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Capital Bikeshare Bike Ends Up On Seattle Street, Prompting Questions

This Capital Bikeshare bike was spotted in Washington... state.
Photo by Tracy Clayton
This Capital Bikeshare bike was spotted in Washington... state.

Capital Bikeshare is a hit in Washington. But Washington state? That's where Tracy Clayton, a D.C.-based photographer, recently found one of the iconic red bikes, locked up to a street sign in Seattle.

"D.C. hide yo kids, hide yo bikes...Someone has rode a Capital Bikeshare all the way to Seattle," he wrote on his Instagram account, which was promptly shared on Reddit, a social network, prompting similar befuddlement as to how one of the bikes—which only have three gears, weigh in at over 35 pounds and charge by the hour after the first 30 minutes of use—could have made it across the country.

Well, officials at the D.C. Department of Transportation are pretty sure of two things: the bike wasn't stolen, and it certainly wasn't ridden across the country. "We think we may have loaned them the bike," says Reggie Sanders, a spokesman with the D.C. Department of Transportation. "Certainly no one rode it across the country, and it's not stolen."

A loaner would make some sense, as Seattle is planning its own bike-sharing system, set to be unveiled in Spring 2014. It would be run by Alta, the same company that runs the system in D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery County.

That being said, a theft wouldn't be unthinkable: earlier this year, officials said that since Capital Bikeshare launched in 2010, 15 bikes have been stolen. How about a cross-country ride? Despite the cost and distance, Bikeshare bikes have also been used for other stunts, including for the biking segment of a local triathlon.

We'll update once we get a firm response on how exactly the Bikeshare bike ended up in Seattle.

UPDATE, 9:50 a.m.: Sanders says that DDOT now thinks that it was Alta that loaned Seattle the bike.

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