It’s been about a month or so since I started commuting to work by bike, and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The Capital Bikeshare has worked out extremely well–I haven’t run into any problems with bikes being unavailable or there not being room to dock the bike at my destination station.
The most challenging aspect of the whole thing has probably been getting the logistics down. First, there’s the route. D.C. has a fair number of bike lanes, but also a fair number of busy streets with heavy traffic and drivers who are in a big hurry. But I’ve mapped a few routes that maximize bike lanes and/or stick to secondary streets. I think a misperception I had initially was the traffic would be extremely hairy, but the nature of dense city driving is that, by and large, cars simply aren’t able to drive that fast during the morning or evening commute. Of course, you still have to watchful and attentive.
Another aspect of the commute that has required some thought is the weather. D.C. has notoriously hot and muggy summers, and I don’t want to arrive at the office dripping with sweat if I can help it. So far, though, I’ve found that if I simply pack an extra shirt I can ride in normal street clothes (e.g., khakis and a polo shirt) and easily freshen up with a shirt change and some minor ablutions when I get to the office. My commute’s only about 2.5 miles and with the breeze created by the ride I stay cooler than I thought I would. Things may change if we get into stretches of upper-90s later in the summer, though.
The most rewarding part of the experience so far has been that it’s just flat-out fun. Cycling can give you a great sense of freedom and grace as you whiz through the streets, but at the same time it’s extremely peaceful, allowing you to be present to your surroundings with multiple senses in a way that driving makes impossible. Coasting through the tree-lined streets of Capitol Hill at 7 in the morning makes for a pretty enjoyable way to start the day. How many people can say that they actually find their commute relaxing?