An early start today, rising in the dark, getting my stuff together, and heading out for a stop-off at the Starbucks on E Street for a caffeine fix and wi-fi hot spot to check mail and what’s happening back at the office.
The summit kicked off at 7:00 a.m. with a light breakfast buffet and a chance to tour some of the various booths and displays set up by summit participants. Again, for a new guy, it was a chance to mingle a little bit and learn to put faces and voices alongside those names I’ve been seeing in e-mail here and there.
If you’re ever a little confused about what the Bike Summit is all about, it’s not your typical annual get-together and convention. It’s all about the lobbying – placing 500+ informed, fired-up bike advocates on Capitol Hill at one time and swarming the halls of Congress. Today was the “informed” part of the deal, with a heavy schedule of briefings and pep talks by key Congressmen, and three sets of breakout sessions to provide the basic information behind and the key talking points for the specific “asks” that we will be making to the Congressional delegations tomorrow.
Amanda Eichstadt of CA, the chair of the League’s board of directors, led off the first plenary session this morning, and the first speaker up was the new Secretary of Transportation, Roy LaHood. Wearing one of the little colorful bike pins that marked the Summit participants this week, LaHood noted that during his confirmation hearings, the topic of “livable communities” was a constant and key topic. He then began by asserting, “I want all of you to know you have a full partner at the US DOT in working toward livable communities,” a promise that was repeated at least three times during his speech. The central theme of LaHood’s remarks was that he and President Obama will work hard help make communities nicer places to walk and bike. LaHood said that he and Obama, “Will work toward an America where bikes are recognized to coexist with other modes and to safely share our roads and bridges.”
LaHood is a recreational cyclist back home in Peoria, and is a big fan of the local Rails-to-Trails initiative. He promised that the Obama administration will work closely with communities and advocates for walkable, livable communities; to safely share our roads, bridges, and trails. He and the DoT are still developing the principles that he will share with the President in carrying out these commitments, but the new bill will preserve the qualities that make each community unique, and states will be expected to use this new flexibility and the new definition of cycling as a mode of transport to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians in public transportation projects. He closed with a promise of “new levels of cooperation on DoT’s part to incorporate and enhance ALL means of transportation.”
Next up was the venerable Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D, OR) from Portland. This guy walks the talk, as he rode down to the Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Avenue from his Capitol office on his Trek Portland commuter bike, and took the stage with his little reflective commuter band still strapped around his right ankle. Blumenauer started with a rhetorical question: “How many people right now are stuck in traffic on their way to a health club to ride a stationary bike?”
He also noted that he would be contacting the City of Washington to inquire, “why, by next year on Pennsylvania Avenue, couldn’t we find a few resources to stripe a bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue?”
· “We are pedaling what America needs.” Cycling will be a major part of America’s recovery from its current economic woes. Cycling project offer the most return per million dollars spent from the recovery funds. Cycling directly addresses and provides relief for three of our most critical issues: Health – with the positive effects of an active lifestyle; Education – specifically through the Safe Routes to School program, and Energy – as we “change from a hydrocarbon economy to a carbohydrate economy,” burning calories instead of fossil fuels.
· Families biking are an indicator species for livable communities. He noted that while the previous electoral candidates, Bush and Kerry, were avid recreational cyclists, one of the most telling images of the new administration was the pictures of Senator Obama and his family riding on a Chicago bike path.
· With Congressman Oberstar chairing the transportation committee, the “table is set for us” when it comes to writing the next transportation bill.
· We need to be relentlessly “bike-partisan.” There are no blue or red bikes.
· There are currently 213 legislators in the bike-partisan caucus. 218 would be a majority — and that’s a Summit goal.
· The Commuter Choice act will be taken up in this legislative session. The gist is it adds flexibility to the commuter tax benefits and allows the mixing of modes, e.g. biking and transit.
· New Clean-TEA legislation would set aside 10% of a carbon tax to help communities reduce the carbon-footprint of their transportation, making it more sustainable in the long term. The justification? One-third of greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation. Cycling and walking can offset that. Clean-TEA would be an amendment to a climate change bill.
Congressman Dan Lipenski (D, IL) followed to the podium, where he confessed that he didn’t ride down from the Hill – he took the Metro – and pulled his membership card out to show that he is indeed a “card-carrying member” of the League. He pointed out that although 13% of motor-related fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, less than 1% of all Highway Safety dollars go to bicycle and pedestrian programming. More advice on what we should ask for--a fair share of safety dollars.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui, (D, CA) was next, having just filed the Complete Streets Act of 2009. A previous bill died at the end of the last Congress, but they are making an earlier start for this session.
A “complete street” (as defined in the legislation) is one that takes into account all users of the street, not just those in cars. Matsui — a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - sees the bill as a way to solve three main problems: congestion, poor health, and air pollution. “Transportation should focus on all Americans, not just people who drive cars,” said Matsui. She spoke about how our transportation system must reflect that key American democratic ideal — choice.
Matsui talks about cars and our existing highway system (and the sprawl they have enabled) as if they’re an evil dragon that must be vanquished in order for peace and happiness to return to the kingdom.
· “Our outdated transportation system fosters reliance on cars…we talk about an epidemic of obesity, and the way we design our communities is partly to blame.”
· “Complete streets can re-invigorate corridors that are currently dominated by cars. We should transform these areas that are really nothing more than highways superimposed on surface streets.”
· “The days of irresponsible transportation investment are over. We cannot afford them any longer. We cannot afford more asthma, more congestion, and more climate change.”
Currently, federal law only recommends complete streets practices, but just a few states follow it (only 80 jurisdictions nationwide have officially adopted a complete streets policies). Advocates say the time is now to make this a federal priority.
Matsui said she’s optimistic that the political stars have aligned in this Congress. “We are going to transform this country, she said in closing, “and we are going to do it together.”
Tim Blumenthal, chair of the Bikes Belong Coalition, wrapped up the plenary session with a few remarks:
Cycling projects typically create 65 jobs per $1 million invested, more than comparable highway projects.
In turn, we receive $1 return on investment per mile cycled, once you figure in the health benefit of cycling.
The last Congress was a fairly tough one for the LAB and cyclists as a whole, even if it wasn’t all that bad in hindsight. The new Congress is much better, much more receptive;
· more support and funding from foundations and corporations;
· 10% set-aside from the proposed CLEAN-TEA legislation;
· Promotion of bike/pedestrian activities by community and statewide groups, as well as mayors;
· Mayors are interested and dedicated to bike improvements;
· Bike-friendly designations are on the rise, despite tougher qualifying criteria;
· National Bicycle Route Network is gaining acceptance and momentum;
· Complete Streets policies at community levels, some states; now new Complete Streets Act has been re-filed;
· New media – Facebook, Twitter – to reach and coordinate with advocates
· IMBA – mountain biking is growing again, and getting involved in advocacy issues.
The Summit then broke out into three groups of five breakout sessions to discuss the details of the various “asks,” proposed legislation, and current issues. I went to the first session on the “America Bikes” agenda, which featured three speakers on the basic “asks” for the Summit:
Caron Whitaker, the campaign director for “America Bikes,” laid out the four basic concepts of the agenda. These are:
1. Enacting a Complete Streets Policy or legislation at national level to ensure that our transportation system serves all our citizens fairly and equitably, where all new and reconstructed roads are designed and maintained to enable safe access and use by all modes of transportation: pedestrians, cyclists, public transit, and motorists. Note that “Complete Streets” = “Livable Communities” in the Administration’s current agenda.
2. Completing Active Transportation Systems: Connecting our network if sidewalks, bike paths and routes, and trails – specifically in cities, towns, and urban areas -- to enable a greater percentage of short trips to be made by foot or bike. This includes maintenance of the Recreational Trails Program in the current transportation bill, as well as support and completion of the National Bicycle Route System
3. Investing in Safety: This will ensure that highway safety funds are spent proportionally to casualties/fatalities (currently bicyclists and pedestrians comprise 13% of roadway fatalities, but less than 1% of safety funding is directed toward making our roads safer for these users), as well as increasing support and funding for the Safe Routes to School program.
4. Promoting Biking and Walking as Modes of Transportation. This would formally recognize cycling and walking as formal modes in the U.S. transporation network, align our transportation and climate policies, and enable (require) DoT to measure, enforce, and encourage progress in increasing the amount of trip share from cars to walking or biking.
Jeff Miller, of the (Thunderhead) Alliance for Biking and Walking spoke briefly on the need and methods for increasing the number of short trips from driving to biking or hiking. A common thread is that more than half of the car trips made in the United States are 3 miles or less. A common problem is that communities do not commonly track or record bicycle or pedestrian activities in the same level of attention they pay to motor traffic. One source to use at this time is the Thunderhead benchmarking report, at least until we can establish consistent data collection in a particular community for all modes of transport.
Miller emphasized that a key tool at state level is a statewide, or at least a local advocacy organization that can speak with a single voice for these issues. Thunderhead will be providing grants in the next year to assist in the organization and development of statewide coordinating groups for bike/ped issues. He strongly urged attendees when they return home from the Summit to start building coalitions not only with fellow advocates, but with local leaders, especially the mayors, county judges, and other local elected officials.
Mike Van Abel, executive director of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) spoke briefly (and passionately) on the role that mountain biking can play in transportation as well as the health/wellness component of the Bike Agenda. He elaborated on the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which has been used to establish and expand the natural trails system around many communities. It’s a well-established program, and Arkansas has received a little less than $1.4 million so far to build and maintain some of our epic trails like the Syllamo and the Womble. The reauthorization of the RTP does not currently have a sponsor or “champion” in the new Congress, so this will be a major goal for IMBA at the Summit this week. He closed with an appeal, that getting kids on bike, on natural surfaces is a Good Thing, and combined with the preservation of natural and open spaces directly helps combat the fitness/wellness problems of the younger generation.
The time is ripe to place emphasis on building/restoring livable communities, and there are provisions for these in the recovery bill recently passed. There is still a great amount of outreach and education to be done; we need to be able to convey how biking and walking can contribute to our economic recovery.
CLEAN-TEA, the “Clean, Low Emission, Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act”, would establish a 10% set-aside of funds from the current and future auctions of carbon emission allowances to establish a fund which would be used to fund projects in states, regional, and local governments that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases… these activities include public transit, bicycling, pedestrian, travel management such as van-pooling and telecommuting, etc..
A key question that came up afterward is, What would be the obligation of a State under the Complete Streets Act? Answer: The state will be given one year to enact legislation or coordinate and implement a statewide policy that ensures all transportation projects undertaken using federal funds comply with the complete streets principles, e.g. accommodating all modes to include pedestrians, bicycles, and transit, unless the project covers a roadway where these modes are prohibited (for example, freeways). If, after two years, a state has not complied by enacting such a policy, its access to appropriated highway funds would be sharply curtailed until it does so.
In making your “ask,” be a good listener as well. What information does your legislator or his staff need to support a particular bill? Get that info to them. And when you make your ask, listen closely for the answer.
Follow up on your ask. Listen to the small talk – who in the office or staff likes to ride bikes, or to hike? These can be key contacts.
Best manner to contact your congressional delegation is to directly call them, or use the FAX. After the anthrax scares several years ago, direct mail is no longer delivered to congressional offices in DC. E-mail is good, but working the telephones and Faxes is currently the best way.
The second breakout session that I attended was titled “Back to the Future: Affirming the Rightful Place of Bicyclists in Transportation Policy.” (Coreen went to a separate session focused on Complete Streets; Gordon went to a session on Urban Trails and Jump Parks.) I chose mine based on the list of who the speakers were, and it turned out to be a good choice. The session was chaired by Amanda Eichstadt, an LCI and currently Chair of the League’s Board of Directors, and speakers included LCI Eric Gilleland, director of the Washington Area Bicycling Association, LCI Barry Zalph, director of Bicycling for Louisville (KY), and Jeff Mapes, a Portland, OR journalist and author.
Amanda opened the session noting that several years ago she got frustrated at the actions of the many “scofflaw cyclists” in her community, which led her to join the League, and eventually get a grant to hold a number of Road I classes. She hired John Ciccarelli to do this, and eventually became an LCI herself.
When we teach the League’s Smart Cycling program, it’s crucial that we teach the role of driving a bike on the roadway. We also need to keep an eye on the legal system to ensure that we don’t lose our rights to use the roadways. We use paths when we feel like it, but the roadways are the main solution to getting where you need or want to go on a bike.
The League will be implementing a 6th “E” -- EQUALITY – in its Bike Friendly Community and State programs, and this factor will become important in the designation of such communities. Look for yourself – does your community and state treat cyclists fairly?
Eric Gilleland of WABA gave a presentation on “Enforcement – The Third Rail of Bike Friendly Status.”
IMPORTANCE of ENFORCEMENT
· Safety, of course…
· Equality among riders, between riders and drivers
· Addresses the “fear” in cycling
· Impacts all the other “E’s” of bike-friendly status
· Shows commitment to better bicycling
Without equitable enforcement of the traffic laws, there is no “trickle-down” of cyclist rights.
WHY THE “3RD RAIL”?
· The final frontier for advocates
· Limited resources of organization
· Enforcement is not tied to transportation policy
· Because cyclists break the law as well.
Traffic enforcement is not a priority in DC. WABA was galvanized to act proactively by the 2007 death of Alice Watson a student who was doing everything “right,” but was still right-hooked and killed by a DC garbage truck. After her death, DC police started targeting cyclists for all sorts of minor infractions, while continuing to ignore aggressive or wrongful behavior by motorists.
· Education, education, education
· Published and distributed pocket guide to DC area bike laws
· Published “Safe Bicycling Guide to DC” from Mr. Bike template, customized to DC
· Established a DC area Bike Advisory Council
· Negotiated community policing agreement with DC police
· Established “Pace Car” program (Driver “share the road” education; pledge of safe driving, with sticker placed on the vehicle)
Lack of understanding about traffic laws, for both drivers and cyclists, creates a perception of bias against cyclists, e.g., “bikes are toys.” Perception is reinforced by absence of overall traffic enforcement for current laws.
Incorrect police enforcement (e.g., police officers don’t understand bike laws, either) is also an issue. Police commonly cite cyclists for riding in the street and order them to the sidewalk.
In many cases, police will not prepare a report for bike crashes or car-bike crashes. And without a police report, you are normally out of luck with your insurance provider.
Likewise data collection is problematic. If you don’t know where and why crashes occur, it’s hard to make corrections to engineering and education areas.
· Contributory vs. comparative negligence in crash resolution
· Vulnerable Road User laws
· Helmet laws (tend to focus on wearing helmet vs. preventing a crash in the first place)
· Enforcement targets illegal, but safe, behaviors
· Idaho Stop laws
· Enforcement MOUS with community police
· Better training of police officers in academy and in-service training
· Improved coordination between transportation policy makers and police departments
· Coordination between enforcement agencies and transportation departments to identify high risk behaviors and high-crash locations.
More at http://www.waba.org
Barry Zalph of Bicycling For Louisville (and one of my LCI instructors from the Louisville seminar… Barry’s the guy who got me into pulling out the tape measure all the time when setting up for the parking lot drills) gave an excellent presentation on “Changing State Laws to Improve Bicycling.” BFL recently led a campaign to establish a vulnerable road user law for the state of Kentucky, which would provide increased enforcement and penalties against motorists who run over bicyclists or pedestrians. The bill died in committee due to Kentucky’s short annual legislative session, but they will seek to revive the bill next year using the lessons learned from this year’s effort.
WHY TRY TO CHANGE THE LAW?
· Can help solve a statewide problem
· Can provide a basis for strengthening our various E’s for bike-friendly status
· Can build your membership and clout for the organization.
· State law gives you a stronger basis for demanding that the rules be enforced.
Activities like this can give you a substantial boost inactive membership for a statewide or community organization. Your group becomes recognized as a player in local issues; and you actually affect people and the outcome of events.
WHY NOT TRY TO CHANGE THE LAW?
· Requires legal research resources
· Process may/will get out of your control
· Potential for adverse consequences
· Can deplete your organization’s resources
· Can reduce your organization’s credibility.
· Can have a lot more (or less) effect than you intended
· How will the law play out if it passes?
· Potential for unfriendly amendments
Know your sponsoring legislator. It stops being “your” bill and becomes “theirs” as soon as it’s filed. It can be amended at almost any time in the process to significantly change its scope and/or effect.
Massive amounts of time required to research, draft, and garner support for the bill.
Those speaking for the bill can sound like nuts (reducing credibility). Need to carefully craft, script, and present your message.
WHEN – NECESSARY INGREDIENTS FOR CHANGE
· Problem- clearly defined.
· Proposal – credible and specific
· People – Leaders, strategists, supporters, connections
· Patience and Persistence
· Gather statistics supporting your case
· Gather compelling personal stories – you need a teary-eyed survivor who will testify and perform well before the legislative committees.
· Research existing law, and its shortcomings.
· Research good laws in place elsewhere
· Consider non-legislative solutions.
· Turn the map around – how might the bill affect those working in the field? Ask them. Anticipate and address weaknesses
· What do lawyers think of the proposed bill?
· Who stands to lose if the bill passes?
· Who might be offended if you don’t consult them in the process?
· Who usually opposes “this sort of bill”?
· Is the bill revenue-neutral?
· Recruit cyclists (LAB, local advocacy groups and clubs)
· Find non-cycling allies/partners
· Make your case to the general public.
· Learn from the experts (non-cycling advocates with strong citizen advocacy programs; legislators, legislative/research staff, lobbyists, cycling advocates in nearby states)
LAB advocacy and Thunderhead Alliance “Winning Campaigns” training can be a huge booster/preparation for this sort of project.
· “Legislator X” – the guy who sponsors and champions your bill
· Bill sponsor and co-sponsors
· Honest brokers, weather vanes
· Legislative staffers and bill drafters
Share credit with your volunteers and those who helped you with your campaign.
Jeff Mapes, a journalist with the Portland Oregonian newspaper and author of the recent book on the cycling movement, Pedaling Revolution, made a few comments on improving the public perception of bicycling. Jeff said a whole lot more than this, but he’s a much better writer than an organized public speaker:
· How do you get your message out to the general public? Make the conservative case for bicycling. Set a good, happy example. What good can riding do for you and others?
· You can change people’s attitudes about what they think about cyclists; upset their perceptions and change them for the better.
· Cyclists are perceived to be very much like home-schoolers, e.g., “so arrogant, want everything special for them, and out of sync with the professional education [transportation] lobby.”
· Cycling represents Choice – the freedom to choose your own course of action, your own means of getting from one place to another.
· Acknowledge that everyone breaks the rules out on the road to about the same degree. We have laws, rules, and then social customs about what’s acceptable to “get away with.”
· Consider hidden subsidies… e.g. free vehicle parking (all the parking spaces in the U.S. add up to a space the size of Connecticut). Oregon currently has the proposed bike registration law as a snipe to get cyclists to pay a larger share of infrastructure costs.
Jenn Dice, IMBA:
Bicycles are the #1 implement to get kids outdoors and involved in nature again.
Green space, urban parks provide an excellent opportunity to get even inner city kids re-involved with nature; wildlife observation trails, etc.
The third breakout session I attended was the one on Safe Routes to School. I was interested here because the League youth education agenda is currently being rewritten, primarily to support this program, and I was interested in seeing what may be coming down the road from this perspective. I didn’t get as much out of this one as I did the other sessions, since it was pretty much a straightforward presentation of the SRTS as a whole, and most of the successes presented here were for the walking part of the agenda… e.g. the “walking school bus” and related concepts; many school superintendents are apparently still skittish about bicycles on campus and letting kids ride there.
Currently, 4,566 schools actively participate in SRTS. $416 million was appropriated for the program, of which $370.6 million has been awarded by the various state highway departments. Of all applications, approximately 37% are funded.
SRTS projects that get funded are typically simple, and focused on specific issues or problems. The availability of federal funding can galvanize PTAs, so this is a key group to partner with and get them involved. The kids taking up walking and biking can be tough on Mom & Dad, so it’s critical to get parents involved and supportive.
Educational curriculum: LCIs can provide important assistance and support; as most of the champions of the SRTS program know little or nothing about cycling, especially vehicular cycling or the Smart Cycling program. LCIs can train PE teachers and assistants; but the LAB youth education program is still under revision/update.
SRTS projects and support thereof can create a valuable, physical presence of advocacy groups in the neighborhood schools.
Need to check and be sure that SRTS projects are written into/incorporated in the city’s master street or bike plan.
Funding is currently available for only about 7.5% of eligible schools; typically only part of a school system or district will be served by a particular grant. Current ask will be for $3 billion over the next 5 year. SRTS currently serves only grade levels K-8; there is a growing need as current biking/walking student move on to high school to make these schools accessible, too. Ask will be to expand the program to serve levels K-12.
SRTS grantees must also comply with all provisions of Title 33 for awarded funding; will seek to streamline and simplify the administrative burden of managing the grant in the coming federal legislation.
Many schools are cutting bus routes due to budget decreases. Cutting one bus route saves a district and average of $37,000. There is an opportunity/need to replace lost bus routes with an SRTS project to keep a good level of service to affected students.
Program supports community-centered schools and livable communities, augments/depends upon Complete Streets for implementation, should be associated with the school’s Wellness program or policy.
A key point that I brought away from here is that STRS is a very different program than what DoT and state highway departments are used to dealing with, as it is principally dealing with people rather than pavement.
Following the various breakout sessions, the League held a short pre-brief for the State coordinators, who then set up coordination meetings to affirm schedules and get together to coordinate for the office visits on Capitol Hill the next day.
The Arkansas delegation convened with a total of five delegates. The 3 BACA representatives planned to attend each of the six meetings provided that we were able to get between all the offices in time, Matt & Terry from NWA would join us for the meeting with Rep. Boozman (3rd District) and the senators. Whoever was the particular constituent from that district would lead the discussion in that particular meeting.
Following the state caucuses, the League presented one last effort at advocacy coaching, with a skit titled “Summit Idol” where designated members made one of the specific asks to a panel very similar to that of the “American Idol” judging staff… very much a demo of what not to do when you got in your Congressman’s office… but highly entertaining and informative at any rate.
I bailed out at 6 p.m. to go to the IMBA wrap-up meeting, so missed out on most of the evening social hour… I had run into these folks through the day in the various sessions, but the wrap-up was very well done and a good pep rally to get out and promote mountain biking and the IMBA principles…
IMBA is re-aligning its organization to be better organized on a regional basis. They see this as their next level of growth, nurturing teams of “passionate, committed, dedicated volunteers.” They are a partner with the League, the Alliance, and SRAM (sponsor) to provide more locally-effective, grassroots advocacy. This advances the advocacy issues of the various groups, SRAM and Specialize see this as a great means to get more trails, quicker, and thus more places opportunities for people to ride their bicycles.
IMBA will be organized ona regional basis in the future. If you join one of the Regional districts, you’ll automatically be added as a member of IMBA at the national level, and vice-versa, if you join IMBA, you’ll also be included in the regional membership that serves your community.
An important event is “Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day,” typically held the first Saturday in October. 130 organized event this past year, looking to greatly improve on that in 2009. And when you take a kid mountain biking, take the parents too, and get them involved… an ideal situation is when we can get families out on trails, on bikes. [This is one project I plan to take on for BACA, using the new Pfeifer Loop down by the BDB as a gateway trail).
These sorts of gateway trails are excellent resources, look at them in the same manner as the skate parks, getting kids out on bikes, on trails, doing the same sorts of things and having the same sort of fun.
IMBA Ride Centers (mentioned in one of the Trails Symposium workshops) were promoted as a way to get more folks on bikes, and on dirt.
Fundraising: “Team IMBA” was mentioned as a quick way to raise local funds for trails projects… sponsored by SRAM and GT bicycles. One selects an MTB race, signs up with Team IMBA, and proceeds to raise funds for a trails project. If you raise $500, SRAM will match that with an additional $500; total funds are split 75/25 between your local trail project and one of the national trails projects. Other fundraising projects can be supported, or they may have a way to suggest a good method; call Rich Cook at IMBA.
National Mountain Bike Patrol (MNBP): Probably the fastest growing program in IMBA at this time. Look at supporting your local patrol, or starting one in your community if you don’t already have one. A great support organization for mountain biking in local communities.
I skipped the IMBA dinner and went back across the hallway to catch the last part of the League’s Annual Meeting. They were doing the Copenhagen presentation from the first evening again, followed by a short talk and reading by Jeff Mapes of the Portland Oregonian, author of the new book Pedaling Revolution. I stopped by afterwards to visit a bit with Jeff, as we had briefly met in the first morning session, and bought one of his books to read on the flight home.
On the way back to the flophouse, Gordon and I came upon one of the new SmartBike stations. Early last year, DC instituted a bike share program for the District, with ~200 3-speed bicycles pre-positioned at approximately a dozen places around town. SmartBikes are more or less oriented toward local residents, though… in order to check one out for use you need to apply for a special SmartBike Card, issued by applying on-line, paying $40 per year, and getting a special card that you swipe at the SmartBike rack to check out a bike. I saw a couple of these things cruising around town, so the project is apparently working… Maybe if I do this thing again next year, it’ll be worth signing up ahead of time for a SmartBike card… the $40 is pretty comparable to a one-day bike rental for the Summit’s closing day bike ride…