Archive for the ‘Washington DC’ tag
The DMV region has a truly excellent network of dedicated bike paths, particularly Arlington.
Thank goodness. Because driving an automobile around the Northern Virginia suburbs reminds me of one of Dante Alighieri‘s hell realms.
But hidden in plain sight is a surprisingly robust matrix of bike lanes and pathways.
From Arlington to Falls Church (including the Metro stops from Rosalyn to West Falls Church) it is quite convenient to go by bicycle from point A to point B.
Many of the paths — like the Curtis Trail shown in these images — traverse wooded areas that are only yards from utterly congested roadways such as Interstate 66.
Above a pair of ducks are enjoying a hidden pond.
The paths are heavily used. In fact, they are busier than most bike paths and lanes I traveled on in California.
Another big part of this region’s bicycling culture is the Capital Bikeshare system.
DC can boast that it had a bike share system in place before New York City and San Francisco. And I can boast that I once worked with the transportation design and planning firm (Alta Planning/Alta Bicycle Share) that built DC’s system.
To check out some of my earlier blog posts on Capital Bikeshare click here.
The DC, Maryland, and Virgina (DMV) region has a pretty robust bicycling culture from what I’ve witnessed.
Urban planners have converted the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue into a rather complex set of bicycle lanes.
The view above is looking east toward the Capitol. The image below is looking west.
En route, this old Schwinn with a vintage Brooks saddle caught my eye. The saddle is disintegrating, but still serving its intended purpose — carrying its rider along life’s unfolding, luminous path.
This tree — conveniently used as a bike rack — is in the parking lot behind the giant Vietnamese shopping mall known as the Eden Center. (See below for a view of the front of the mall right before an early evening thunderstorm.)
And if you haven’t noticed, the front wheel you’re looking at in the picture above is super dreamy:
- 700c x 32mm Grand Bois extra leger tires
- wide body SON delux Schmidt front generator hub
- PL23 Pacenti rims
- Velo Orange porteur rack
- Velo Orange 45mm hammered fenders
Just outside the main entrance to the National Gallery of Art.
I’m not sure if it’s true, but I heard that Dali required this painting to be displayed alone, in it’s own viewing room.
The museum has honored the request to some degree, by putting it in a mezzanine, stairway-like area by itself…but I’m not sure this genuinely honors the spirit of Dalil’s wishes.
And the master of light, Vermeer, I’ve now learned used a camera obscura in his artistic process. When the reflected light of a scene was projected onto a viewing screen, the device would selectively blur certain areas (as does the human eye) and identify precise areas of bright or specular highlights (e.g. the pearl necklaces in the jewelry case below).
Vermeer probably analyzed the camera obscura results to help render his sublime paintings — thus, painting with light!
What a day for a bike ride around the National Mall.
It’s kind of a cliche, but I had to stop for the classic photo-op in front of the Capitol reflecting pool.
The Capital Bikeshare scheme works like this:
- Swipe your credit card at a Bikeshare kiosk to initiate a membership (in my case a 24 hour membership at a cost of $5)
- Agree to 120 pages of contract terms by clicking “I agree”
- Collect the printed ticket (see above) and enter the code into the docking station to release the bike
- Return the bike to any of the 110 stations around the city (if you return the bike within 30 minutes it’s free)
Note: finding a nearby docking station is best accomplished on your smartphone with the remarkably practical Bixou App.
I just returned from a quick trip to Washington, DC. There’s been lots of rain this summer and it shows! The images below were made (with an iPhone camera) around a residential neighborhood near the Tenleytown metro station.
The neighborhood is about 1-2 miles from American University. One of the students living across the way from my friend (who hosted me for the day) no doubt uses this good looking mixte to commute to class.
Once again, I tried out the Capital Bikeshare program. I had a free hour the morning before I was set to return to AZ so I did some cruising around the National Mall. I have a few images I plan to post soon.
I ran into two issues while using the system:
- persistent shortages of open docks at the 21st and C St. station.
I would often snag the last remaining dock, then observe other riders pedaling away to look for another station to return their bike. I also observed an abandoned bike on the sidewalk because there were no spaces to dock it. Clearly, CaBi needs to add another docking module at this location.
- the kiosk’s touch screen failed me when I needed it most.
It was critical to be at work by 9am Friday morning. I finished my breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Dupont Circle (oatmeal, with fresh berries, OJ, and a cappuccino). I left myself 15-20 minutes to get down to C Street. I was a bit worried about the destination (since the Bixou app was telling me there were no docks available). But when I attempted to check-out a bike, the touch screen at the Dupont kiosk would not respond. Nothing. I was locked out…….TAXI!
The upshot: A great system, with some implementation issues. I unnecessarily spent $9 on taxi fare — not a big deal — but it did raise the cost of relying on CaBi by more than 50% (a 5-day CaBi membership is $15).
I spent five days using the CaBi system to make a simple, 3-mile, round trip commute while working in DC this past week. It was great. I loved not having to ride the metro or take the bus (or have to travel with my own bike).
As much as I enjoyed the system, I did experience a couple snafus that caused me to lose some confidence in the system (more on that in Part 2).
But I had no major complaints about the bike itself. I’m a big, big fan of the front rack and bungee cord. The system worked great for holding my satchel securely in place. The quibbles below are all relatively minor and somewhat subjective:
- the fenders are too short (as Dave pointed out in the previous post’s comments);
- the high gear (on the 3-speed hub) could be spaced a tad higher; and,
- the shift lag — on the bikes I rode — was quite noticeable.
There’s also an amazing (and in my opinion, indispensable) mobile phone app, Bixou, which lets you locate nearby stations and display live updates of both the number of bicycles and the number of open docks at any location.
This post is a bit of a non sequitar since (in my previous post) I was in the middle of describing my ride up Mt. Lemmon. But I’ve been sent to DC for a week of work-related training giving me the opportunity to try out the Capital Bikeshare program and I thought I would post some images now, rather than wait.
How is the bike share program, you ask?
So far so good, although the persistent thunderstorms have made me keep a keen eye on the sky since I don’t have proper rain gear with me.
I’m staying in Dupont Circle (where I’ve been picking up a bike each morning) and riding to the Department of State (where the bike gets dropped off). The main streets along the way don’t have any designated bike lanes, but I’ve found some smaller, quieter streets that work well. Plus, drivers seem surprisingly tolerant of my existence — so far.