I recently took a trip to Washington DC for the first time and I wanted to see as many of the monuments as I could in a day, since my trip wasn’t very long. My options were to:
- Tour Bus it
Walking would take way too long and I’d be way too tired to go out in the evening. And tour bus? I’m not about to pay $30 to hang out and take pictures with senior citizens.
Luckily, while I was walking around the town I noticed bike racks that had 10-15 of the same bikes locked into them. I knew I had found my mode of transportation. The company in Washington DC is called capital bikeshare but there are many of these types of companies popping up in major cities around the world. These companies set up multiple bike racks all throughout the city (seen below) and once you check out a bike you can lock it up at any other station in the city when you are done using it (as long as there are open spaces in the racks).
The service is slightly confusing as a first timer so I’ll explain the process to eliminate any issues.
- Insert your credit card into the machine and select the 24-hour membership fee
- Agree to the terms of service and place a $100 hold per bike in case the bike isn’t returned.
- Receive a one-time activation code that is active for 5 minutes to unlock a bike (if you wait more then 5-minutes you have to swipe your card again to get another code).
- Input code on the bike of your choice.
- Take bike and ride.
- Return bike to an empty spot.
- When you’re ready to check out another bike, swipe your credit card to receive another 5-minute code.
- Repeat as necessary.
The best part is how cheap these bikes are to rent, if you’re smart about it. The pricing in DC is as follows:
Everytime you check your bike back into a station your timer resets back to zero, which is perfect for touring DC. We’d check out a bike, start the timer and ride to a station near the monument we wanted to see, check in our bike and walk over to the monument to be tourists before going to check out another bike and heading to the next monument. The one time we went over 30 minutes was when we rode out to see the Jefferson, FDR and Korean War memorial, it cost an extra $1.50. Worth it. Especially since I got to shoot this epic trick in front of the Jefferson Memorial.
Spotcycle makes it very easy to take advantage of this service by offering a free app (available on iPhone, BlackBerry and Android) that not only shows you where every bike station is, in relation to you, but also shows you how many bikes/empty slots are at each station. I can’t wait till this service is available in more cities throughout the US.