MS. REBECCA SHEIR
I'm Rebecca Sheir, and welcome back to "Metro Connection." With the 4th of July coming up in less than a week, today we're bringing you an hour of stories and interviews all about the notion of independence. In just a few minutes, we'll find out what independence can mean on the dating front. And later in the show, we'll hear all about independence as it relates to one of America's most treasured expatriate artists.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
First, though, how about independent businesses? With the advent of Capital Bikeshare, many small bike shops began to worry the program will ran them out of business. Now that Washingtonians have been bike sharing for almost two years, have those fears come true? We'll find out on our weekly transportation segment, From A to B.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Martin Di Caro headed to several bike shops around town to see whether the worries about Bikeshare were justified and how the culture of cycling is changing here in the nation's capital.
MR. MARTIN DI CARO
Russell Martin treats his bike like his child.
MR. RUSSELL MARTIN
The Trek 7.6 FX. It's a nice fast hybrid bike.
That sounds kind of fancy.
It's, yeah, it's my baby.
Yeah. I love it. Now, it's kind of an extension of me.
The 24-year-old sales manager at a boutique hotel company meets me in Foggy Bottom on his way to work. He commutes on a bicycle every day and got hooked by trying Capital Bikeshare right after the program started.
I ended up selling my car and buying a couple more bicycles, and I haven't looked back since.
So you have how many bikes now?
I guess I have three now. I'm looking for a fourth.
Had D.C. bike shops known the Russell Martins of the world would treat Capital Bikeshare like a gateway drug, they might not have been so nervous. Inside Bicycle Space on 7th and L Streets Northwest, business is brisk. But owner Erik Kugler once wondered if Bikeshare would take away potential customers.
MR. ERIK KUGLER
In the back of my mind, there was that concern.
What's happened since?
Well, what we've seen is an explosion culture.
He sees more bikes on the streets, drivers acting more courteously. And, he says, money people might spend filling their gas tanks is now being spent in the shop and in his neighborhood.
You see new restaurants open up, cafes, knit shops, small businesses like ours. These people are great employers also. We employ 18 people here. We're in the business of culture change.
The Bikeshare program's shortcomings have also brought in more customers. The bikes are a bit heavy, not built for speed, plus the program is so popular it's users often cannot find a bike when they need one or can't find a dock with an open space to return them.
MS. KRISTIN FRONTIERA
When I started riding Bikeshare, there was a phase where I would see another person on a Bikeshare and we'd be like, hey, Bikeshare, this is awesome. And now I see them and I'm like, I need to pedal faster. I need to get to the dock before them.
Kristin Frontiera is a 25-year-old, recently returned Peace Corps volunteer who just bought her own bike on Craigslist for $40. She brings it to Kugler's shop for repairs and to buy other stuff anyone new to the bicycling scene would need.
I'm having work done on it. I'm putting more money into the bike than I spent on it. And I'm spending all of that money here. And then I'm going to buy all the stuff, like I need a basket and a lock and I need lights.
Dan, how are you?
MR. DAN WEST
I'm doing all good.
Across town at City Bikes in Adams Morgan, the story is the same, Bikeshare is credited for more business not less.
Yeah, there were some concerns that it might hurt business for local neighborhood shops. But there had been also kind of hope that you get more and more people cycling.
Dan West is the marketing manager in a shop that's been selling two-wheelers for 25 years.
I'm getting more and more of these people that have loved using the Bikeshare and now are saying, wait, I want something that's my own. I want something that's custom-designed for the kind of riding that I'm doing.
So after immersing myself in this culture, I felt the eyes of the bicycling world glaring down on me and a Bikeshare dock just a couple blocks away. All right, these are supposed to be so fun to ride. So I'm going to give one a try and on the road.
Whoo. Speed up. Oh. Hey, how are you? I'm with WAMU Radio. My name is Martin Di Caro. I'm trying out a Capital Bikeshare bike for the first time.
Very cool. I just bought this bike. It's a Jamis Sport.
What do you think of these bikes?
I think that the concept is really good. I've never ridden one, but I think it's a really cool concept. Yeah.
Actually easy to ride, you can't go very fast but that okay.
Cool. Do you mind if I try it?
See? Bicyclists are one big family. What could better testify the bicycling love than what Michael Samuelson did for his girlfriend Anna Walters. She fell for bicycling after using Capital Bikeshare and so he bought her a brand new bicycle.
MR. MICHAEL SAMUELSON
It was her birthday so that helped.
MS. ANNA WALTERS
Well, actually we went shopping together, buzzing the different shops around town and I did a lot of research online and, I don't know, I found this one and I knew that this is the one.
The one. She was talking about her bike, not her boyfriend. For now. I'm Martin Di Caro.
Have you become a regular cyclist since Capital Bikeshare came to town? We'd love to hear your story. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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