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The arrival of spring in Washington, DC, is marked by cherry blossoms and legions of bicycle riding locals and tourists.
Spring has finally graced DC with its presence and our most prized possession, cherry blossoms, are painting the town pink. And while the Japanese Sakura is blossoming like a 90s TV sitcom, so are the legions of DC bicyclists making their way around town.
You’ll spot mothers ferrying multiple kids to school, well-healed Senate staffers making their way to the Hill, and your favorite baristas single-speeding down 14th Street. You’ll also spot some red and black tanks rolling down the bike lanes, but don’t be alarmed, it’s just CaBi.
Capital Bikeshare, or CaBi as we like to call it, is a good option for those of us that live in tiny apartments, have little patience for public transportation, and watch gas prices like horror movies. DC’s CaBis are, for the most part, always available, easy to ride, and have a decent-sized front rack for toting your essentials. However, when riding CaBi one must be strategic to avoid extra fees. Locals who are always rushing, like me, can join and receive a fob. The holy trinity of keys on DC keychains are: house keys, work keys, and a red CaBi fob.
For visitors, plan your starting and ending stations because bike share won’t drop you off directly at your destination, but it will get you very close. Ride less than 30 minutes because those first 30 are free of additional charges. Free bike rides are my favorite kind.
After hopping on your bike of choice, you will invariably want to know how to get to your destination. Every rider has their own favorite routes, shortcuts, and secret passageways, but here are a few to know and use:
15th Street Cycle Tracks – Stretching from Florida Ave. NW to the Washington Monument. These are popular, which is great, but also means they can get crowded and for new users aren’t always the most intuitive to navigate, so take your time.
Pennsylvania Avenue Cycle Tracks – Stretching from the White House to the Capitol in a straight shot. Exiting and entering Penn Ave. can at times be a bit of a challenge, but once you’re in it’s bike heaven.
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail – Connecting a good portion of the east side of the Anacostia River to the bridges and thoroughfares on the west. It is also a beauty of a trail.
Metro Branch Trail – Stretching from beyond the northern parts of the city to the city’s east side. As awesome as the MBT is, the hill getting on it from the easternmost part may have you wishing you had pedal-assist.
DC is also host to bike-friendly events throughout the year. During the National Cherry Blossom Festival there are special bike tours until April 13, 2014, and CaBi will be hosting bike corrals so that you can ride to festival events without having to find a dock.
DC Bike Party is a party on your bike with all of your friends invited. Think of it as Critical Mass with music, revelry, and friendlier people. Every second Wednesday of the month.
A founding member of the League of American Bicyclists’ Equity Advisory Council and Red, Bike, and Green ATL, Hamzat Sani is obsessed with all things race, class, culture, and bicycling related. Sani wants to see butts of all kinds enjoying the joys and challenges of bike riding. When not single-speeding in his favorite pair of loafers, he’s either sifting through vintage fabric or developing community empowerment initiatives.