Six members of Congress, including four who represent the District or a close-in suburb, are urging the National Park Service to follow through on its plans to allow Capital Bikeshare stations on the Mall.
In a letter to Steve Whitesell, director of the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, the members said the proposed expansion would offer “an innovative, cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation service” to 30 million annual visitors of the Mall.
“We encourage the National Park Service to move forward expeditiously with plans to widely deploy Capital Bikeshare at various Mall locations and give serious consideration to other Park Service land within the National Capital region,” the letter stated.
It was signed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who represents the District, as well as U.S. Reps. James P. Moran (D-Va.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis. ) also signed the letter. Both are firm advocates for cyclist-related issues on Capitol Hill.
In the letter, the group said bikeshare would be a “less expensive alternative to current transportation options” available to tourists on the Mall. They also argued that the program could help beautify by the Mall by reducing the number of cars that traverse it.
“Locating strategically placed bike-sharing stations at high-visitation areas will enhance public access and create a new means by which 30 million annual visitors can experience the Mall,” the letter said.
Although Park Service officials were initially hesitant to buy into the District and Arlington’s popular bikesharing program, they recently told The Washington Post that they now hope to install stations on the Mall as early as next year.
First, however, local and federal officials have to work out where the stations would be located, who will pay for them and whether they would impact the environment or historical character of their surroundings.
District officials also hope that the National Park Service will allow bikeshare stations to be on other property it owns in the city, including Rock Creek Park and the various urban squares or circles in the city center.