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Old 04-09-09, 04:28 PM   #1
Spider
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Bike Rental in DC...Why Bother?

I am going on a trip to Washington DC next week, and will be there for six days. I'm staying at a relative's house for free. I found a bike map of the area, and discovered the house is very close to the Potomac River (@ Chain Bridge). Basically, this means I'll have easy access to bike paths that will take me directly to most of the attractions (National Mall, etc). I found a bike shop in the area that rents bikes at a minimum rate of $140 for five days. I'm sure I'll have to put a deposit on it, and if the bike gets stolen, I'd likely lose hundreds of dollars more. (This would be a concern since I would probably leave the bike unattended for hours while touring the Smithsonian, for example). So, my question is, why pay $140 plus and risk losing a deposit, when I could probably pick up a Walmart cruiser for $100, not worry about it getting stolen, and then just abandon it at the end of the week? I'm sure if I left it on the curb with a "free" sign on it and posted an ad in the free section on craigslist, it would be gone within the hour. Thoughts?
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Old 04-09-09, 05:04 PM   #2
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Or that Walmart bike could disappear on your first stop. Take a bus and save the cash? Ride for recreation rather than sight seeing?
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Old 04-09-09, 05:23 PM   #3
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There is a LOT of great riding in the DC area, but I wouldn't consider the Smithsonian area to be part of it. The roads around the National Mall (Constitution Avenue, 14th Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, etc) are big and busy. The walkways of the National Mall are usually crazy crowded with pedestrians, especially since you'll be going right around when the cherry blossoms are peaking.

If you need to get around the Washington DC Metro Area, take the metro (DC's subway system). It's clean, it's fast, it's cheap, and it'll take you straight to all the touristy areas.

If you want to go for a ride while you're there, rent a bike for a day, get on those bike paths and head west. You can pick up the W&OD (Washington and Old Dominion) bike path, which you can literally follow for about 50 miles. Or hook up with one of the local clubs (http://www.bikepptc.org/, http://www.restonbikeclub.org/). PPTC for sure has rides going every day.
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Old 04-09-09, 05:27 PM   #4
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Or that Walmart bike could disappear on your first stop. Take a bus and save the cash? Ride for recreation rather than sight seeing?
Bus service was the first thing I looked into. It's limited where I'm staying, with service ending at about 7:30 in the evening. Getting to the closest stop involves a 1/2 mile walk down a road with no sidewalk and no shoulder. Then I would have to transfer from the bus to the metro to get to the National Mall. All the while, I'll be thinking about the dedicated bike path that I can pick up about a mile from the house, which runs along the Potomac, and takes me directly to the National Mall 5 miles later.

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Old 04-09-09, 05:34 PM   #5
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If you need to get around the Washington DC Metro Area, take the metro (DC's subway system). It's clean, it's fast, it's cheap, and it'll take you straight to all the touristy areas.
I would love to take the metro, but there are no stations anywhere near where I'm staying. Closest one appears to be Rosslyn Station, about 5 miles away. If I don't have access to a bike, I'll probably have to rent a car (ugh).
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Old 04-09-09, 05:38 PM   #6
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I would buy the walmart bike to ride for a week. I have actually and sold it to my brother for half of what I paid for it before I returned home. He just wanted something to ride a couple miles down the road to go to the gym, and it worked out for both of us.
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Old 04-09-09, 05:51 PM   #7
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I would buy the walmart bike to ride for a week. I have actually and sold it to my brother for half of what I paid for it before I returned home. He just wanted something to ride a couple miles down the road to go to the gym, and it worked out for both of us.
So far, it seems to be the easiest and least expensive way for me to get around. Even if I ditch the bus portion and take cabs to and from the metro station, I will probably end up spending at least $100 over the 5-day period.
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Old 04-09-09, 06:09 PM   #8
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Just made a quick visual aid. The green dot in the upper left corner is approximately where I'll be staying. The blue dot is the closest Metro station (Rosslyn). The red dot at the lower right corner is where the National Mall area begins. The reddish dotted lines are dedicated bike paths. So, you can see it's an easy ride from where I'm staying, across the Chain Bridge, down along the Potomac, all the way to the National Mall.


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Old 04-09-09, 06:46 PM   #9
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If your friends can help.....check the Craigslist for DC. I found a number of completely usable bikes on there just a moment ago for under $50 and under. for example:
http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/n...115154069.html
Maybe they can pick one up? Who gives a crap about the fit.....anything in the ballpark will do the trick.
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Old 04-09-09, 08:13 PM   #10
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Yeah, that would probably be a great way to go if it doesn't get too time consuming. Plus, if it's a beater, it's probably less likely to attract attention from bike thieves.
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Old 04-10-09, 07:37 AM   #11
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How tall are you?
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Old 04-10-09, 07:41 AM   #12
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Or there's this steel Schwinn in Herndon:
http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/n...115146489.html

(looks steel to me, even though the listing says it's aluminum)
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Old 04-10-09, 07:46 AM   #13
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Spider, have you got a link to that map? I've been looking for something similar.
TIA
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Old 04-10-09, 07:49 AM   #14
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Downtown bike map:
http://www.ddot.dc.gov/ddot/frames.a...irebikemap.pdf

Metro area:
http://www.ddot.dc.gov/ddot/frames.a...remap_2007.pdf

They're really big, awkward files, though.
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Old 04-10-09, 08:10 AM   #15
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What about Smartbike??? I don't fully understand how they work quite yet but is it an option for tourists?
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Old 04-10-09, 08:49 AM   #16
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Smartbike is in DC only,and I'm pretty sure you can't keep them overnight. Plus they're really not that great of bikes.

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Old 04-10-09, 09:36 AM   #17
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Downtown bike map:
http://www.ddot.dc.gov/ddot/frames.a...irebikemap.pdf

Metro area:
http://www.ddot.dc.gov/ddot/frames.a...remap_2007.pdf

They're really big, awkward files, though.
Those are excellent, thanks.
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Old 04-10-09, 09:36 AM   #18
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Actually, your closest Metro stop is Virgina Square or Clarendon. By the way the roads work, you pretty much have to go by them first to get to Rosslyn.

Picking up a cheap bike sound like the way to go. Metro rail is charged by distance and can add up quickly. But instead of abandoning it, maybe drop it off at goodwill, or go on line and offer it on freecycle.

Is where you are staying up the hill on Chain Bridge Road or in the neighborhood at the top of Glebe? If off of Glebe, you can use 41st St to get to Randolf (the deadend near the light at the bottom of the hill). Traffic on Glebe is not very friendly, especially when you are going uphill.
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Old 04-10-09, 10:24 AM   #19
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Spider: PM sent.
Between the two of us, I'm sure we can get something for him to ride.
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Old 04-10-09, 11:44 AM   #20
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Actually, your closest Metro stop is Virgina Square or Clarendon. By the way the roads work, you pretty much have to go by them first to get to Rosslyn.
OK, that's good to know.

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Picking up a cheap bike sound like the way to go. Metro rail is charged by distance and can add up quickly. But instead of abandoning it, maybe drop it off at goodwill, or go on line and offer it on freecycle.
Yeah, I figure I can put it at the curb at run an ad on freecycle or the free section of craigslist.

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Is where you are staying up the hill on Chain Bridge Road or in the neighborhood at the top of Glebe? If off of Glebe, you can use 41st St to get to Randolf (the deadend near the light at the bottom of the hill). Traffic on Glebe is not very friendly, especially when you are going uphill.
It's just off Chain Bridge Road, by Fort Marcy Park.

I assume the path along the Potomac is pretty flat, yes?
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Old 04-10-09, 11:44 AM   #21
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What about Smartbike??? I don't fully understand how they work quite yet but is it an option for tourists?
Yeah, I looked into that. It appears there is a three hour time limit on usage.
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Old 04-10-09, 03:48 PM   #22
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Yeah, I figure I can put it at the curb at run an ad on freecycle or the free section of craigslist.
\
The freecycle around here is pretty active. Most things are taken in under a couple of hours.

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It's just off Chain Bridge Road, by Fort Marcy Park.
I assume the path along the Potomac is pretty flat, yes?
The C&O is a canal tow path, so it is dead flat between locks. From the DC side there is less than a mile of gravel path, then the Capital Crescent Trail crosses it. One way it's 3 miles to Georgetown (and another 2 to the Mall, the other it is 6 miles to Bethesda. Bethesda is a lively place with lots of good restaurants. Worth a visit.

If you take the C&O northwest along the river you can get to Great Falls, about 11 miles. Great views, and you can sometimes see the US national whitewater team working out in the river.

The Wilson Blvd strip of Arlington is also worth visiting. Has some of the best night-life in the DC area, especially in Clarendon. Take that 41st St I mentioned to the top of the hill, left on Randolf, cross the bridge, Old Glebe joins Glebe and straight to Ballston from there.

Here's a website that might help
http://bikewashington.org/

Enjoy the view north from Chain Bridge. Mather Gorge is one of the prettiest places in the DC area, but we normally don't share it with tourists.

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Old 04-10-09, 07:55 PM   #23
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Awesome. Thanks for the info, cc.
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Old 04-11-09, 10:23 AM   #24
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A walmart bike might need quite a bit to get it running unless there happens to be someone at that specific walmart that is allowed to work on bikes.
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Old 04-13-09, 01:03 PM   #25
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What about Smartbike??? I don't fully understand how they work quite yet but is it an option for tourists?
SmartBike is one option for basic transportation around the downtown area, but it takes a bit of prior planning.

First of all, you have to go on-line and get a SmartBike card... it's $40 for one year's use. Daily bike rental in the downtown shops is $35 to $40, so it's not a bad deal. Order your card at leat two to three weeks in advance.

Then go find a SmartBike station... there's 12 of them around the downtown area, each with 10 bikes. Swipe your card at the reader on the SmartBike station, and it will unlock and give you a bike.

Go ride... and when you're done, drop the bike off at a Smartbike station. If you keep it out over 24 hours, the system will charge your credit card $450 for the bike...

See http://www.DCSmartBike.com for the particulars, and to order your card.
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