From A To B: How Do They Keep Those Bikeshare Racks Filled? (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

The Secret Behind Stocked Bikeshare Racks

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
Just one block from The Big Board on 3rd and H, you'll find a station for Capital Bikeshare. It's one of more than 110 Bikeshare stations across D.C. and Arlington, Va. But have you ever wondered how the big share folks time things just right so there's a big available when and where you need it? Well, we have so we look into on our weekly transportation segment From A to B.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:33
To learn more about how the whole Bikeshare shuffle works, Jonathan Wilson road along with the guys Capital Bikeshare calls the re - balancers.

MR. JONATHAN WILSON

00:00:42
Well, before sunrise on a brisk weekday morning, Alejandro Fuentes checks in with a member of the crew he manages for Capital Bikeshare.

MR. ALEJANDRO FUENTES

00:00:51
All right, copy. Do you want to go the National Gallery since you're there and you just clear that up?

WILSON

00:01:01
Fuentes has been with the company since it launched last May and he's in charge of the morning street team responsible for getting those, now ubiquitous, red bicycles to the right places for morning commuters. Officially, Capital Bikeshare calls them re-balancers, but Fuentes also refers to the members of his team as sprinters. And things don't always go as planned as these guys are running around town.

SHEIR

00:01:31
Fuentes keeps track of where bikes are needed with a computer program similar to the one the public has access to on the Capital Bikeshare website. He says things can get particularly hectic at stations near McPherson Square and Adams Morgan.

FUENTES

00:01:44
Like, you can put 10 bikes, 12 bikes in five minutes and then you turn around and they all gone.

WILSON

00:01:52
The trick during the morning commute is to make sure the docking stations outside of downtown have a steady supply of bikes for riders heading to work and to make sure downtown stations get cleared so people arriving have a place to dock.

WILSON

00:02:07
It's not something that happens by itself.

FUENTES

00:02:09
No. Especially when everybody has to be at work at 9:00 o'clock and then everybody's looking for a space to park their bikes. So it's a big challenge.

WILSON

00:02:24
Fuentes is driving around in the companies all purpose vehicle, a small SUV equipped with a bike rack that can hold four bikes. Nick Hritz drives a larger van that can hold dozens of bikes. Right now, he's refilling a station at 11th and Kenya.

MR. NICK HRITZ

00:02:38
The toughest days are when the weather is really lousy and you're just bored because there's not much moving.

WILSON

00:02:46
Ritz says, most of the time he's busy making right turns to avoid red lights so he can make it to his next station. But he says, even if he's late, Bikeshare users, so far, have been waiting with a smile.

HRITZ

00:02:58
You come up to a station where someone's waiting to dock or someone's walked up, looking for a bike and they say, perfect timing, thanks. And, you know, sometimes they just say, thanks, thanks for doing your job. So that's really great. But it happens all the time.

WILSON

00:03:10
Ritz says that kind of reaction may start to fade as the program expands and the honeymoon period ends. But that'll also mean more people are relying on bikes to get around and that's just fine with him. I'm Jonathan Wilson.

SHEIR

00:03:30
If you use Capital Bikeshare, are you usually able to find a bike when and where you need it? We want to hear all your bike rental tales. Email us at metro@wamu.org.

SHEIR

00:03:50
Time now for a quick break, but when we get back, meeting a man for whom time really is money.

MR. FIMA NOVIK

00:03:56
You know, I go on vacation and still look at the time. It's, like, you have a cell phone, you have this -- I mean, you cannot get away from time. I mean, really, it's all around us, no?

SHEIR

00:04:05
We'll hear reflections from a local watchmaker and more on "Metro Connection," here on WAMU 88.5.
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