Had a quick visit with Tim Kelly and Chris Eatough of BikeArlington at the Arlington County Fair this evening. They were there showing off the new Capital Bikeshare bikes as well as a sample bike station. I was more than impressed. The bike itself, while unorthodox in appearance in comparison to what you usually find in your local bike shop, is actually pretty cool looking in person. Everything is overbuilt to take the inevitable abuse the bikes will receive once they’re released into the wild in September. I’m a huge fan of the massive kickstand. On the ride side, it handles very predictably. Even when pedaling out of the saddle the bike was balanced; so no handling surprises when faced with the hills of Arlington and DC. Finally, as you pedal and move, the front and rear safety lights start to blink. Since you’re generating the energy needed for the lights as you’re pedaling, there’s obviously no need for a dedicated power source. More wins!

The interaction with the bike station couldn’t have been any simpler. Insert your membership key into the slot designated for the bike you chose and a yellow indicator light blinks while it’s thinking. Once it’s verified that you’re good to go, you get a green light and the lock mechanism releases the bike; smooth and simple. It’s interesting to note that the triangular part that the station lock clamps onto also houses the GPS device to track your bike’s usage and location. Each full station is solar powered which in turn means no need to be tied down to the local power grid. The benefit of not being tied to the grid means they can be transported relatively easily and placed where the need is greatest.

There’s not much more than that to the system. It’s remarkably simple and straightforward. Which hopefully translates to more usage from those who normally wouldn’t seek to access bikeshare.

Stop by and check the Capital Bikeshare bike and bike station at the Arlington County Fair through the end of this weekend.