I stumbled on to this short video because I trying to find a Wikipedia entry on SmartBike DC (there isn’t one yet). I was originally going to post two Google Maps (see below) showing the number of stations in DC compared to the number of Velib stations in Paris. The point of the two maps was to show that Clear Channel, which was beat out in Paris by JCDecaux, went a little skimpy when planning and implementing DC’s SmartBike program.
Velib was launched just about a year ago on July 15, 2007, with 10,000 bicycles and 750 automated rental stations each with 15 or more bikes/spaces. This number has since grown to 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 stations, about 1 station every 300 m throughout the city centre, making Velib the largest system of its kind in the world. Washington, DC, on the other hand, started with 10 stations, about 120 bikes, and is the first program of its kind in North America.
While Paris is a much larger city, I am disappointed that with all the hype surrounding the SmartBike program, the planners were not as Smart as they could have been. Had they placed racks at *ALL* DC-based Metro stations before launching I would have bought my SmartBike pass immediately and I bet more would-be bicycle riders would have as well. Until then, I don’t see myself purchasing a pass because I can get to all the current locations on my own bike.
Washington, DC’s natural topography features a hill that surrounds the “Federal City,” or the old part of the city below Florida Ave, which was once called Boundary Street because it was the natural line of demarcation. This hill is what stops me from going to some places on my bike versus taking the Metro. Yet the locations of all the SmartBike stations are located below the hill, so why bother using the bikes when mine works fine for this area? For example, I’d rather take the Metro to Tenleytown, hop on a bike there, and take it down the hill to Georgetown.
Anyways, I still want to make a video called “Doing Dumb Things On A Smart Bike,” but I guess I am going to have to wait…
For a comparison of scale, check these two Google Map screen grabs featuring the locations of the Velib stations and the SmartBikeDC stations:
Related Bicycle Entries:
Photographs from Park(ing) Day DC 2009
|| 9/21/2009 || 11:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||
Last Friday I attended the first celebration of Park(ing) Day in Washington, DC. Originally conceived & celebrated in 2005 by the artist/activism group ReBar in San Francisco, the concept behind Park(ing) Day is quite simple: reclaim urban space normally taken by cars by taking over different parking spaces for the day and turning them into temporary parks.
Organized by the contributors of the blogs ReadysetDC & F1RSTNR, the original concept for last week’s inaugural Park(ing) Day DC involved four locations around Washington, DC, but at the last minute the DC Department of Transportation threw up some large impediments that made the day’s planned celebration nearly impossible to execute. According to one of the organizers, among the various obstacles that DCDOT came up with was that they wanted the organizers to have large concrete jersey barriers to prevent cars from plowing through the temporary park (really?!).
After hearing about this issue, I mentioned the old direct action maxim: it’s easy to beg for forgiveness, then to beg for permission. As in, if the organizers would have just gone ahead and setup their temporary park(ing) spots and let the police and DCDOT deal with the matter in real-time, they could have ‘begged for forgiveness’ and made a scene in the process. The other way around, being lawful citizens that is, involves going to the DCDOT asking for permission (aka permits) and if the authority isn’t too keen on the concept (which it appears they weren’t) they can make it impossible to undertake.
Thus result was more of a Park(ing) Lot Day than a Park(ing) Day, but that didn’t stop the fun that was had by all the participants. The day’s savior was the owner of the local business Garden District, who currently owns a vacant lot at the corner of 14th & S streets, and allowed the Park(ing) Day organizers to set up there. The organizers drove out to Virginia and picked up 1,500 pounds of sod and laid it down over the asphalt and created their own temporary urban park, which ended up being much larger than a parking space would have been! They also sourced some plants, furniture, books, 3D chalk, christmas lights, and even a badminton set; all of which made the lot more of a corner park for people to hang out at.
I arrived around 3pm and hung out with everyone, took a few photos (above & below) and even made a couple new friends. Around 5:30pm I left and went to a friend’s house to get equipment for the show at the Black Cat later in the evening. And after setting up for the show, I went back to the Park(ing) [Lot] and helped them cleanup park. In all, I had a great time. Next year, however, I am aiming for having a park in the central business district. Check the other photographs I took: