The running of the Bikesharers
By Catherine Ross,
The scene at the Eastern Market Metro’s Capital Bikeshare docking station, April 17, 7:06 p.m.:
I came out of the Metro station and went to get a bike at the Bikeshare dock to ride home. Of course — why even mention it? — while coming up the escalator, I checked on my phone app to see how many slots were open at the station at my apartment building. Only three left. Uh-oh.
A worker from Capital Bikeshare asked the three of us ready to undock bikes to wait for a minute because he had to reboot the station.
The guy on my right: “Where are you going?”
Me: “13th and D Northeast.”
Guy on my right: “Okay, I’m going to Lincoln Park. I was just wondering if you were a competitor for a slot there.”
The guy on my left: “I’m going to Lincoln Park, but there are 19 slots available. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
Me: “Only three slots available where I’m going. Lincoln Park is my backup if my station is full.”
Bikeshare employee to the eight people now waiting to undock: “Can everyone hold off for a minute? I’m rebooting the station.”
Me: “I think it’s so funny how a new system gets introduced and everyone immediately figures out the best way to compete in it.”
Guy on my right: “Come on, it’s D.C. — we’re all smart.”
Guy on my left, raising an eyebrow: “We are?”
Me: “I’m not sure the rest of the country would agree with that.”
Bikeshare guy to the 13 people now waiting to undock: “Can everyone hold off for a minute? I’m rebooting the station.”
Guy on my left: “He means, it’s D.C., we all know how to work a system.”
Bikeshare guy: “Okay!”
Sound of 15 people undocking bikes.
Bikeshare guy: “. . . and they’re off!”
Guy on my right is out of the dock and across the street ahead of the pack. By the time I reach Lincoln Park, he’s docked, and I see him walking to his house on East Capitol Street.
Me, cycling by: “You made it!”
He, nonchalant, waving: “Oh, yeah, no problem.”
I get to 13th and D, Bikeshare cyclist on my heels, or rather on my back tire. I pass up the first open slot so that he doesn’t think I’m competing with him and take another one farther down. I dock, remove my helmet, and as I walk to my building, I pass a woman with furrowed brow on a Bikeshare bike heading for the docking station.
Me: “There’s one left for you!”
She: “Oh, thank God.”
I get home, head out to the balcony, and looking down, recognize another woman from the melee at Eastern Market, biking forlornly up the street toward the H Street dock — five blocks away.
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