Thursday, August 21, 2008

What We're Missing: Smartbikes at DCUSA

A DCist post on Smartbike, DC's bike sharing program, spawned some good comments - that DCUSA would be an ideal place for a Smartbike location.

I definitely agree, it'd be easy to go over to Adams Morgan or wherever for some errands and such, especially because cabs and buses can be somewhat hard to catch on 14th, and it can be tough to go east or west anyway.

I'll email DDOT and ask about it, so stay tuned.

20 comments:

Justin said...

Either there on across the street on the plaza would be ideal locations. Apparently, with 450 subscribers already, DDOT basically views it a success and plans to expand it shortly.
http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=596&sid=1463337

Bro. Nat said...

Smartbikes and other programs such commuter bike racks were to be implemented as part of the Columbia Heights Public Realm Program. Unfortunately, the CM sabotaged the effort. Now such efforts are at least 2 years from an an area that has probably has one the highest demands. In fact during the design phase CH was scheduled to model many innovations around multi-modal transportation. In planning for CH the residents work with ZGF.com which had done lots of creative work in Portland, Oregon which helped model many elements designed for CH. Further, approximately $5.0M was to be set-a-side from the DC USA financing package to fund these efforts. The CM allowed this funding to be stripped(traded-off) from the package. So now under great demand we are playing catch up.

Gina Grace said...

Great idea, but I think we first need to get more plain old bike racks for individually owned bikes in the area. It's currently much harder to park a bike than a car at DC USA, which seems silly and backwards. Yes, yes, I know this is DC, but not everything needs to be dysfunctional :)

Mr T in DC said...

Yes, please, we need SmartBikes in Columbia Heights! The ones on U Street are too long of a walk to make it convenient and useful, and we have such a density of development and population around the metro station, it would make sense.
There's no need to tie it in with the debacle of the delayed public realm plan, just bolt a rack down and move it around if necessary in the future to accomodate future construction. It doesn't need to cost $5 million. SmartBike would be wise to avoid traditional layers of DC bureaucracy if possible.

Brad said...

while you're at it, ask them to double the number of bike racks. they're always full (probably b/c of WSC)

Tim S said...

definitely needed!

Carylmarx said...

i agree with Gina: bike parking at dcusa is PATHETIC.

Bro. Nat said...

I'm trying to help layout, why Smartbikes and other features are not in place in CH, so we can understand what is necessary to correct the situation. This was not a case of DC bureaucracy failing us be a political decision made at the Ward level not to execute. While the DC bureacracy is often at fault, it is not so much the case here. The $5M is/was important because it allowed the support work to get done which would allow infrastructure work to get done in a timely manner allowing SmartBike and etc.

The design has to be done correctly so that bikes don't takeover the public space but compliments it.

There was even talk of adding racks to the DCUSA Parking Garage which is probably the next best step.

Many on DDOT staff has been great in positioning CH for this, the challenge as been at the political level and we are being force to pickup the pieces and settle for second and third best. We have to stop accepting this as OK.

TheSkyisFalling said...

Uh oh, William Jordan found this blog ... watch out!

Mr T in DC said...

Yes, bro.nat sounds like William Jordan to me, too.

Bro. Nat said...

I've known about the blog since it first launched. I only posted because the record needs to be made clearer. Bikes were a key part of planning for CH, we don't have a full complement of support for bikes not for lack a planning and effort, but when the Public Realm got sabotaged the bike amenities got sabotaged. It was not some nameless faceless bureaucrats that did this but two persons primarily CM Graham and the DDOT Director Tangherlini.

Initially there were no bike racks although called for in plans. Efforts for community dialogue and pro-active effort were truncated. Eventually WABA complained so DDOT just started dropping racks without regard for placement.

Don't worry, I won't post much here.

Dan said...

I'm all for Smartbikes and increased bike parking availability in CH, but I also am for more security around bike parking areas. I had my bike stolen (locked, and lock cut) a few months ago, the very same day they tore down the bike lockers on the SW corner of 14th and Irving. I've also had a policeman come into Pete's asking if some employee owned X bike as it was being stolen. It's a high traffic area which makes it very lucrative. I just hope there can be more done to reduce bike theft in the area.

Mr T in DC said...

bro.nat, no need to keep repeating your conspiracy theories; you've been spamming the CH Yahoo listserv with them for years and we're already painfully familiar with them.

Bro. Nat said...

I think the latest post affirms the general accuracy of information I share.

Another spot for extra bike racks would be for the second desk of the Tivoli/Giant lot also paid for with the creative use of public dollars. The challenge would be liability concerns. This public parking is a case CM Graham deserves credit for initiating.

The other sites are Highland Park and Keyon Square both of which have parking spaces available for public use to support their retail. These spaces could also support bike racks.

We have plenty of options to support bikes without cannibalizing pedestrian space. Many creative solutions are not in play because petty politics has minimized residents as partners in CH development. BTW, don't have to like what I have to say to put it to good use.

Also note a percentage of parking fines from the area are to be used to help pay for such innovations so paying for liability costs should not be a problem.

If you all can get Graham to stop treating transportation planning and development in CH like a step-child great. I only suggest using the plan developed as a guide when pushing for things so come together better in the end.

Mr T in DC said...

Wrong again, bro.nat. If you've ever actually parked a bike at a bike rack in a parking garage, you'll know it's far from ideal. My office has one, and I've used it. The problems are: (1) steep ramps and blind curves are dangerous to negotiate on a bike and (2) car exhaust trapped in the garage settles on the bikes while they're parked there, ruining your pants when you sit on the seat, and not very good for the bike either. The bikes would have to be somehow covered to keep the soot off them. It's better to just have the bike racks outside where they may get wet, but at least won't be covered with exhaust particulates. Are you even a regular bike rider or commuter?

Bro. Nat said...

We have long past idea with the poor stewadship of this process 4 years ago by the CM and Mr. Tangherlini. The goal is to make the best of our current situation given the multiple tradeoffs we are facing. Bikes have to share space with pedestrians and cars, share means everyone will have to give up something for the greater good.


I have no doubt the points you have raised can be easily addressed. First there are several locations which don't require navigating steep ramps,have elevators and are open air. An actual walk-thru would likely reveal other alternatives. Even in open situations bike seats get soiled and maybe bike or seat covers may be required. This is surely better than dropping bike racks willy-nilly.

No, I'm not regular bike commuter, but I ride and quasi-commute almost everyday in good weather. Never, said I had all the answers, but that CH has to resources to develop good answers if properly leveraged.

BTW, I'm not even sure investing in Smartbikes for CH should even be a priority at this time given our other needs. It's important that we see bike support in context with our other needs. This issue and others have been on the table at least since April, they just have not been acted on. When we brought this and related issues to the table at Mr. Graham's DDOT budget hearing, he told us, "the ship as sailed," although he had promised to meet with this community before then address this and related issues.

Again, if you guys can make headway great, but please get as informed as possible else other priorities will get undermined.

Mr T in DC said...

I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at - could you elaborate further please?

Bro. Nat said...

If you would please be more specific.

Mr T in DC said...

I'm just messing with you, bro.nat, poking a little fun at your reputation for excessive verbiage and repetition. ;)

Bro. Nat said...

You're right to give me a hard time on that, I just really hate to see my neighbors being mislead. I read the blogs and see folk grappling with issues we basically resolved years ago, only to have those solutions undermined. And now to have these same officials that undermined the resolutions say hey that's a good idea we'll look into it. WABA and cyclist had a major role in designing the CH Public Realm and Traffic Planning efforts.

Now the issue of support and state of small and local businesses in CH is on the table. Yet, I know officials sat on $2M to support these business and corridor for over 2 years. As well DDOT capital dollars withheld in lieu of other political manuvering. Yet, no one held accountable...

I probably just need to get over it.