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Ballston to Get Its First Bikeshare Station

by Katie Pyzyk — April 24, 2012 at 11:10 am 3,373 79 Comments

Ballston will be getting its first Capital Bikeshare station next week, as CaBi continues its westward push.

The station will have 19 docks, and will be set up on N. Stuart Street at 9th Street, in front of Welburn Square. The station is scheduled to be installed from noon to 2:00 p.m. next Monday, with a ribbon cutting event to follow.

“Ballston already has a number of transit options, and this is a great addition to that,” said Ballston BID Executive Director Tina Leone. “We see this as a great asset for Ballston, and for Arlington.”

CaBi stations have been popping up quickly throughout Arlington, particularly along the Orange and Blue Line corridors. The most recent additions came yesterday, when stations were installed along Key Blvd at N. Veitch Street in Courthouse, and N. Quinn Street in Rosslyn.

There’s an online map showing where future stations are expected to be built. CaBi takes suggestions for new station locations online.

  • JohnB2

    It’s a great location for a bikeshare stop, right in the middle of Ballston and close to the Metro.

  • novasteve

    There was an article that came out this weekend stating that while Cabi is popular, it’s not profitable, so don’t get too used to it folks.

    • sunflower

      or–USE it or lose it!

    • Rm

      There was an article that came out every year since the 70s stating that while Metro is popular, it’s not profitable, so don’t get used to it folks.

    • GoodOmens

      Subsidized exercise is one of the few things I support tax dollars being used for.

      With American obesity on the rise, we need all the insensitive we can get.

      If you are overweight and exercise on a regular basis – your life expectancy and health improve greatly – even if you can’t lose weight. This translates to a less burden on our health system…..

      • NotSafe

        It’s a matter of time before a car plows into someone using one of these bikes; I’m not in favor of required-helmet laws, just pointing out it may not be safe to offer rental bikes up to anyone, regardless of their experience biking in urban traffic.

        • GoodOmens

          Fair point. With DC selected by Green Lane as part of their pilot – hopefully this will encourage more cyclist separated lanes in Arlington as well.

        • Michael H.

          The accident and injury rates have been very low over the first 18 months of the system’s operation. The sample size is large enough that the numbers are valid. As I mentioned on another post below, there have only been perhaps 10-25 accidents in the first year. (There are different reports.) There were 1 million total bike trips in the first year of operation. So even if you take the higher accident total, that’s still just 1 accident for every 40,000 bike trips.

          The number of serious injuries was even lower, something like 2 or 3. Again, taking the higher number, that’s a rate of serious injury of 1 in 333,333 trips. You’re more likely to get injured from a lightning strike. It doesn’t mean there’s zero risk, but the risk is pretty low.

          That said, it’s always a good idea to wear a helmet and follow safe riding practices. Be aware of intersections (including driveways, parking lot exits, alleyways, and so on). Assume that drivers don’t see you. (Oftentimes, they are texting or talking on a smartphone.) Use common sense too.

      • Michael H.

        We actually subsidize sedentary lifestyles and junk food diets, by paying for the consequences of those lifestyles and habits. It was recently estimated that the U.S. spends $190 billion (with a B) every year on treating avoidable medical conditions related to inactivity and poor nutrition, which combine to increase the rates of obesity, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, early onset of heart disease and so on.

        People drive to make 2-mile trips. They don’t exercise at all. They eat crap all day long. And everyone else has to pay to support those bad habits. How? Through both government AND private insurance plans. In both systems, costs are spread among all users. While some health plans are beginning to impose higher premiums for unhealthy living, most do not. Even uninsured individuals get subsidized, because of their use of ER services for what should be routine treatments or what could have been preventive care before obesity led to serious problems for those patients. The hospitals have to cover those costs somehow. The costs are passed down the line, to insurance plans and when that’s not possible, to other patients in the form of higher fees and charges.

        There are enormous health and financial costs to the car-dependent lifestyle that so many people lead these days. People blab on about not subsidizing bikeshare. Why isn’t it a problem to subsidize $190 Billion in avoidable healthcare costs every year?

      • novasteve

        That’s not exactly accurate. If people live longer they will be a bigger burden on our health system AND social security system, for obvious reasons. That is of course unless they decide to do death panels and just not treat the elderly as it’s not worth it financially. But sticking around into advance age isn’t cheap.

        • tin foil hat

          so that’s why you smoke?
          I see you are so compassionat about the elderly: ” just not treat the elderly as it’s not worth it financially”
          I must say that I’m shocked – even for a republican like you.

        • Michael H.

          People did not use to develop Type II diabetes in their 40s. Or 30s. Or 20s. Or their teens. It used to be called adult-onset diabetes but that term no longer makes sense because so many children are developing the condition in recent years. It is NOT a problem of people living longer.

          When someone becomes obese, their average medical expenses become double that of a non-obese person. When someone is becoming obese and developing Type II diabetes by the time they are 30, this is a huge personal health issue as well as a major financial burden. What distinguishes this situation from other conditions and diseases is that the unhealthy combination of inactivity, bad nutrition, obesity, Type II diabetes, etc. is largely avoidable. It’s a matter of local culture, family practices and yes, personal choice. There are a few cases where people become obese because of a genetic problem, but that is exceedingly rare. There are more frequent cases of people being genetically disposed to becoming obese or developing Type II diabetes, but environment still plays a major role. Perhaps THE major role.

          Symptoms of Type II diabetes can decrease or even disappear altogether with regular exercise and proper nutrition. What does any of this have to do with old age and death panels? You are again clouding the issue with irrelevant points.

          Bottom line: People need to exercise more, eat better and stop eating junk. Has nothing to do with being old. Plenty of unhealthy teenagers and 20 somethings these days. Doesn’t have anything to do with partisan politics either. Unhealthy is unhealthy.

          • Doktor Zuess

            You VILL exersisse. Zat iss der law. If you vill not exersisse, vee vill not provide medical care for you. Even zo you paid for eet.

            Vee vill tell you vat to eat, as vell.

        • GoodOmens

          An elderly healthy and active person will still be less of a burden on the medical system then someone who is not healthy and active.

          What’s not accurate?

    • drax

      This article?

      http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/04/20/capital-bikeshare-nearly-operationally-profitable/

      It says that Cabi is near profitability despite being only a few years old. In other words, exactly the opposite of the spin you tried to put on it, Steve.

      • Greg

        We’re talking about Arlington, though. How does Arlington do in revenue? I believe Capital Bikeshare actually runs a decent profit in DC, which would mean Arlington must be below that 97% figure.

        And I’m really asking from the other standpoint that it would be terrible if Arlington cancelled the program because it loses money. I use CaBi and think it’s great. I’m not sure that profitability is the correct measure of success for a government funded “transit” program.

        • drax

          We weren’t talking about Arlington, but we can.

          I think CaBi is taking the low-hanging fruit now. As it expands into lower-density areas, it will hit areas where it’s less profitable. So it’s too early to judge.

          I don’t know the details of how it is subsidized. I don’t think profitability is the only measure of its success, but it certainly helps. It’s like Metro – partly funded by the government and partly by its users, and partly for the benefit of its users and partly for the community as a whole.

          • Michael H.

            CaBi will not expand into low-density areas. But it could expand into less dense areas. The long-term plans have not been finalized yet. They have been asking for public input into the general goals for the system, whether to focus on adding more stations to existing CaBi areas, or to expand to Columbia Pike/Shirlington/Lee Hwy, or do both.

            (This part is not addressed at you specifically.) As for profitability, CaBi has never been intended to be profitable. It’s a transportation system. No transportation network is profitable. So why would we require CaBi to do something no other network does? That’s just a flawed criticism from people who seem to hate bikes and any sort of outdoor activity, for whatever reasons. The highway system is not profitable. So should we abandon that? Uh, no. Transportation systems are designed and funded to make the rest of modern life possible, supporting economic activity and promoting the quality of life.

            So yeah, I think CaBi will be around for quite a while.

            You made a good point that CaBi benefits others, not just its users. It takes cars off the road when it replaces car trips. (Admittedly this is not the majority of CaBi rides. But it has become a significant number, especially given the relatively low cost of the CaBi system compared to the cost of building new highways, road lanes or Metro lines.) It can ease crowding on popular Metro lines such as the Orange Line corridor during rush hour. Riding from Ballston to D.C. is not a major challenge for most people. It doesn’t even matter. If many people start riding CaBi along the Orange Line, then the Metro trains will be less crowded, benefiting all Metro users on the line.

            As for how this is a liberal idea, got me on that one. Polls usually show that a majority of liberals and conservatives like cycling but for some reason, certain conservative leaders are adamantly opposed to cycling and bike infrastructure. EVERY transportation system is heavily subsidized by general tax revenue. But it appears that CaBi will soon require almost no subsidy at all. If and when they start allowing advertising on the bikes and the stations, the system will likely turn an operating profit. That would make bikeshare an exception among transportation systems. Even if it didn’t, it’s still a good investment. The overall costs of the system are incredibly low when compared to road lanes, Metro lines and even bus systems.

            One of the biggest supporters of cycling in the U.S. is Ray LaHood, a lifelong Republican who was formerly a Congressman and is now the Secretary of Transportation. (Yes, he is part of a Democratic administration, so maybe certain individuals — guess who — would brand him as a traitor worse than Benedict Arnold.)

          • drax

            Yeah, I meant less dense. You won’t see it in Centreville any time soon.

            On the liberal thing – conservatives like to come up with ideas, and then when liberals adopt them, conservatives suddenly can’t stand them.

          • Ballstonian

            Does anyone know if they’ve changed the amount of “free” time one gets per ride? It was 30 min, but I would assume that they’ve changed that if they’re opening up the Arlington market (where you might not be able to get from Ballston to Dupont in 30 min and then would have to pay overage fees).

          • Michael H.

            Just stop in at intermediate stations along the way. Check in and check out. That resets the 30-min. countdown. You can keep doing that as long as you find a station with a free space.

          • Greg

            Can one do this? I’ve always been locked out when I try to dock and immediately undock?

          • Michael H.

            I’ve never had a problem doing this. Are you an annual or monthly member? Or a daily member? Even then, I don’t know if that would matter.

          • Michael H.

            You do have to wait for the green light to flash. Then you have to use your key to check the bike out again.

          • Greg

            Annual member. I’ll try it again on the way home tonight. Last time I tried I kept getting a red light and I couldn’t take any bike out of that station. The guy at customer service said I needed to wait 10 mins before undocking at the same station.

            Maybe just a quirk that day…

          • Michael H.

            Maybe they changed the system. I don’t remember if I’ve docked and undocked rapidly in recent months. But I’ve done it many times in the past. A lot of other people have done so too. I’ll try it again today and see what happens.

          • Ballstonian

            I think CaBi is great, but if it’s not convenient for me to use it, I probably won’t. If i need to walk to within sight of the metro to get the bike, and then potentially have to dock/undock to stay within the time limit (if thats even allowed), that’s a bit of a hassle.

          • Greg

            Thanks, Michael. I’m guessing (hoping) it’s just me. I haven’t tried this in probably nine months since it didn’t work early on. I also had other issues back then, though, that I never had again (like getting locked out entirely once, the system not knowing I had a bike checked out, etc.). I’ll post an update.

          • Michael H.

            Ballstonian, many new CaBi stations are on the way, particularly in the Ballston area.

            This is a better map than the one posted in the article:

            http://g.co/maps/afpvx

          • Greg

            It worked! Thanks! Maybe i didn’t wait long enough before…

          • Michael H.

            Even if you didn’t do that, as long as you stay under 60 min., you would only be charged the initial fee for going over 30 min, which is something like $1.50. That’s less than a Metro fare. And CaBi is a lot more enjoyable, and healthy, than riding Metro. I don’t know of many people, other than little kids, who enjoy long trips on Metro. Even the kids probably don’t enjoy Metro during rush hour. On the other hand, I frequently hear people talk about how much they enjoy riding CaBi bikes. So it’s good for their mental outlook as well as their health. And it helps with overcrowding on Metro and traffic congestion on local roads.

            The majority of car trips are just a few miles in distance. That’s an easy trip on a bike. When you factor in time spent on getting to a parking spot at both ends of the trip, car and bike trips usually take a similar amount of time in denser areas like central D.C. and Arlington.

          • Michael H.

            Some other points: CaBi started out in Arlington. It isn’t just moving into the Arlington market. However, it’s only just now expanding into the Orange Line corridor. Previously, it only covered Crystal City, Pentagon City and D.C.

            There were issues with riding from Crystal City/Pentagon City to downtown D.C. within the 30 min. limit. But the National Park Service finally allowed stations to be installed on the National Mall and other NPS areas. There are stations at East Potomac Park, near the Washington Monument and the Mall entrance of the Smithsonian Metro station. Within a matter of weeks, there will be stations at the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.

            The Jefferson Memorial station is key for those riding between Crystal City and downtown D.C. It’s pretty easy to ride between Crystal City and the Jefferson Memorial within 30 min. Probably 15-20 min. without too much effort. Then dock and undock there before heading onto downtown D.C. and other areas. There are stations at Gallery Place, Georgetown and Nationals Park. (The stations at Nats Park can get blocked up with bikes before and during games. So check the Spotcycle app or look at the CaBi online map before starting the trip. This is always advisable. It helps to know if your destination station is full. However, there can be a delay in the info. It’s not quite real-time.)

          • Greg

            This is pretty good information on Arlington’s system (not sure why you think this discussion would not be about Arlington). See page 44.

            http://www.bikearlington.com/tasks/sites/bike/assets/File/BikeshareTDP_System_Eval.pdf

        • Michael H.

          They aren’t going to cancel CaBi. The program has been far more successful than even the initial supporters thought it would be. There were a couple false starts with bikeshare in the D.C. area, primarily the old SmartBike system. SmartBike only had a handful of stations, all located in D.C. with poor coverage of major business and residential areas. Not surprisingly, the system did not attract many subscribers or users.

          But SmartBike did do one thing — it showed some people that perhaps a better planned, and larger, bikeshare system might work in a U.S. city. There were already very large and successful bikeshare systems overseas, in Europe as well as in China. (Some bike critics like to say that we shouldn’t turn U.S. cities into Beijing, never mentioning the fact that cycling has largely died out in many Chinese cities, while European cities like Copenhagen, London and Paris have increasingly focused on adding bike infrastructure and bikeshare systems.)

          Arlington decided to start up a bikeshare system of its own, separate from SmartBike. D.C. learned of these plans and asked to join the system, to make it a true regional network. And that’s how CaBi got started. Critics said that no one would ever ride any of the bikes and that all of them would get stolen or destroyed in a matter of months. Or they said that there would be a rash of serious bike injuries.

          The number of subscribers and riders took off far more rapidly than anyone expected. Operational revenue took off more rapidly than expected. There have been sporadic cases of vandalism in certain areas, but it hasn’t been a widespread problem. While it’s true that many CaBi riders don’t wear helmets, this hasn’t actually been a significant problem. Because of the slow speed of the bikes, the accident rate has been extraordinarily low. While I’ve seen different stats on the accident totals, even the higher number of 20-25 is still low over a total bike trip number of 1,000,000 for the first year. Only 2 or 3 of the accidents resulted in serious injury as far as I know. In one accident, a helmet would not have protected the cyclist from injury. (I believe he suffered serious hip injuries.) Helmets can help with certain minor accidents. But for the CaBi system as a whole, it has probably helped to reduce the severity of injury in maybe a handful of cases among the more than 1 million total trips. (We’re probably getting close to 2 million trips now because ridership numbers have continued to climb this year.)

          If CaBi were such a disaster, why would all of the other close-in jurisdictions be clamoring to get onboard? Alexandria is set to install its first stations soon, possibly within a couple weeks. Montgomery County is adding stations in Rockville and Shady Grove and is trying to get funding for a larger network in Bethesda, NIH, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Prince George’s County has also started the process of joining Capital Bikeshare. Doesn’t sound like they think it’s a bad idea. In fact, just the opposite.

          • bemused bystander

            Michael H — you’re a real novelty here, someone who has good information and shares it at length and with minimal snark. Are you just omniscient and saintly by nature, or do you have some connection with CaBi or other related credentials?

          • Michael H.

            No official connection with CaBi. Just someone who has been a member almost from the very beginning. I also take a keen interest on local transportation issues, particularly those related to cycling, but I am not a transportation analyst or a Metro employee. Just something I’ve gotten into over the past few years. Before 2008, I hadn’t ridden a bike in well over a decade, not since high school. I’m glad I got back to cycling again.

      • WeiQiang

        Precisely. I’m thinking that not everyone understands the business cycle of a startup.

        • ha ha!

          business cycle. har har

      • novasteve
    • wimmer201

      Bikeshare is here to stay. I love it and use it all the time. But nice job trying to be the usual buzz kill. I would expect nothing less from you.

  • SimplyDusty

    This would be fine if there were BIKE LANES in the area. You take your life in your hands on Wilson, particularly headed west to get to Bluemont Park. Glebe and George Mason aren’t any better.

    • nom de guerre

      You need a full suspension bike to navigate the pavement on Wilson west of Glebe Road.

    • NotSafe

      Even in areas where there are bike lines one street over (N. Fairfax) I constantly see bikers, not wearing helmets, going the full length on a parallel street (Wilson Blvd) which is about as stupid as it gets.

      • Swag

        I sure do wish that I was clairvoyant so I could know what was on the street I’m not on.

      • tin foil hat

        They have every right to full use of these traffic lanes. It’s the drivers who are the problem.

    • drax

      There is a bike trail from Ballston to Bluemont Park, parallel to Wilson. You can get there almost entirely off road.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BluemontJunctionTrail.jpg

    • WeiQiang

      Glad someone is bringing up the safety issue. I ride my own bike a LOT on the streets, trails and paths of NoVa and DC. Drivers, pedestrians, and other casual cyclists don’t seem to have a clue how to operate safely around bikes. Also, as someone who also drives a lot on the streets in the Metro DC area, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been broadsided by a CaBi bike rider who has ridden right through a stop sign.

      Helmet issue aside [having seen a friend who was not wearing a helmet medevac'd by helo from the Mt. Vernon trail after sustaining a bad head injury in a bike accident], very few people – riders or drivers – seem to abide by the rules of the road that would otherwise keep everyone safer. Even if there are not paths or a marked bike lane, it’s not rocket surgery to act in your own best interest to keep yourself from getting killed or killing someone else.

      There’s a lot of ‘human nature’ in play here that we may just dismiss, but there are responsible ways of going greener and availing ourselves of more transportation options. For frick’s sake.

      • GoodOmens

        DC Just got selected for the “Green Lane” project:

        http://www.bikesbelong.org/bikes-belong-foundation/green-lane-project/

        Which will hopefully bring more cyclist separated lanes to the city and surrounding areas.

        • WeiQiang

          Happy to see that. Still no substitute for thinking and biking or driving to keep yourself and others safe. I’ve seen those lanes in action in DC. Folks texting while biking, going the opposite direction … because the lane in the direction they want to go is a block away. It’s an improvement, certainly, but is merely complementary to the process of thinking and acting to keep everyone safe.

  • Swag

    Oh cool, they’re putting one right outside my building.

    That’ll be fun to look at.

  • novasteve

    The great thing about these libby ideas, is that I can sometimes pretend I’m vacationing in a third world country when i see all of the mopeds and bicycles. if only there were palm trees here.

    • drax

      Funny how people often go on vacation to those places to escape the horrible traffic and pollution back home.

      • novasteve

        Go to Thailand, india or Vietnam and let me know about escaping traffic.

        • Steamboat Willie

          Do you go to escape extradition?

    • BikesYaY

      if there were canals you could pretend you were in the Netherlands.

      • Sanders, Col. (Ret)

        If there were chickens everywhere you could pretend you were in Key West.

    • Michael H.

      London, Paris and Copenhagen aren’t third-world countries the last time I checked. This argument is your way of turning this into some sort of racial issue, that somehow it’s only the unwashed masses of the third world that have to ride bikes. Good Lord…

      • Michael H.

        Or I should have said, those cities are not part of third-world countries.

      • Michael H.

        By the way, these types of statements truly reveal some of your biases. And they aren’t entirely pure and ideological as you think they are.

        • Michael H.

          It’s outright racial hostility, even on an issue that doesn’t have any racial component to it. In fact, bikeshare is frequently criticized for being targeted at and used primarily by upper middle-class white males. And yet, you are trying to turn bikeshare as some sort of dirty thing that only Third Worlders do.

    • wimmer201

      A pretend vacation from a pretend law career. That sounds about right.

    • Juanita de Talmas

      Now we know why you push Republican policies so much…you enjoy third world countries. It all makes sense now.

      • drax

        +1,000

  • jslanger

    They _just_ installed (yesterday, actually) a CaBi location on Veitch and Lee Hwy (near the Bergmann’s cleaner). The fact that CaBi is expanding (and this specific location) is making me very seriously consider getting a membership and riding into DC to work.

    Especially with gas >$4/gallon!

    • GoodOmens

      Try it out one day ($7 for a 24 hour membership) and if you like it – sign up.

      If you just use it a few times a month it basically pays for itself. Cycling is a nice way to break up a normal commute.

      They now have a monthly installement plan that, at $7/month, is a little easier to swallow then a onetime $75/year.

      • novasteve

        the monthly and daily plans cost the same amount?

        • tin foil hat

          math not your best subject?

        • GoodOmens

          Yes – but if you cancel the annual installment (the monthly plan I mentioned) they charge for for the remainder.

    • nittanyhokie

      You should definitely use CaBi to commute to DC. I used the Veitch station this morning and made it to Union Station in about 26 mins!

      • jslanger

        Thanks—thats pretty darn quick! I only need to go from Veitch to Foggy Bottom…the only CaBi station is a little bit down the street on I St & 21st… If you made it to Union Station in 26 minutes, then Foggy Bottom can’t be much more than 15. It’s definitely making me strongly consider it.

        Thanks all for your thoughts!

  • cj

    I was hoping that CaBi might expand to areas outside the Metro corridors so that residents in lower-density neighborhoods could pedal instead of driving to Metro, shopping, doctors’ offices and so on when it’s too far or too hot, cold or wet to walk. Apparently that’s not in the picture, at least not for some time. Too bad.

  • Not Car-Free Diet

    just waiting for the day when they ban cars.

    • drax

      No you aren’t.

  • Lost in Arlington

    The first Bikeshares station in Ballston?? I guess this means the Central Library is in Cherrydale.

    • Wilbur

      Nah. It’s North of the corridor, therefore its Donaldson Run

  • LeAnn Weaver

    I saw a bikeshare set up near Courthouse today – on ‘Vietch St near Corner Bakery…..

  • Jane

    No more Bikeshare stations until bicycle OWNERS are afforded safe and accessible places to park their bicycle. NOT around a lamppost and NOT areound a tree.

  • Wilbur

    Overlaying CABI on top of the subway really achieves little. It is also a bit shameful that CABI has been confined to the wealthy yuppie corridors of Arlington. For CABI to be a compelling solution – it needs to reach beyond the Ballston-Rosslyn and Crystal City corridors, to places like Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Lee Hwy. It is weird to have a government subsidized transportation system that benefits so few.

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