what the former director of DDOT saw as 'ok'.

Former director? What does Emeka Moneme have to do with this? Or have you heard some breaking news that hasn't been published yet?

by cminus on Nov 26, 2010 3:19 pm • linkreport

President Palin is gonna be pissed that these communist bikes are at the White House. They're gone in 2012!


by James on Nov 26, 2010 4:19 pm • linkreport

I think it's soon-to-be-former director. The rumor is that Gray's transition team has asked Klein for his resignation. Tregoning is out, too, but looking for a smooth transition to a federal job.

I think this speaks volumes about what the former director of DDOT saw as 'ok'.
Former director? What does Emeka Moneme have to do with this? Or have you heard some breaking news that hasn't been published yet?

by Sal on Nov 26, 2010 5:18 pm • linkreport

These White House bikes are mostly used during work days/hours. On the other hand, most visits to the mall occur in the evening, on the weekend, and holidays. Can we share?

by Tour Guide on Nov 26, 2010 6:20 pm • linkreport

I hear David Alpert is a member of Gray's Transition Transportation Subcommittee. Maybe he knows something about what is going on vis-a-vis Klein and Tregoning?

by Lance on Nov 26, 2010 6:36 pm • linkreport

In any politically appointed position, it is common practice for the appointees to submit their resignations to the new executive upon entering a new term. You see this in Presidential transitions all the time. You even see it when a President wins a second term.

See this article for more:

Fenty's admin explicitly told all appointees to submit their letter of resignation effective Dec. 31. It is now up to the Mayor-elect to decide if he will accept those resignations or not, and which ones he will choose.

I certainly wouldn't read anything into resignation letters submitted by Fenty appointees.

by a little birdie... on Nov 27, 2010 12:19 am • linkreport

@Lance I'm sure David would have disclosed that if it were true.

by jcm on Nov 27, 2010 1:35 pm • linkreport

@jcm, good point. But I know it's true. So maybe he's not supposed to talk about it on here while the process is on going .

by Lance on Nov 27, 2010 1:54 pm • linkreport

I am not participating in the transition committee. I was invited to but I determined that the requirements to keep nonpublic government information (like budget data) confidential could interfere with my journalistic responsibility to the blog, since I might later come to have such information from other sources and would need to be able to publish it. When you heard I was involved that was while we were trying to figure this out.

by David Alpert on Nov 27, 2010 2:24 pm • linkreport

@David, Sorry to hear that. I'd imagine things look quite different from inside than they do from out here where we don't have to deal with things like budget constraints. It would have been nice to read your thoughts on the experience. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I happened to speak to someone the other night who'd said he'd been in subcommittee meetings with you. I guess those were just organizational?

by Lance on Nov 27, 2010 2:54 pm • linkreport

I dont see the problem here because the station is in addition to, and not in place of an existing station.

If ANYONE wanted to pay the $10,000 cost of a station on their property, then why not? Youre adding 9 docks and 4 bikes to the system.

I do wonder how the maintenance and repositioning system works. Do the bike people get open access to the station when a bike needs a repair?

by JJJJJ on Nov 27, 2010 10:55 pm • linkreport

Do the bike people get open access to the station when a bike needs a repair? I'd bet they do. The station is only 15 feet from the guard booth. No chance to really get away with anything.

by David C on Nov 27, 2010 10:58 pm • linkreport

The White House is a National Park.

This either means that the White House side-stepped the NPS, or that the NPS does allow CaBi's on its property. If they can do it in the White House, then they can do it elsewhere.

by Jasper on Nov 29, 2010 12:12 pm • linkreport

But NPS doesn't really decide what happens on White House grounds.

by David Alpert on Nov 29, 2010 12:15 pm • linkreport

@ David Alpert: I believe that, but the NPS can not cite legal grounds anymore, unless the White House is a special park that does not have to obey by regular law.

by Jasper on Nov 29, 2010 1:10 pm • linkreport


The White House grounds are almost certainly a legal exception to regular NPS rules. NPS might own the land, but they do not control it. We're really talking about what to do with bikesharing on land that NPS controls.

by Alex B. on Nov 29, 2010 1:18 pm • linkreport


The President's Park is administered by NPS, but the White House and its grounds are administered by the Navy. So it's more like a naval station than a national park.

Still, I agree with James above: that'll be one thing ripped out by President Palin in January 2013.

by Packherd on Nov 29, 2010 4:20 pm • linkreport

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