Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bikes a Hit at Inauguration

Sounds like the bicycle valet at President Obama's inauguration was a big success. According to a post on the D.C. blog WashCycle, about 1,000 bikes were parked at each of the two ad hoc stations set up by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Another blogger remarked that the scene reminded him of Amsterdam, but with better bikes (thus sparking arguments of whether high-tech, sports-style bikes are, indeed, better than the old-school, granny bikes prevalent in northern Europe).

Looking over the post-event press, it sounds like biking and walking were truly the best ways of negotiating the crowds. Car parking was non-existent and the city's metro system was completely overwhelmed. And at a certain point, the bridges connecting D.C. to Virginia were closed down, with the only exeptions being for special vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. I saw one Twitter comment from a guy who walked all the way from the National Mall to the Reagan National Airport on foot, after giving up on the long queue at the metro.

Another bike-related observation on the inauguration: Security for the exiting motorcade included some local cops on bicycles. On TV it looked like the perfect modal choice, fast enough to keep pace with the lumbering limousines, but manueverable enough to cut around the huge crowds gathered along the route.

Although I concur with the generally rave reviews of Obama's inaugural address (including by Ronald Reagan's speech writer Mary Matalin), I have to point out that he DID NOT mention bicycles. I suppose we can't expect a specially wrapped bone for each and every constituency, but still ... he had a golden opportunity in his call for greater use of renewable energies ("We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil ... .") This would have been the perfect opportunity to mention legs and feet, which of course are much, much more efficient than an econo-car of any type will ever be.

On the bright side, we finally have a president in office who will listen to these arguments.


Char said...

Hi - I'm a bike commuter who lives in the Washington, DC area. :) I biked to the Inauguration last week, and it was the BEST and easiest way to get to and from. :) I did stop by the bike valet that WABA offered (at the Jefferson Memorial site), but there was a long line to check your bike in, so I decided to just lock it nearby and walk to the Mall. Biking in D.C. is great because it's a relatively small city and you can get around great on the bike paths, and have the subway and buses available too.

I was in Budapest this past September - on a bike tour on the Danube River, and we spent a day or two in Budapest - - what a lovely city! :) :) I will enjoy reading your blog! Keep up the great work and keep on riding! :)


Greg Spencer said...

Thanks for the insights, Charmaine. I've visited D.C. a couple of times and actually found it similar to Budapest in some ways. The buildings are of a comfortable human scale -- no skyscrapers downtown -- and there's a good metro system. Those are rare qualities for an American city.