Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thousands Used Bike Valet

On Inauguration Day, several thousand people took advantage of the two free bike valet stations that the Washington Area Bicyclist Association set up on the north and south sides of the Mall.

Eric Gilliland, executive director of the association, told me that the volunteer valets parked 1,127 bikes at the 16th Street location and had to build a separate enclosure with spare crowd-control fencing to handle overflow. At the Jefferson Memorial location, 827 bikes were parked.

"We didn't lose a single bike, and the one helmet that went missing was eventually found," Gilliland said. The volunteers, he added, "stood outside in the cold for hours and really worked hard to make it as pleasant an experience as possible for those that came with bikes."

Walkers' Victory

At one point or another, walking was the dominant form of transportation Tuesday. So I asked Peter Owen, who often commutes from Capitol Hill to Clarendon on foot, to assess the results.

On Inauguration Day, he said, "many people learned how relatively easy it was to get around our city by walking."

He noted that the last time we had that much foot traffic was Sept. 11, 2001. But that day, he said, people had walked in the manner of refugees, without preparation and in distress.

On Inauguration Day, Owen said, "people were walking purposefully out of joy and desire. My guess is that many will choose walking such distances more often now that they know how to go about it."

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