High gas prices, temperatures increase biking

People around the area are ditching their gas-guzzling cars for vehicles of a two-wheeled variety.

Gas prices are sitting at $3.96 cents a gallon, and much more in parts of our area. That’s pushing some, like Isaac Nuell, to try out bike sharing services.

Nuell is trading his car keys for a bike badge. "With $4 a gallon it’s just not driving around. You know you just can't afford it, so taking the bike for 30 minutes doesn't cost anything, so why not?" Nuell said.

Why not squeeze in a little exercise while you're at it?

“It makes you feel good to ride a bike,” bike share user Luis Torrealva said. “It's not like San Francisco, its all pretty flat.”

Cost, convenience, workout or weather, whatever the reason, riders are jumping on the biking bandwagon. Rentals for Capital Bikeshare have doubled in the last couple of month from 2,000 to 3,000 trips per day to now 4,000 to 5,000.

While daily users account for 22,000 of those trips, 11,000 people now pay for annual memberships. With this week's tepid temperatures, those numbers are likely to rise.

“Weather like this, it's a 70 degree week, I think we're going to have some record-breaking days this week,” said Chris Holben, who manages the bikesharing program for the the District Department of Transportation.

The weather is what brought Zachary Bartsherer and Megan Miraglia to the station at Dupont Circle to “enjoy the beautiful day,” he said. “I'm a college graduate and don’t have a job yet, so I'm going to have as much fun as I can,” he said.

College student Megan Miraglia prefers biking to taking the Metro.
“Just to get from American University to here and back cost me $5,” she said, standing at Dupont Circle. “It’s better to sort of do it with a bike and get all over for the same price.”

The biggest boost to bikeshare actually came last Sunday night as news of Osama bin Laden's death broke. Students and young people throughout the district jumped on the bikes to get down to the White House to take part in the impromptu celebrations. Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., 550 trips were recorded. Five times more than on a usual Sunday night at the same time.