As the Friday evening rush hour traffic began to clog the streets around Dupont Circle, a group of more than 50 bikers began their ride to bring greater visibility and acceptance to alternate forms of transportation in the District.
Critical Mass D.C. is a movement of bikers who ride through downtown streets during Friday rush hour once a month to discourage commuters from driving to work and to protest the lack of consideration given to bikers by automobile drivers.
“D.C. is a bike friendly town, but some drivers just don’t give us equal rights on the road,” said Carlos Galloway, a resident of the District.
Dan Mulligan, a bike courier from Columbia Heights, who has been hit by a car four times in the last year, said such accidents are “common” for him and coworkers.
Despite the potential hazards of riding a bike in the District, Bicycling Magazine named D.C. as the “Most Improved City” for bicycling in the nation.
“We’re keeping our promise to make the District more bicycle-friendly,” said Mayor Adrian Fenty in a news release this month that touted the installation of the city’s 1000th bike rack.
While the District continues to take steps to encourage biking in the city, students at GW have been frustrated by the lack of resources for the large population of bicyclists on campus.
The University has 14 bikes racks spread throughout the Foggy Bottom campus, but many of them are often filled to capacity.
“I bike everyday and I usually park my bike on street signs because the bike racks are usually full,” said junior Morgan Kaplan.
“Efforts do continue to provide additional bike rack locations at other areas on the campus,” said Joshua Lasky, a Presidential Administrative Fellow at GW’s Office of Sustainability. “In the interim, the University does respond to individual requests regarding additional capacity and makes its best efforts to continue to meet needs as they arise.”
GW’s campus plan proposes the installation of additional bike racks in the upcoming year, but District Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Specialist Mike Goodno said the current facilities are not sufficient.
“GW needs a lot more bike racks and I think that they need to go ahead and pursue that,” Goodno said.
Beginning in August, SmartBike, a bicycle sharing program similar to Zipcar, began operating 10 stations located in high traffic areas around D.C., including the Foggy Bottom Metro Station. The District is the first city in North America to have such a program, which has 900 members so far.
Martina Schmidt, director of Clear Channel Outdoor’s SmartBike Program, said, “We feel that D.C. is a very good place for a bike share program due to the District government’s efforts to increase dedicated bike lanes and to make bicycling safer, to only name a few.”