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Gear Prudence: What’s the deal with people taking Bikeshare bikes on the Metro? This seems totally against the point of Bikeshare, and I can’t figure out why anyone would do it. Am I just not getting something? —Surely Unusual, But Why Agonize Yourself?
Dear SUBWAY: It’s masochism. It’s for the pleasure of the pain of dragging the beefy bike down a crowded escalator, fending off the death stares of the passengers you accidentally bump into as you wheel it across the platform, shoving your bike into a car so crowded it can barely manage even a few more bikeless passengers, and then finally, when you arrive at your destination, awkwardly wedging it and yourself through the faregate and hoisting the weighty ride up a broken escalator, trudge by trudge. It’s fifty shades of multimodalism.
GP surmises that there could be other motivations of a less psychological nature. Perhaps the station nearest the Metro was full of bikes, and the riders, pressed for time to make an appointment across town, decided they would cope with the travails of a cumbersome onboarding process in the hopes of finding an open station nearer their destination. It’s probably not the best choice, but it’s theoretically understandable.
Or maybe the rider has business two miles away from a Metro station in part of the region that has yet to install Bikeshare. Rather than walk or wait for a bus, the Bikeshare/Metro combo might be seen as more practical, despite the higher cost. Or maybe the rider has just developed an unhealthy attachment to that particular bike. Maybe he gave it a cool nickname, like Big Red, and a backstory (“It just loves trains”). Or perhaps the larcenous rider is absconding with it to Gaithersburg, so he can try to sell it on Craigslist a few months later.
But in all likelihood, when you see a Bikeshare bike on the Metro it’s a case of “you’re doing it wrong” by someone unfamiliar with how the system works. A Bikeshare bike is meant for point-to-point short trips from one dock to another one. Taking the bike on a train (or a bus or leaving it outside of a restaurant) is a costly way to misuse the system, since usage charges begin to accrue after the bike has been out for 30 minutes. If your destination is too far away to comfortably ride, dock it and pick up a new bike when you get where you’re going. A daily Bikeshare membership doesn’t just give you access to one bike for the whole day, but rather the entire system of bikes. Take advantage of that.
Ultimately, there’s a Bikeshare binary: Either you’re riding it or it’s docked. Anything else misses the point. —GP