Bicycling in Washington, D.C.
The numerous trails in the District and its surrounding areas are well maintained and clearly marked. Washington's large parks are also popular with cyclists.
East Potomac Park. Cyclists might try the 3-mile loop around the golf course in East Potomac Park at Hains Point (entry is near the Jefferson Memorial). This peninsula, though somewhat less scenic than a run around the Mall, is a favorite training course for dedicated local racers and would-be triathletes. Hains Point is a great place to view Fort McNair and the National War College, as well as to watch planes take off and land from Reagan National Airport across the river. 14th St. SW, Southwest, Washington, DC, 20024. 202/485–9874 National Park Service.
Mount Vernon Trail. Across the Potomac in Virginia, this riverside trail has two sections. The northern part begins near the causeway at Theodore Roosevelt Island across the river from the Kennedy Center. Three and a half miles later it passes Ronald Reagan National Airport and continues on to Mount Vernon, a total distance of 18 miles. This section has slight slopes and almost no interruptions for traffic, making it a delightful biking experience. Even inexperienced bikers enjoy the trail, which provides wonderful views of the Potomac. To access the trail from the District, take the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge or the Rochambeau Memorial Bridge, also known as the 14th Street Bridge. South of the airport, the trail runs down to the Washington Marina. The final mile of the trail's northern section meanders through protected wetlands before ending in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. The trail's 9-mile southern section extends along the Potomac from Alexandria to Mount Vernon. No motorized vehicles (including skateboards, bicycles, scooters, and Segways) are allowed, however. Park Headquarters, Turkey Run Park, McLean, VA, 22101. 703/289–2500. www.nps.gov/gwmp. Arlington Cemetery, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, or Rosslyn.
Biking the Mall
A pleasant loop route begins at the Lincoln Memorial, going north past the Washington Monument, and turning around at the Tidal Basin. Along the way are small fountains and parks for taking a break and getting a drink of water.
Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Members conduct local outreach to encourage biking and do advocacy for a better integrated transportation system linking transit, trails, bicycling, and walking facilitiess. They also educate the public about bike safety. WABA also provides an institutional structure for those looking for organized longer rides. 1803 Connecticut Ave. NW, 3rd fl., Dupont Circle, Washington, DC, 20009. 202/518–0524. www.waba.org. Dupont Circle.
Rentals and Tours
Big Wheel Bikes. This company near the C&O Canal Towpath rents multispeed and other types of bikes hourly or for the day. Rates range from $7–$10 per hour and $35–$100 per day. There is a three-hour minimum. Tandem bikes, kids' bikes, and bikes with baby carriers are also available. Other locations are in Bethesda, near the Capital Crescent Trail, and Alexandria, if you want to ride the Mount Vernon Trail. 1034 33rd St. NW, Georgetown, Washington, DC, 20007. 202/337–0254. www.bigwheelbikes.com.
Bike and Roll. Three-hour, 4- to 8-mile guided tours of downtown Washington operate between early March and Thanksgiving and range in cost from $35 to $60, including bike rental. Advance reservations are required. Tours start from the Union Station, the Mall, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, as well as from Alexandria for rides to Mount Vernon. 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Downtown, Washington, DC, 20004. 202/962–0206. www.bikethesites.com. Union Station.
Capital Bikeshare. One of the nation's largest bike-share programs, with more than 2,500 bikes, lets you pick up a bike at one of more than 300 stations located around Washington and Arlington, Virginia, and then return it at a location near your destination. Using a credit card to pay the 24-hour, three-day, or annual membership fee at a bike station kiosk, you receive a code to unlock a bike. The membership entitles you to an unlimited number of rides during the 24 hours. The first 30 minutes are free, then different rates apply, depending on the amount of time you have the bike. Bikers provide their own helmets. Capital Bikeshare is designed for quick, short trips; but you can take as many trips as you want each day, so design your daylong adventures with short trips in mind. Washington, DC. 877/430–2453. www.capitalbikeshare.com.
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