CHRISTIE SHELY/THE HOYA After facing opposition from the National Park Service, Capital Bikeshare received permission to begin planning rental stations on the Nation Mall this month.
After facing opposition from the National Park Service, Capital Bikeshare received permission to begin planning rental stations on the Nation Mall this month.

Capital Bikeshare plans to open rental stations on the National Mall despite previous opposition from the National Park Service.

While the National Mall is the District’s prime tourist destination, the National Park Service has resisted the addition of Capital Bikeshare stations to the Mall for months, saying that the stations would tarnish the park’s historical integrity.

While there are rental kiosks surrounding the Mall on Constitution and Independence Avenues as well as 14th Street, none of the bike network’s 114 stations are located on the property itself.

“If you look at the downtown area, there’s a big gap right in the middle where there are no stations, and that’s the Mall property,” spokesperson John Lisle said.

Bill Line, spokesperson for the National Park Service, told the cycling magazine Spokes that the agency was worried that bike dispensaries would detract from the patriotic and historic nature of the park.

“The National Park Service reflects an American heritage and what a particular park means to American citizens, not at [the] convenience of select individuals,” he said.

Additionally, the agency would be required under the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act to conduct an environmental assessment to determine whether a bike station would be harmful to the park’s environment or historical purpose.

According to Line, this legislation has previously prevented the Park Service from considering installing a bike station on the Mall.

“Congress passed laws so they cannot be sidestepped,” he said.

But it now seems that the Park Service has experienced a change of heart after it announced that it hopes to install new Bikeshare stations on the mall as soon as it can raise the funds.

“There are still a number of issues we need to work out, but we are hoping we can resolve those issues so we can start it up early next year. Earlier, we were looking at whether they can get on the Mall, but now we are looking for a way to get them on the Mall,” Parks Service Spokesperson Carol Johnson told The Washington Post.

The project would probably be jointly funded by the District Department of Transportation and the Park Service. Each 10-bike station costs around $50,000 to build and has an annual maintenance cost of almost half that amount.

“We believe it would benefit visitors and residents. The Bikeshare would be a great way to cover the distance between the mall and the memorials,” Lisle said. “For the folks who are on the mall, it gives them another way to get around. Anyone who has walked on the mall knows how distances can bedeceiving.”

Chris Holben, the Bikeshare project manager for DDOT, expressed high hopes for the new station.

“I think that the potential for visitor use is quite high in that region,” he said. “Also, there [are] loads and loads of people who work around the Mall, as well as in those federal buildings surrounding thearea.”

There are three Capital Bikeshare rental stations located in the neighborhood around the Hilltop, including a kiosk immediately outside the university’s front gates.

According to data provided online by Capital Bikeshare, the Georgetown station has received a steady number of users in the past months with 934 departures in May, 993 in June and 933 in July. For the same months, the kiosk on 34th and Wisconsin Avenue counted 567, 649 and 649 rentals, respectively.

For many students, the bike service provides an affordable alternative to taking a taxi cab or the Metro service.

“I know that I’d like to go into D.C. more often, and maybe if there were a more accessible way to get to the Mall I’d go there more often,” Allison Theveny (COL ’14) said.

According to Lisle, no specific plans have been confirmed for the project at this point, thoughBikeshare’s leadership has scheduled a meeting with Park Services to talk about potential locations for the new bike stations. The rental service hopes to have provided over 1 million rides by the time of its first anniversary on Sept. 20.

“[Putting stations on the Mall] is something we’ve been interested in all along and we’ve been talking about it with the Park Service now. It sounds like there’s some movement and that it’s really headedsomewhere.”

Holben agreed that the DDOT sees providing full access to the city’s citizens as a top priority.

“We’d like to provide access city wide. We’d love to get people to the area and back by Bikeshare,” he said.

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