by Kiera Zitelman, UMD Environmental Economics student
From trails between downtown monuments to bike lanes on Woodmont Avenue, the DC metropolitan area is brimming with bicyclists in these summer months. The success of Capital Bikeshare (affectionately known as CaBi), which has added 874 new docks in the last eight months, has introduced a new community of casual bicyclist-commuters around the city. Users pay an annual, monthly, or daily fee to rent one of over 1,500 bikes from over 100 stations around the metro area. CaBi plans to expand into College Park with a $375,000 state grant this fall. Future plans look to Rockville, Alexandria, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and other suburbs. A recent survey of CaBi’s 18,000 users showed annual transportation savings of over $800 a year and avoided 5 million collective miles of driving.
While bikesharing programs grow around the country, Bethesda enjoys some excellent bike trails. The Capital Crescent Trail and C&O Canal Towpath put Georgetown within an hour’s ride of downtown Bethesda. DC’s high gas prices and rising Metro fares make biking an excellent alternative to driving or public transportation. And biking is a great form of exercise, too – an hour of moderate speed burns close to 500 calories.
Getting on a bike has never been a better idea. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association offers educational events for adults and children. Annual Bikeshare memberships are just $75, and new or used bikes can be easily found at area bike shops and online. Try replacing one commute a week with a bike ride instead, or plan a family trip on the weekend. Happy riding!