Riding Bikes Among the Cherry Blossoms

How do you avoid DC’s traffic and tired feet at the same time? Consider taking advantage of DC’s Capital Bikeshare program and let your legs do the work.

Intent on visiting Washington on the day of the Cherry Blossom Festival, a day known for its crowds as well as its beautiful flowers, we took the advice of our hosts. We parked our car in Springfield, Virginia, and joined hordes of other tourists in line to buy the fare.

Crowded Metro station.

After a few minutes surveying the situation, we switched to the shorter line of ticket buyers and purchased a SmarTrip card ($10) for each of us, knowing with its discounted fares, it would pay for itself over the three days we would be in town (as well as more than pay for itself in the reduced stress and aggravation of waiting in long lines!).

Six stops away, we got off the Metro at Pentagon City and began looking for our next mode of transportation. We found a row of bicycles on Hayes Street, entered our credit card information on the machine and paid our $7 daily membership fee, pulled out three bikes, and hopped on.

Red bikes with yellow writing.

For the next couple of hours we rode our bikes around the Pentagon, along the Potomoc River and through Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Park, over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, past the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and along the Tidal Basin where cherry blossoms and onlookers provided many obstacles along the way.

Red car, gold statue, bikes across street

Crowd of people along base of memorial.

People hanging out beneath the cherry blossoms.

If you choose to try the Capital Bikeshare program, be forewarned the cost to ride the bikes increases exponentially with the time you choose to use it. It’s much more cost effective (and very doable), to ride a bike from one station to another where you can borrow a new bike. Each 30 minutes on a new bike is free. After 30 minutes on the same bike, an additional hour will only cost you $6, but renting the bike for 3 hours will cost you $30.

With stations all over the DC area, you can use the free app to find a location and determine the availability of bikes.

Trip taken April 2013.

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