Pick up an impromptu set of wheels at any one of the 110 Capital Bikeshare stations throughout DC and Arlington. Photo by Kevin Kovaleski courtesy of DDOTDC.
When about one million visitors descend on the District for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, actually getting to the blooms becomes a bit challenging. The Metro is mobbed, taxis are harder to come by, you can forget about parking, and if you're unfamiliar with the area, the bus system can be labyrinthine. Lucky for you, DC is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation. Here's a guide to getting around on two wheels during the cherry blossom festival.
Big Wheel Bikes, Georgetown; 202-337-0254
Price: $7 per hour or $35 a day for a hybrid or mountain bike.
Big Wheel Bikes is about two and a half miles from the Tidal Basin and offers several types of bikes, including road bikes, performance hybrids, and trail-a-bike attachments for kids. Helmets are provided, and locks are available upon request. You must rent for at least three hours if you choose to pay hourly; for the daily rate, bikes must be returned by closing time (or pay the $10 overnight fee for a 24-hour rental--hybrid, mountain, or performance bikes only). Call to check the store hours--they vary throughout the year.
Bike and Roll, downtown, 202-842-2453; and Union Station, 202-962-0206
Price: depends on the type of bike rented. For two hours, it's $10 to $24; four hours, $20 to $48; and 24 hours, $35 to $70.
Bike and Roll has two DC locations: one within walking distance of the Mall at the Old Post Office Pavilion, and the other at Union Station near Capitol Hill (the enclosure says "Bikestation"). In addition to bikes for both casual riding and long-distance trips, the company offers tandem bikes, kids' bikes, jogging strollers, wheelchairs, and trailers to transport young children. You also get a helmet, a bike tube, a tire pump, a lock, and a handlebar bag for your belongings free of charge. Online booking is available only for full-day rentals--all others are first come, first served. Make sure the rental you're interested in is offered at the location you're visiting.
Bikes to Borrow; 202-684-8086
Price: $47 to $125 per day.
Instead of a storefront, this company delivers your rental and picks it up when you're through. There aren't hourly rates. You can rent kids' bikes, helmets, locks, and racks on request. You can make reservations online or by calling 202-684-8086 (online is faster). Free delivery includes Northeast, Northwest, and Capitol Hill in DC; fees apply outside these areas.
Capital Bikeshare, area locations
Price: $7 for a 24-hour membership plus usage fees.
Capital Bikeshare has 140 bike stations around DC and Arlington. Go to the station nearest you (click here for a station map) and use your credit card at the kiosk to pay $7 for a 24-hour membership (there's a $101 hold placed on your credit card as a security deposit). The kiosk gives you an unlock code to release a bike, which you can then ride to the station nearest your destination. The first half hour is free, the second half hour is $2, the next is $6, and the price rises steeply from there. You can make as many or as few trips as you'd like during your membership period, and the system will remember you through your credit card. You can also download the free app Spotcycle to take the station map mobile.
Revolution Cycles, Crystal City; 703-415-4560
Price: $20 for four hours plus $5 per additional hour, or $35 for 24 hours.
In addition to standard bikes, this shop also offers kids' tag-along attachments. You can pay daily or hourly at a minimum of four hours. Book your reservation online using your credit card--you won't be charged until you return the bike, at which point you'll be able to choose a payment method.
Rollin' Cycles, Logan Circle; 202-525-3712
Price: $8 per hour, $30 per day.
Rollin' Cycles is about 1½ miles north of the Mall. Daily rentals are for 24 hours, and while locks and helmets come standard, additional amenities (such as fenders or handlebar bags) cost an additional fee. Kids' bikes aren't available.
Thompson Boat Center, close to Georgetown; 202-333-9543
Price: $7 per hour or $28 per day
Thompson Boat Center is about 1½ miles from the Mall and offers men's and women's cruiser-style bikes. The day rate applies for any rental for more than three hours, and bikes must be returned by closing time. Kids' bikes aren't available, and rentals are first come, first served.
See our Cherry Blossom Festival 2012 Guide here.