Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Born-again biker

Satisfied customer!
Here's a story about how bike-sharing is a terrific enhancement of public transport -- one that works for all kinds of people. I have a friend, Charlie Szabo, who was born and raised in Budapest, but now lives in Washington D.C. His main mode of local transport -- in Budapest and in D.C. -- has always been public transport.

However, in recent years he's been frustrated with the standard of D.C.'s system. It has no trams (although there's a plan afoot to reintroduce them) and the metro system is often broken down, unreliable or worse. Charlie says the escalators hardly ever work, which made me think of the escalator at the Margit hid HEV stop, but Charlie assures me it's a more pervasive, chronic problem there.

Charlie's deliverance from sub-par mass transit came in the form of a bike-sharing service. D.C. first launched bike sharing on an experimental basis back in 2008 with a token fleet of 120 bikes and 10 docking points. Despite the limited utility of the system, thousands of people jumped on board. Emboldened by the positive response, the neighbouring jurisdictions of Washington DC and Arlington, Virginia jointly launched a full-scale public bike system in 2010 called Capital Bikeshare ("CaBi" for short). The system now has 1,200 bikes and 140 stations around the metro area.

Until recently, Charlie has not been super active and he admitted to me that, aside from a pedal-powered beer run last summer at  Balaton, he had not ridden a bicycle in more than 20 years. But Capital Bikeshare proved too good to pass up. He lives pretty close to the centre of things and says the service is very convenient for his transport needs. Here's what he told me about it:
Happy to report that i just signed up for capitalbikeshare, and loving it!! It's been around for about a year, and new bike racks are popping up in DC and Arlington and Pentagon City just about every couple weeks. It costs $ 75 for a year and the first 30 minutes is free, but you get another 30 if you plug it in and take it out again. It really cuts down on bus fare and saves a lot of time and i might even get in shape for bikini season, too!! 
This is the most encouraging endorsement I've ever seen on bike sharing. Awesome!

1 comment:

Chris said...
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