Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker is in studio. And Aisha Braveboy, candidate for Prince George's State's Attorney, joins us.
Guest Host: Diane Vogel
The weather’s warming up for those who prefer to get around the Washington area on their bikes. New lanes and trails are making the streets safer for cyclists, and the Capital Bikeshare is expanding its footprint. Whether you’re a daily bike commuter or a weekend warrior, we’ve got tips on staying safe and having fun.
- Eric Gilliland General Manager, Capital Bikeshare
- Chris Eatough Program Manager for Bike Arlington
- Shane Farthing Executive Director, Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)
Capital Bikeshare Station Map
A map shows the locations of Capital Bikeshare stations around the Washington D.C. region:
MS. DIANE VOGELFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your community with the world. I'm Diane Vogel sitting in for Kojo. Coming up this hour, spring is finally here, and the weather is perfect for biking. Weekend warriors and weekday commuters are coming out of hibernation, and along with granny bikes and racing bikes, you'll spot the distinctive red Capital Bikeshare bicycles all along D.C. and throughout Arlington. As more people in our region take to two-wheel transportation, bike lanes are filling up, and pedestrians and cyclists are negotiating for sidewalk space. With so many bikes on the road, safety is an issue, and it's probably a good time for everyone to brush up on the rules of the road, bikers, motorists and pedestrians.
MS. DIANE VOGELJoining us for this discussion in studio with us are Eric Gilliland. Eric is the general manager of Capital Bikeshare. Thanks for being here, Eric.
MR. ERIC GILLILANDThanks for having me.
VOGELThanks. And next to Eric is Shane Farthing. Shane Farthing is the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. You might hear us call that WABA. Nice to meet you, Shane.
MR. SHANE FARTHINGNice to meet you.
VOGELAnd also with us is Chris Eatough. Chris is the program manager for Bike Arlington. Thanks for being here, Chris.
MR. CHRIS EATOUGHThank you, Diane. Hi.
VOGELExcellent. Well, it certainly is a gorgeous day, and so I have to start by asking, did one, two or all three of you get here by bicycle?
EATOUGHI think all of us use bikes at some part of our trip, but I think two of us -- two out of three are all-the-way bikers and one combine with transit.
FARTHINGWe won't say which one is which.
EATOUGHI'll admit it. I used one of the Capital Bikeshare bikes to get to the Metro.
VOGELThat's -- well, that's exactly the way this is supposed to work, right? It seems to me that a lot of our audience probably doesn't even know about the rules for bikes on Metro, both on buses and on the trains. So maybe one of you can start us of there because there are days when I see people riding bikes, and I think, uh-oh, what if it rains later? Uh-oh, what if they want to buy something big?
FARTHINGOh, sure. That's a great point, actually. It's good to have that flexibility so that you can bike for part of your commute and have that option to use Metro, use the bus. All of the buses in D.C. and in the area have the two or three racks on the front, and you can put your bike on the front of the bus at any time. On the Metrorail, you're allowed to use the -- to bring your bike on anywhere except for the center car entrances anytime, except for rush hour. So sometimes, there's a little bit of attention where folks want to actually come to work during rush hour, leave home -- leave work during the evening rush. You are going to have to work around those peak periods, but you are generally allowed to take your bike on Metro.
VOGELAnd from what I saw from looking at the notes, it's not as bad as all rush hour, right? It's like 7 to 10. So if you -- can you get on at like 6:30, yeah, so it seems okay to me. And do they charge on those buses for -- if you bring your bike?
FARTHINGIt's no different than the average fare.
VOGELSounds like a bargain. That was Eric -- Shane Farthing answering those questions. Shane is the executive director of WABA, the Washington Area Biking Association. You can join this conversation, ask questions about biking, tell us your favorite commuter route or the most dangerous intersection you face on your daily bike ride. The number is 1-800-433-8850. 1-800-433-8850. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's K-O-J-Oemail@example.com. So it doesn't seem to be -- it's not my imagination, right? Like biking seems to be growing and -- in popularity kind of leaps and bounds around here. Am I right? Am I wrong? Is it just build more bike lanes and they will come? What's going on?
GILLILANDWell, I like to think it's a little bit of everything. It's a kind of a chicken-and-eggs situation. You build bike lanes and trails, and you improve Metro access, and it will encourage more people to ride. But I think people are making that decision independent of what the roadway conditions are, and we're noticing with the wild success of Capital Bikeshare that a lot of people who hadn't previously given thought to commuting by bike are using it for errands or are starting to do so, so it's definitely up -- on the upswing.
VOGELAnd, Chris, in Arlington, I know that Capital Bikeshare just recently expanded into Arlington, and there are four new racks that just went up at -- in Rosslyn and a few other places. Tell us a little bit about Arlington's perspective on biking and the way you guys collaborate regionally on Capital Bikeshare.
EATOUGHYes. Arlington is -- was a part of Capital Bikeshare from the beginning. Actually, we started back in September 2010, and we got the vendor, Alta Bicycle Share, to run Capital Bikeshare. Then, D.C. joined in with the same vendor too because we knew we wanted a regional system with the same bike, same system, same membership, so that all started back in September 2010 when we launched. At the time, we had 14 stations in Arlington of the -- just over 100 stations total for Capital Bikeshare. And then, we recently expanded with four new stations in the Rosslyn area just last week, and we'll be expanding throughout that whole Rosslyn to Ballston corridor...
VOGELSo I understand and so the audience understands, when you say stations, do you mean Metro stations or do you mean locations where there are Capital bikes? Are they only at Metro stations or are they at other places as well?
EATOUGHSorry. Yes. I tend to use the word station for a Capital Bikeshare station, and some of them are right very close to Metro stations. That is a great location for them, but they've got it around all over the place. There's over 110 stations now through D.C. and Arlington, so there's a lot of them...
EATOUGH...110 Capital Bikeshare stations.
VOGELThe one that I noticed most recently was the one at Roosevelt Island. There's a -- right? They were putting on a Capital Bikeshare something.
EATOUGHThat might be something else.
VOGELOh, well, they were putting in bike racks. I guess, it was just a bike...
VOGEL...rack full of people using Capital Bikeshare bikes that they had picked up somewhere else.
GILLILANDThat actually has happened a lot. We noticed when we did the Cherry Blossom Festival valet last weekend that a huge number of the people that came, came to use WABA's valet, were coming on Capital Bikeshare bikes, so we had a few racks that were there that if you had just been coming by and looking at them, you would have thought it was a Capital Bikeshare station. We had 10 or 15 of them lined up at the same time.
VOGELThat's exactly it -- very funny. Well, let me start by inviting some of our audience to come in. Well, I wanted to involve a listener early in the conversation, and Chris had a comment that we could go to. Chris in Rockville, you're on the air.
CHRISHi. I just wanted to know how to protect the bikes better on the buses because my daughter had put her bike on the front of a bus, and, lo and behold, at a stop sign, it was stolen.
VOGELOh, my. Well, that's quite a story, and I don't know. I'm guessing that Metro does not cover that kind of thing, though, homeowners insurance or renters insurance might. Have either of you -- have of any of you heard of this problem at all, or does this seem random to you?
FARTHINGThat's the first time I've heard of that exact problem. I know a lot of thought went into how to design those racks that are on the front of the buses to make sure that they're secure and make sure that they're the right product to keep the bikes from falling off. I haven't heard the theft problem before, though, and I don't know that I have an answer for that.
VOGELAnd, Eric, you had something you wanted to say.
GILLILANDYeah. One thing that I used to do when I put my bike on the bus is actually lock the rear wheel to the frame, so at least if someone removes it from the bike rack on the bus, they can't use it as its own getaway vehicle so -- and also to, you know, stay -- try to stay towards the front of the bus and keep an eye on it.
VOGELWell, that's very good advice. Chris, I hope that works out for your daughter, and we will make sure that the next time we have a DDOT or Metro person on our show here at "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," we'll make sure to ask one of the bus transit people that question. Thanks so much, Chris. You're listening to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," sitting in for Kojo today. We're talking about biking in our region with Eric Gilliland, the general manager of Capital Bikeshare, Shane Farthing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Chris Eatough, the program manager for Bike Arlington and with you. Let's go with one more on Metro biking, and this is from Richard in Bethesda. Richard, you're on the air.
RICHARDHi. I use folding bikes on Metro and find that it's a very convenient way of getting around the Washington area, and I'm -- I didn't hear mentioned the policy about Metro on folding bikes. It allows you to...
VOGELIs -- does Metro have a different policy with regard to folding bikes? Are you -- Richard, do you know if -- Richard, if -- or are you asking our guests if there's a different policy?
RICHARDI'm asking your guests to discuss that. The policy is that folding bikes are allowed on Metrorail at any hour of the day and a discussion about that, and the utility of combining bikes and transit to make the trip from door to door competitive or even better than by car.
VOGELThank you so much, Richard. Yeah, that's a great topic. Do -- are you familiar with the folding bikes he's talking about -- and for those of us who aren't familiar with such commuter bikes, maybe you can give a sentence or two about what they look like and how much they -- are they heavy? How do you fold a bike?
FARTHINGSure. There are a few different versions of them now, and they tend to have slightly smaller wheels in some cases, but some of them have actually become looking more and more like regular bikes, but they do fold up into a smaller package. And Metro just requires that they be placed in a bag. I think the concern is just that they not have grease exposed, that sort of thing. So as long as you can fit it in a bag and carry it onto Metro or wheel it onto Metro, it's allowed at all hours, and it is a great option. It's great to have that as part of a multimodal commute. Like I said, I came here by using a Capital Bikeshare bike to the Metro, and it's a way to expand how far you can cover by bike and by Metro. It's another option. If you live a bit away from a bus stop or from a Metro station, it's a way to make that first or last, you know, half mile, mile of your trip easier for you. So it's a great option, and it's great that Metro has a separate policy that welcomes folding bikes on board.
VOGELTerrific. Now, Chris and Eric, I think either one of you is probably good to answer this. I know we've now got Capital Bikeshare in D.C. and in Arlington, and I know it's a work in progress. You're growing as you go. But people in Fairfax, people in Alexandria are probably saying, yeah, great for those guys in Arlington and D.C., but what about me? I want to get to the Vienna Metro this way, or I want to get to Fairfax. I know that the conversations around Tysons Corner, one of the most important things is this multimodal approach because there won't be a lot of parking at the Tysons Corner Metro. Are plans in place to expand Capital Bikeshare beyond where it is, and what can we expect in the next year or two...
GILLILANDIt's difficult to say what we can expect in the next year. There's certainly a lot of interest around the D.C. area. We've been fielding some questions from Montgomery County and Alexandria and really throughout the D.C. area. It would be a challenge for the system. It is kind of focused in the D.C. and Arlington area, but I think what we might be looking at are sort of micro systems out in Tysons Corner, for example, or Rockville, for example, to really bring the benefits of bike sharing to a greater number of people in the D.C. area.
VOGELAnd I'm wondering with Arlington, there are five bridges that connect Arlington to D.C., but for most of us, you know, the bridges are a mess of cars and smog and everything else, and the idea of riding a bike across one of those bridges seems pretty intimidating to most people, I'm guessing. Can you speak to that at all?
EATOUGHActually, the bridges are very bike friendly. Just about all those bridges have bike and pedestrian paths on the sides of the bridges away from traffic so you're in a protected area. I ride across the Key Bridge every day and, you know, very easy, very pleasant, and many people do that already. So the bridges, you know, the connection between D.C. and Arlington is actually very easy by bike.
FARTHINGYou make an excellent point, though. I think the -- the sort of infrastructure that allows you to cross the rivers is very important, and the ones, as Chris says, to Arlington are very good. I think it's worth noting that the -- some of the other bridges that are coming online, some of the connections across the Anacostia River, are being designed right now and we need to make sure that those are that bike-friendly as well, so that as the system picks up, we can have that sort of connectivity in both directions.
VOGELThat's a really good point. And I know that right now, the areas across the river, are they served at all by Capital Bikeshare or not yet?
GILLILANDWe do have stations across the river in Anacostia, so it's -- we -- and possible -- there are possible locations for expansion there when we start exploring that later this year.
VOGELWell, one of the things that I would encourage people, I know I learned from WAMU, from working here, was that Ward 8 is the greenest ward in the city and has some of the best parkland. And I have bike road down there, and I highly recommend it. See some of the best wildlife, nature, eagles and other wonderful things along the trails there. You're listening to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of the show, sitting in for Kojo today. We're taking your phone calls at 1-800-433-8850.
VOGELYou can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're gonna take a short break, and we'll be back to talking about regional biking with Eric Gilliland of Capital Bikeshare, Shane Farthing of the Washington Area Biking Association -- Bicyclist Association and Chris Eatough from Bike Arlington. We'll be back after this short break.
VOGELWelcome back to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of the show, sitting in for Kojo. We're talking regional biking with Eric Gilliland, the general manager for Capital Bikeshare, Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Chris Eatough, the program manager for Bike Arlington. I started this conversation by asking you if biking was increasing, you know, or whether it was my imagination. I understand you have stats to show just how many people are biking these days.
GILLILANDWell, I have some stats on the number of trips that have been made by Capital Bikeshare members.
GILLILANDIt's absolutely phenomenal. Since our launch on September 28th of last year, we've had over 315,000 trips. That's 315,000. It's absolutely an incredible number. Right now, we have over 10,000 annual members and are averaging about 3,500 trips a day, and that seems to increase…
VOGELWow. 3,500 trips a day.
GILLILANDYeah. And it's increasing as the weather gets nicer. So it's really been a fantastic program so far, and it's only getting better.
VOGELAnd I'm gonna slow you down and make you back up or backpedal for a moment, which is, for those who don't know about Capital Bikeshare, let's explain the basics, how you join, what you do, how -- what it costs, because it sounds a little intimidating from the outset, but it doesn't seem to be once you learn a little bit about it.
GILLILANDOnce you learn a little bit, it's an extremely easy system. Capital Bikeshare is really a new type of transit system. All this information I'll talk about can be found on our website at capitalbikeshare.com.
VOGELAnd that is linked from email@example.com, as is the WABA is linked and Bike Arlington program and so on.
GILLILANDRight. So, really, it's a pretty easy system to use. We have a variety of different types of memberships, anything from annually to daily. Daily members can -- and casual users can just sign up to rent a bike at any of the 110 plus stations that we have throughout the D.C. area. Annual membership is 70 -- I'm sorry, $75 a year. You get, with that, a key that plugs in to all the stations that we have. You just use that to rent a bike. The first half hour is free. And we've noticed that the overwhelming majority of the trips that we're seeing are very short trips within that half hour.
VOGELOh, so wait. Let's pull that back for a moment so I understand that. So you pay a $75 fee, one annually, and you can pay that at -- do you have to plan that in advance? Or can I pay that at one of the locations when I'm renting a bike for the first time?
GILLILANDThe year memberships have to be done through our website, like I said, capitalbikeshare.com. But other types of memberships and -- we have one-day memberships, five-day memberships and monthly memberships.
GILLILANDThose can all be done through the website or through the stations themselves.
VOGELOkay. So I go with my credit card to -- if I haven't signed up, I can sign up on the Web. If I go with my credit card to one of the Bikeshare stations, what do I do? And how do I get a bike? And how much is it gonna cost me to take a, you know, a 45-minute ride? How much is it gonna take -- cost me to take the bike out for eight hours?
GILLILANDWell, it's pretty simple. You go to any of the stations. You swipe your card. A series of very easy to follow prompts. You choose the membership type that you want, whether it's a single day, five-day or 30-day membership. The machine will give you a code, either printed or on the screen, which you type in to one of the bike docks, and you pick up the bike, and you're good to go.
VOGELAnd what if the bike has -- is not working? Do you guys do maintenance on them regularly? How do you know that the chain is working? What if you take out one and the chain is broken?
GILLILANDWell, we do have a fantastic team of, what we call, bike checkers that are out every day, checking all the bikes for, you know, make sure the breaks are working, that tires are inflated, that, you know, the chain is on, the pedals are on, the basic stuff. We really take pride in maintaining a very good fleet. If there is a problem, and this is something that some of the Capital Bikeshare members might not know, if you notice a problem with the bike, there is a button on each dock that will lock that bike in place, and it alerts us that there is a problem.
GILLILANDAnd you can also do your fellow members a favor by turning the bike seat around just so they know not to try to take that one. And, actually, I was just told that the monthly memberships is only done online or through the call center so you can't sign up for that at the kiosk itself.
VOGELGot you. So just the day or the five-day. I also understand, Chris, that you have counters in Arlington that are telling you how many people are using these. What are you finding in Arlington?
EATOUGHWell, we've started a fairly extensive trail counting and actually on road now, as well, counting of cyclists. And this is not just for Capital Bikeshare. This is for any cyclist. So we have these -- for a lot of years, we've done manual counts now and again, where people will go out and count bicyclists on a couple of days a year, and that's gives you some information. But, of course, it's very weather dependent. If it happens to be raining on that day, you get really low numbers. If it's nice on that day, you get high numbers.
EATOUGHSo we wanted a consistent automated system. So we have automatic counters now, and we've had two of these out on our trails for about 18 months on -- this is on the Custis Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail, which are off-street pedestrian and bicycle facilities. And we're seeing, you know, very large numbers, up to 1,500 cyclists a day on the Custis Trail just on -- again, not necessarily Capital Bikeshare. These are just cyclists on their own bikes or on Capital Bikeshare bikes.
EATOUGHSo that's, you know, around 40,000 cyclists a month just on this one trail. And that's -- there's many of these around Arlington and many other bike lanes and other bike facilities there have high numbers also on a daily basis.
VOGELAnd some of those people wouldn't -- some will be Arlington residents, but some will be people coming from further out as well, right?
EATOUGHSure. Some are passing through. I mean, we get cyclists that are coming through from Fairfax County that might work in the District, and they actually come through Arlington on the trails a lot of times, on the W&OD Trail and the Custis Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail. Some of them could be Arlington residents. They're, you know, a wide variety. And we do see it's -- the patterns follow a commuting-type pattern where we have peaks in the morning and peaks in the afternoon, which shows that, you know, these are not people necessarily out recreating.
EATOUGHFor joyrides. You know, when the numbers are high and the peaks are in the morning and the afternoon, that shows that these -- commuters coming in and then going home, so they're actually being used as commuting facilities, which is great, because it's keeping people off the roads and, you know, helping cut down on congestion and dependence on automobiles.
VOGELThat's Chris Eatough, the program manager for Bike Arlington. We're talking with him and Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Eric Gilliland, general manager of Capital Bikeshare, about biking in our region on this beautiful spring day. I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," sitting in for Kojo. And you can join the conversation, 1-800-433-8850 or tweet us, @kojoshow. We're gonna go to Jessie in Columbia Heights. Jessie, you're on the air.
JESSIEHey. This is a question for Eric. So I just joined Capital Bikeshare with the Living Social deal. I'm so excited, got my key on Friday and I've used the service six times already. But I have a question about uphill biking, because, obviously, our topography poses a problem for Capital Bikeshare in that people come down out of places like Columbia Heights and then they don't come back up with bikes. And I noticed that JB redistributes the bikes, but I wonder if there's any sort of incentivizing program you guys are considering or how you're evaluating possibly dealing with that problem. And I'll take my answer off the air.
VOGELGreat question, Jessie. Thanks.
GILLILANDYeah, thanks for the call. The re-balancing of bikes is probably the toughest thing that we do each day. We've got a great team that is dedicated exclusively to shuffling bikes around, because you're right. Due to the topography here, a lot of things just flow downhill and we need to -- a lot of them are, at the end of the day, brought back uphill. That's true. But we're actually talking about a way to incentivize, sort of, the counterflow trips in the morning. I haven't come up with anything yet, but we're more than welcome to hear any ideas you have. We've got a great Facebook page where we accept comments, so I just urge you to send us your thoughts.
VOGELAnd I would urge everybody, they can call now with some suggestions if you can think of a good way to incentivize people to ride back up the hills in D.C., not just downhill. You can call us at 1-800-433-8850. One person who takes a serious bike ride each morning, I understand, is Chris. You ride, I understand, every day from Silver Spring to Arlington?
EATOUGHSure. Yeah, it sounds like a big deal, but it really isn't that bad. It takes me about 40 minutes. There's a great trail route on the Capital Crescent Trail, it takes me down towards Georgetown, and then I get on the bike path across the Key Bridge, and I go to work in Rosslyn. Some days, I like to actually go on the streets. I kind of like the interaction and riding through villages and riding through urban areas. So my street ride actually takes me by the studios here and near the...
EATOUGHIn Tenleytown. And, you know, like I said, finding some nice, pleasant streets to ride on and going a fairly direct way than if I go on the roads. It takes me about 40 minutes, which is probably less than it would take if I was driving from Silver Spring to Rosslyn each day.
VOGELI think that's probably a good bet. I'm wondering if you have along your route, one or two intersections that -- I know you're in charge of bicycling in Arlington...
VOGEL...but perhaps you could say, hey, Mr. DDOT, or hey, Metro, this is a place you need to pay attention. What's the most dangerous one or two intersections that you pass? And I'll ask that to all of you.
EATOUGHIt's actually not too bad, but some of the areas in Georgetown are tricky. Georgetown is very narrow and kind of condensed. There isn't a whole lot of space for everyone to interact, so that can get a little bit hectic, just riding through Georgetown. And then the one up in this, kind of, Northwestern area is Chevy Chase Circle. I do ride around that circle from time to time.
GILLILANDAnd that's a bit of hold-your-breath and stay alert moment in the morning.
VOGEL(laugh) I would bet that is. How about you, Shane?
FARTHINGWell, before I get to my commute, I'd like to mention something that Chris raised about his. He's talking about the Capital Crescent Trail and how great a facility that is. And I just wanna mention that there's a real push now to make sure that that whole thing gets completed and paved, so that you are actually able to ride any type of bike from the Silver Spring portion or the Bethesda portion, because right now, the Silver Spring to Bethesda part is a gravel trail and then it becomes a paved trail...
FARTHING...from Bethesda and to Georgetown. So it's certainly passable, but a little -- a quick plug. WABA will be out this Saturday on the Capital Crescent Trail, talking about the opportunities for completing that and finishing that entire project, so that it links up the full way to Silver Spring and then back into Union Station as the Metropolitan Branch Trail is complicated.
VOGEL(unintelligible). And anyone who comes by or if you come by, what, the first 100 people, first 1,000 people, I understand you're giving away free bike bells?
FARTHINGFirst 100 or so, yeah...
FARTHING...while supplies last. But it is a rule in D.C. that your bike have a bell. And it's always a good idea when you're on a trail to have a way to give warning as you pass, so it's just a sort of a kick off to spring, everyone share the trails. We're gonna be giving out bells to cyclists.
VOGELGreat idea. Right. We'll go back to the telephones for a moment. I know that is a question a lot of people have about the Capital Bikeshare program. Nasser, you're in Washington, D.C., you're on the air. Nasser?
NASSERThanks. My question is I ride -- I mean, I drive to D.C. every day, and I see a lot of people riding the bikes, which is good program. And the only thing that I have noticed that none of them are wearing helmets, especially the new beginners. I know the Capital -- the one with the red bikes -- I'm sorry, I forgot the name, Capital something -- they do...
NASSERYes, right. They do rent bikes, but they do not offer helmets. Is there any incentive of wearing people helmets or are you gonna rent some helmets with these bikes? I would take my answer off the air.
GILLILANDThe helmet issue is certainly a challenge. What we tried to do, the Capital Bikeshare has encouraged helmet use. Safety is really our number one concern. We wanna make sure that our members, when they're out there, are not only enjoying themselves, but also being safe while they do so. So in addition to the general inspections of the bikes that we do to make sure that those are safe, we do try to promote helmet use through everything we do. Our station kiosks all include information about where to buy -- the near -- where to buy a helmet in that area.
GILLILANDCapital Bikeshare members get discounts at local bike shops. We disseminate safety information to our members as provided by WABA in addition to advertising the Confident City Cycling classes that they do. So, really, if you're a Capital Bikeshare member and you're using the program frequently, we just urge you to carry a helmet with you.
VOGELAnd is there a reason why helmets aren't provided? Is it because you're afraid they'll be stolen? Is it because of a hygienic reason? Is it because something else? I don't know. Is there a way to lock a helmet to the bike, so that somebody could take it off?
GILLILANDWell, I think there are a lot of challenges. Hygiene is certainly one of them. Theft is another. We're exploring some ideas. There have been kiosks established in Melbourne, Australia where we also run a system to sell helmets because there is a mandatory helmet law there for all ages, not just kids. But again, it's, from our standpoint, it's really encouragement. We just -- and education. We just try to educate people as to the benefits of helmet use and encourage them to wear them.
VOGELYou're listening to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." I'm Diane Vogel, sitting in for Kojo. And we're talking with -- we're talking about biking in our region. That was Eric Gilliland of Capital Bikeshare. Also in the studio with us, Shane Farthing of WABA, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Chris Eatough of Bike Arlington. Shane, I'm wondering if the safety issues are big for you at WABA, and if you can help us understand the first time you're going out as a bicyclist to, you know, not be on a trail, not be in some protected area, what are some of the most common -- or what are the rules besides stay alert and don't get hit by car door or by, you know, wear something bright?
VOGELYou probably have a couple of other rules.
FARTHINGThose are absolutely big ones. And I think that's -- the main thing is just to ensure that you're confident, ensure that you are riding as much like a vehicle as you can. As long as you are sharing the roadway and sharing the space, you're gonna be more predictable, you're gonna interact better with the other users of the roadway if you're all following the same rules. So we teach classes at WABA and Confident City Cycling at various levels on how to share the roadway safely.
FARTHINGAnd I think the one that you mentioned there is actually probably the most important for new riders, is to not get hit by a car door. I think a lot of folks are nervous about the cars passing them to their left, so they move all the way over as far to the right as they can. And I think, in some ways, that's the sort of misconception of being a new cyclist. It's important to actually ride a little further over -- outside of the door zone, so that you can travel more safely.
GILLILANDJust to follow up on what Shane was saying, I think we are seeing that a lot of people are using Capital Bikeshare as a gateway drug, (laugh) where it's a good way to start by commuting. The bikes are extremely safe, very stable. They're upright, so you can have good view of the road around you. You know, obviously, trying to educate people as to their rights and responsibilities, how to keep themselves safe is important. But one of the statistics that we have -- and this is pretty amazing -- of those 320,000 trips that we mentioned, there have only been six reported crashes, which is actually quite amazing.
GILLILANDAnd we obviously, you know, like any crashes is one too many, but we'll just continue to work and be proactive and just make sure everyone is safe as possible.
VOGELI wanted to read you two email that we got, and I'm gonna ask you to think about them during the break, and we'll come back and answer them on the other side of this break. The first email is from Linda, who asks, "If there is a bike path, must it be used? I live off River Road in Potomac and there are often lines of bikers slowing traffic down when there is a perfectly good bike path they could outside of the traffic lanes." The other email is from TJ, and he says, "As a bike commuter," -- or she. I didn't mean to assume TJ is a woman. "As a bike commuter, I've been pleased to see an increase in the 'official bike lanes.'"
VOGEL"However, my family and I, including our young kids, have nearly been hit on multiple occasions by motorists using or swerving into bike lanes. Cars often use them as turn lanes and occasionally as additional traffic lanes if the road's wide enough. I've also seen motorized scooters use them and motorcycles. But the most important thing I've never seen, I've never seen police enforce bike lane restrictions. So what can we do to sensitize police to these restrictions?"
VOGELSo we'll be talking rules of the road, bike safety, both for bikers and cars, what are the rights, what are the wrongs, when we come back from this break. I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," sitting in for Kojo. Thanks for listening. We'll be right back.
VOGELWelcome back to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of the show, sitting in for Kojo. We're talking biking in this region and we're talking about things that bicyclists, pedestrians, drivers, walkers, skaters, kids, dogs, everybody has to be aware of since there are more and more bikes out on the roads everywhere. Right before the break, I asked you guys to think about the answers to two questions. The first was about whether -- Linda had asked, if there is a bike path, must it be used? She said she lived -- she lives off River Road in Potomac and often sees lines of bikers slowing the traffic down when there's a perfectly good bike path that is separate from the traffic that they could be using. The answer for Linda?
FARTHINGLinda, I think the answer on River Road is that cyclists should be using, by law, the bike path that's available there. I think that the thing to highlight is that that's not the same answer throughout the region. In D.C., in Virginia, a cyclist has the option to use the travel lanes in the road or the bike path. But in Maryland, with a few exceptions, a cyclist does have to use a bike facility if it's provided. Now, I think the thing to remember, though, is that that's a training route, a frequent training route for a lot of higher-speed cyclists.
FARTHINGAnd given the quality of the facility that's there, I think many people might be making the decision to use the roadway instead so that they're not interacting with either less experienced cyclists or children or folks walking with strollers. So the law does say that they should be using, in Maryland, the bike path, but I think sometimes, for safety reasons, folks will make a different decision.
VOGELSo, Linda, if you need to make a citizen's arrest, you know, or a citizen's citation, you can. But in general, the rule is so Maryland, you do have to use a bike path if it's available. D.C. and Virginia, mostly not.
EATOUGHI believe there is an exception for MacArthur Boulevard, though.
VOGELVery good. We're talking with Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Eric Gilliland, the general manager of Capital Bikeshare, and Chris Eatough, the program manager for Bike Arlington. The other question we asked before the break was about enforcing bicycle lane restrictions. The bike commuter, TJ, says that -- he or she -- often sees motorists using bike lanes or swerving into them, but that she never sees police enforcing those restrictions.
FARTHINGThat is a huge problem, and it's something that I've focused on a lot at WABA over the past few months. We actually had a hearing with Councilmember Mendelson and the Judiciary Committee about, specifically, enforcement of bike and pedestrian rules. And we are still working with Councilmember Mendelson and Councilmember Wells, especially, on how to get some improvement there. So there are some things that can be done to help from a facility standpoint.
FARTHINGJust last week, the Federal Highway Administration announced that it is now approved to use green pavement in bike lanes, and it was shown in their studies that both cyclist and motorist were more aware of the bike lane and respected it more if it was color-coded like that. So I think that's a good thing for the next step forward of our facilities to try and make it more obvious. But I do think that there is a major issue of police not knowing or enforcing properly laws applicable to cyclists, and we have a lot of work to do on that.
FARTHINGI know that DDOT is working on a training module that is an online training that will go to every police officer. I can't say that I've seen it yet, but I know that it's on the way and I know that the folks in DDOT are working hard to get it out there and get it out quickly to everyone, so hopefully that will be another training element. But I do think there are some legal changes that are needed, and I think we may have gotten to the point where some of our facilities have gotten ahead of our enforcement capacity, and it is time for the police to step up and for councilmembers to hold them accountable for doing their job and equally enforcing the laws to keep cyclists and pedestrians as safe as motorists on the roadway.
VOGELThat being said, I can hear every driver yelling at their radio right now, saying, but what about the bicyclist who goes through the red lights and through the stop signs? What about the bicyclist that don't follow the rules of the road? How are you gonna be ticketing me, the driver, if I'm being, you know, as respectful as possible, but I had to turn right here and cross over into a bike lane when we see there are bicyclists who flout the laws every day?
FARTHINGWell, I did say enforce it equally, and that's our position at WABA is we believe that cyclists and pedestrians and everyone using the road should be using it safely and predictably as well. So we certainly don't wanna see any mode targeted. We wanna see equal enforcement of the rules of the road.
VOGELAnd I -- we're gonna turn to the phones again. Shawn in Washington. You're on the air, Shawn.
SHAWNYeah. Hi. Thanks. I have two quick things. First of all, big kudos to the District Department of Transportation for setting this up. I lived in Paris from '07 to '09 and I had a Velib membership, and it was phenomenal. And, you know, for whatever reason, I'm guessing financing, we're nowhere near as extensive as Velib is, but I understand you're trying to get there, so good for you. The answer, I think, to TJ and this issue with enforcement is cops on bikes. I mean, I don't understand -- if we put a fraction of the resources that we put into traffic enforcement, revenue collection from meters into cops on bikes, you would have the enforcement issue solved.
SHAWNAnd you're gonna see, I predict, an explosion in accidents as this gains popularity and as the weather gets better. But the answer is not educating cops in cars on the rules of the road. The answer is putting the cops on bikes, and they'll see the violations, both of the cyclists and the drivers. The other thing is I'm really disappointed that -- I understand Arlington was in on it from the get-go. But this is Capital Bikeshare, and you can't underestimate the social cohesion factor of having this network of bike stations connected. So I was really disappointed that you're expanding more and more into Arlington when so much of the District doesn't have any bikes.
SHAWNAnd, you know, without getting into politically incorrect territory, it seems that a lot of the underserved parts of the District are lower socioeconomic status, and that's really unfortunate. I mean, my library has no Bikeshare station.
VOGELWhich library is that, Shawn?
SHAWNThe Shaw Library. Shaw.
SHAWNAnd there's nothing anywhere near there. And I understand you're expanding slowly. Fine. But, you know, the idea of this network is, as I'm sure you know, conceptually, is you wanna link the stations together. And the further you go out into the suburbs, which is all fine and well for them, the more you leave behind the District. And then the other thing I wanted to -- sorry. Go ahead.
VOGELNo. I was gonna give us an opportunity -- give you guys an opportunity, either Eric or Chris, to respond to that first question about the expansion into Arlington, and the expansion across the river.
EATOUGHSure. On the expansion into Arlington, the funding -- the capital funding sources are separate for station -- for Capital Bikeshare stations in D.C. and Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington. So it's not that D.C. government is spending money putting Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington. Arlington is funding those -- funding that capital for those stations. So they don't transfer. I know DDOT is -- D.C. is trying very hard to cover the whole of D.C. And in Arlington, we're starting to expand and cover more areas also. It's gonna take a little time to build it out. We can't cover the whole county instantly. But, you know, the capital funding is different.
VOGELYeah. In fact, I know that there's -- I know that in Arlington, South Arlington, which is often considered one of the more underdeveloped areas or less accessible areas, since the Metro doesn't run there, is also a place where people are clamoring to have Capital Bikeshare expand to.
EATOUGHSure. And Arlington County would like to bring it to those areas. And there are fairly bike-friendly areas down there, too, so it would be a good fit.
GILLILANDYeah. I would just -- Shawn, I would encourage you to go to the DDOT website. They just put out there a list of proposed stations for the expansion. And your comments are certainly welcome. One thing that I would add is that the idea of linking the stations together is certainly good, but we also want a dense system that sort of grows sort of outward from the core. We will get there eventually. Funding is sometimes a challenge, but I think the popularity of the system is going to help that. But, again, we do have a Facebook page. And if you have comments like this, please send them our way just so we can keep track.
VOGELAnd, Shawn, I apologize. Earlier, we were talking about Shaw. You were talking about being in Shaw, and I mentioned across the river. So I will ask, Shaw is right by the, you know, the new -- the convention center and all of that. Are there Bikeshare locations there? He said there's not one near his library. But are there D.C…?
GILLILANDThere are a few stations over there. I'm not sure -- I guess he's talking about the new library on Rhode Island Avenue. So...
GILLILANDOkay. Yeah. That's certainly -- I believe that there are maybe four proposed stations for the Shaw area in DDOT's list.
GILLILANDSo I would, again, check that out. They have a full map online. Send your comments and encourage your neighbors to send theirs as well to essentially vote for stations where you are.
VOGELAnd thanks so much for calling, Shawn. The website that he was talking about is the Capital Bikeshare website. You can get there by linking from wamu.org or kojoshow.org and click on Capital Bikeshare. I'm Diane Vogel, sitting in for Kojo today. And I wanted to get to a couple more email from our listeners. The first was a suggestion for Capital Bikeshare, and they said, "Here's an idea for an uphill solution. An idea to redistribute the capital bikes would be, how about giving a 50 cent credit for each trip taken up a major hill? The more taken, the more money you get off your yearly membership."
GILLILANDI think that's a fantastic idea. I'm a fan of free doughnuts. So if you're riding one of those heavy Capital Bikeshare bikes up Wisconsin Avenue, you deserve something.
VOGEL(laugh) I love the idea. Another question here that any of you -- but I think, really, Shane, this is right in your ballpark -- "When I used to work in D.C., I always wanted to commute by bike from Virginia. But I never felt safe bringing my kids in the bike trailer. So what are -- to drop them off at daycare and otherwise. What are your safety tips for biking with kids, and is it different for recreational biking versus commuter biking?"
FARTHINGI don't think there's anything that you do that much different. I think the key is visibility for the trailer, though. I think that it's something that not all drivers are expecting to see there. So make sure that you have the flag extended on the back, and that you have something to make it very clear that you have a child back there. And then you would ride as safely as you can as a commuter. Nothing too different.
VOGELMm-hmm. All right. Let's go to one more call. And I'm gonna ask, let's see, Phil in Falls Church, Va. Phil, you're on the air.
PHILHi. Thanks for the show. My question is about public safety education for -- primarily for drivers. I commute in about 40 minutes from Virginia to D.C., and I use the W&OD Trail. And around Falls Church, there's been questions about the cross -- you know, the crosswalks and cars generally not stopping. I think -- I mean, one big issue is that bikes have a peculiar status in the law. They are vehicles in Virginia, and they can be on the road. They can take the lane, and that's sort of something that, I think, most drivers don't understand.
PHILThey want -- they yell at you to get on the sidewalk or whatever. And then, on the other hand, bikes can ride on the sidewalk in Virginia, and they can ride in every crosswalk in Virginia, unless it's posted otherwise. And when they do that, they have the same rights as pedestrians. You don't have to walk your bike through a crosswalk. You can ride it. And people don't think that's legal either. And so they yell at you for that and they don't stop because they don't think you have, you know, you have the right-of-way.
PHILSo I'm wondering what sort of -- I think a lot of bikers misunderstand these rules, too, and I thought the question about River Road was interesting. I didn't realize that that was the case in Maryland. So there's -- you know, it's very different, especially in an area like this where you have -- we have three major jurisdictions that might have different laws. So I'm wondering what kinds of efforts, maybe especially WABA and Chris -- in Arlington there, what sorts of, I guess, public education efforts are going on.
VOGELAll right. I'm gonna speed us up 'cause we're...
VOGEL…running short on time. Chris, if you can answer first, and then maybe Shane if we have time.
EATOUGHOne of the new facilities we have in Arlington -- and D.C. has them as well -- is sharrows. We call them sharrows. They are shared arrow markings. And it's basically a share-of-the-road marking that's on the street. You might have seen them. There's like two chevron-shaped arrow painted marks on the road with a bicycle symbol. And that is expressing just that, that the bicycle has the right to take the lane and share the road. So that is one advancement. But certainly more education for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians is always good. And a lot of times it comes from the state level, so it's a little -- it can take a while. But I agree that we need more of that.
VOGELWell, thanks so much, Phil, for calling. Thank you Chris. And this hour just flew on by. Chris Eatough is the program manager for Bike Arlington. Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association or WABA. And Eric Gilliland is the general manager for Capital Bikeshare. I thank you all for joining me. I'm gonna give a plug to -- I believe it's WABA who creates the maps, but I'm not sure. There are -- but I know that WABA gives them out.
VOGELThere are absolutely great biking maps on WABA's website, and each of the local counties, I know, have bike maps that show the trails. So if you never thought about biking from your home to your work or to the daycare center, think about it. And you've been listening to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show." I'm Diane Vogel, managing producer of the show, sitting in for Kojo. We'll be back. Thank you so much for joining us.
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