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Cherry Blossom Festival 2011: Ride a Bike to the Blooms

Seven places in Washington where you can rent bikes

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 DDOTDC.

When about one million visitors descend on the District for the 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. Luckily 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.

(P.S. If you’re not sure where to lock your rental, the National Park Service offers free, volunteer-staffed bike valet service at the Jefferson Memorial parking lot on the first two weekends of the festival.)

Big Wheel Bikes, Georgetown; 202-337-0254
$7 per hour or $25 a day for a hybrid bike (lowest price available)

Big Wheel Bikes is about two miles from the Tidal Basin and offers several types of bikes, including tandem, kid’s bikes, trail-a-bike attachments for kids, and bikes with baby seats. Helmets are provided but locks aren’t. You must rent for at least three hours if you choose to pay hourly, and 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 from October through March.

Bike and Roll
, Downtown, 202-842-2453 and Union Station, 202-962-0206
Price depends on the type of bike rented. Two hours, $10 to $20; Four hours, $18 to $40; 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, kid’s bikes, jogging strollers, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and bike attachments to transport young children. You also get a helmet, bike tube, tire pump, lock, and handlebar bag for your belongings for free. Online booking is available only for 24-hour rentals—all others are first-come, first-served. Make sure that the rental you’re interested in is offered at the location you’re visiting.

Bikes to Borrow
; 202-684-8086
$45 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 kid’s bikes, helmets, locks, and racks on request. You need a credit card and can make reservations on the Web site 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
$5 one-day membership and $1.50 per 30 minutes
Capital Bikeshare has 110 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 $5 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 key to release a bike—then ride to the station nearest your destination. You’ll be charged $1.50 for every 30 minutes spent undocked, and the first 30 minutes are free. 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
, Georgetown; 202-965-3601
$5 per hour, $35 per day

In addition to standard bike, this shop also offers kid’s 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
$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. Kid’s bikes aren’t available.

Thompson Boat Center, close to Georgetown; 202-333-9543
$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. Kid’s bikes aren’t available, and rentals are first-come, first-served.

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