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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 10/ 4/2010

Bikeshare has to hold on to its stations

By Rob Pitingolo

Last week, news broke that District Department of Transportation scrapped the planned Capital Bikeshare station destined for the southeast corner of Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill. DDOT cited "citizen concerns" for the decision, although some Capitol Hill residents were surprised to learn that their neighbors feared the bike system would bring crime and noise with it. Other CaBi stations that initially appeared on the system map are mysteriously disappearing, as well. In some neighborhoods, final CaBi locations are still in limbo, as DDOT scrambles to find acceptable places to install the bikes.

Initial sympathy goes to those who signed up for Capital Bikeshare under the expectation that a station would soon appear close to their homes. What does someone do who has activated their $50 annual membership only to find out that the CaBi station most convenient to them has been canceled?

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones with something to lose. For each CaBi station that gets nixed, regardless of the reason, the entire system becomes that much less useful for all 2,000-plus members. For bicycle sharing to work, there needs to be stations at both the origin and the destination of an individual's trip. If either link is missing, CaBi no longer makes sense as a transportation option.

Critics of CaBi point to a lack of station density overall as a threat to the success of the system. This is certainly a legitimate concern. For reasons ranging from political to legal to jurisdictional, Capital Bikeshare will not have stations in many logical spots across the city. That's not to say the system can't succeed with what's planned. But it's imperative at this point that the system that was planned actually gets implemented.

Rob Pitingolo blogs at Extraordinary Observations. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Rob Pitingolo  | October 4, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, transportation  
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