I was green today. Oh yeah. This morning I went to the furthest outlying SmartBike rack, the one at Dupont Circle, to check out its actual location and to simulate a "bike commute" to work.
When I arrived in Dupont Circle, I checked out both entrances to the Metro Station but couldn't locate a SmartBike rack. So I asked a nearby downtown Hospitality Ambassador, standing around in her distinctive black and gold clothing (an "ask me" person), where the SmartBike rack was. She had never heard of the SmartBike program but she got on her radio and in minutes had the answer. As a matter of fact she chased me down with the information because by then I was wandering around asking other clueless persons. (Right: These Golden Triangle Ambassadors will get you answers in downtown DC.)
Mass Avenue on Dupont Circle. Sure enough, there was the bike rack, out of sight of either entranceway but loaded with the distinctive red and white bikes.
Rush hour traffic in DC is nuts. I decided the safest route over to the Union Station area where I work didn't lie in following the hypotenuse down Mass Avenue to Union Station, but rather going along the two legs of the triangle. So I gained Rock Creek Park, where there is a bike path, by going a few blocks down P Street, almost getting run over by a swiftly moving Metro bus in the process. After my traverse down Rock Creek Park, I hung a left and rode up the Mall to near Judiciary Square, whereupon I rode a few blocks on city streets to the drop-off bike rack.
Lo and behold, there was a SmartBike guy there, dressed in red and white clothing, unloading several bikes from that full rack to transport them in his red and white van to less full racks at other locations. I helpfully wheeled a couple of bikes over to his van to help him out.
Twenty-nine minutes on a bike. My legs were on fire. But this is a program that works. I have a stable of 100 bikes being kept downtown for my personal use anytime (between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.), all being serviced by a legion of mechanics and drivers, for $40 a year. Nah-nah, do you?