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Bicycle program makes District easier place to get around, residents say

After his primary loss, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is noting his successes, like last month's initiation of a bike-sharing program.
After his primary loss, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is noting his successes, like last month's initiation of a bike-sharing program. (Bill O'leary)

Dennis Cohodar, 37, owns his own bicycle, but said a one-day membership in Capital Bikeshare convinced him to become an annual member.

"I live in a townhouse and don't have to carry this up and down the steps, and I don't have to chain it up," Cohodar said. "This makes so much sense. Why didn't they think of this five, six, seven years ago?"

Andy D. Clarke, president of the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, said the District still has a long way to go to catch up to Boulder, Colo., San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and other West Coast cities that promote bicycling.

But Clarke said the District and New York have moved into the "top tier" for short-term gains in launching cycling-related initiatives. Under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York has installed 250 miles of bicycle lanes. On Tuesday, the city issued a request for proposal for private companies to provide a bike-share system similar to the District's.

"It's something [Fenty] can look back on with some pride," Clarke said.

Although he wins high marks from cyclists, Fenty's efforts to promote cycling might have played a role in his loss to Gray in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

In less-affluent parts of the city, bicycle lanes became a symbol for the perception - which Klein said is unfair - that Fenty favored predominately white neighborhoods in Upper Northwest.

Others have complained that the Fenty administration didn't involve community leaders before deciding where the bicycle lanes or bicycle-sharing stations would be located, highlighting concerns that the mayor was arrogant and detached.

"In some places where [the bike-sharing stations] ended up, the first anyone found out about it was when they were put there," said George R. Clark, chairman of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, which advocates for historical preservation.

But Chad Vale, 23, said programs like Capital Bikeshare are a reason he moved to Petworth from Connecticut Avenue.

"I now can get around anywhere without a car," Vale said after he dropped off a bike at the Dupont Circle docking station. "This is what makes D.C. great."


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