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Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 05/10/2011

Biking to work? Virtually check Capital Bikeshare racks


Capital Bikeshare two-wheelers at 12th Street and Independence Avenue NW. (James A. Parcell - FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
Capital Bikeshare is fast becoming an essential part of daily life for Washingtonians, and soon those simple red bikes will be even more ubiquitous. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced last month that 25 new stations would be added throughout the summer.

At least 10,000 registered members — some of them commuters, some of them revelers — rely on two-wheeled cruising to leave cramped Metro travel in the dust. In typical D.C. fashion, competitive residents are starting to wonder if they’ll have to outwit each other in order to ensure one for their morning ride.

Prince of Petworth blogger Dan Silverman wrote Tuesday that one of his readers is considering waking up earlier to grab a bike before the local rack is plundered. Another would-be cyclist complained the service is only available half the time:

I can only rely on capital bikeshare 50% of the time bc all bikes are out, distribution probs, racks full at return spotsless than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

One way to get around a stalled commute could be to check a newly built Capital Bikeshare tracker before departing for work. Pie chart icons will fill you in on how many bikes are remaining at each D.C. area station. (You can also view historical usage trends if you click on individual stations.) CabiTracker was built by Daniel Gohlke, a cycling enthusiast wary of the program becoming a “victim of its own success.”

Gohlke said he has a wish list of features he’d like to build into the site, including alerts that let commuters know when a station is running low on bikes.

(Reader Meg Biallas added that she’s devoted to the official Bikeshare iPhone app, which also shows availability.)

(And if you need some data eye candy, check out this data visualization of Bikeshare usage over 24-hour windows of time. Thanks, Daimon.)

Do you use Capital Bikeshare? Is it worth what you pay? And are you finding that racks are low when you need a bike on your way to work? Comment below or by using #capitalbikes on Twitter.

Voice complaints, questions and concerns about the system at a DDOT public meeting in the District from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 25, at 441 4th Street NW, Room 1107.

Some replies from the birdcage:

i love #capitalbikes and I use them whenever i can. Biggest problem i keep having is no empty spaces at the stations i want to ride toless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

@katierogers Love love love the @bikeshare iPhone app. Availability always changes, so mobile app is crucial.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

By  |  12:56 PM ET, 05/10/2011

 
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