The City Hub: People-Managed Bike Share

In March 2010, Revolution Cycles, an independent bicycle retailer in the DC metro area, opened its fifth location. This new shop, the City Hub, is no ordinary bike shop, however. After more than a decade of success in traditional bicycle retail with Revolution Cycles, owners Mike Hamannwright and Santiago Pinkey Gonzalez decided to venture into people-managed bicycle sharing and to work towards getting more butts on bikes, for errands, for fitness and for fun. These guys understand the utility of cycling as well as anyone in the industry. From Revolution’s first days as a single store in Georgetown, DC serving bike messengers, college students and enthusiasts to the later years in which the company maintains programs with local police, government entities, schools, and private firms (and bike messengers, college students and enthusiasts!), Mike, Pinkey and their team have worked with bike lovers and users in every situation imaginable. The latest addition the Revolution Cycles family, located in Crystal City, Virginia, gives even more people access to bicycles, and it is another step towards increasing DCs awareness of the utility of cycling.

Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
Bike sharing is most commonly understood as an automated system with at least one station that provides individuals with convenient, low-cost access to bicycles for short term, short distance trips. Clear Channel Outdoor and the District Department of Transportation have partnered in DC to create Smartbike DC, a self-service system with one hundred bikes and ten stations around DC, and there are many other examples of automated systems around the world. The City Hub, however, is home to a fixed-point, people-managed bicycle sharing program. The shop sells cycling accessories and clothing, includes a full-service tech department as well as offers rental options for visitors interested in hourly or daily rentals, but the primary focus of the Hub is its bike share program.For only $25 per year, local residents can use one of the Hubs one hundred Trek hybrid bicycles for up to three hours each day, seven days each week. Members pay an annual registration fee, and can make a reservation in a few minutes online, making the pick-up and return process easy and efficient. With the online reservation option, the participant can be sure that a bike is available in his or her size and staff can ready the bike for the rider before his or her arrival. Although the bikes need to be picked up and returned to the same location, members can take advantage of the program to run errands during a lunch break or after work, or the bikes can be used for fitness riding and sightseeing, as the shop is just two short blocks from the Mt. Vernon trail, which leads into the heart of DC. Helmets, locks, handlebar bags and staff experience are also part of the package at the City Hub; an automated system isnt likely to give you advice on the safest route to your destination or recommendations for local restaurants.
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
The people-managed operation has an additional benefit that truly speaks to the companys desire to reach new cyclists and expand the use of bicycles for all purposes. Not only are staff members on hand to assist riders with saddle height, shifting and ride routes, but the Hub also leads a number of weekly rides that encourage both veteran cyclists and brand new riders to take a spin on a guided, casual tour of the community. The Hub hosts weekly themed rides on Saturday evenings, such as a Singles Ride and a Monuments at Night Ride, as well as Lunch Spins on Fridays, all with the goal of getting more people to experience the joy of riding and to realize how simple hopping on a comfortable bike for a quick spin can be. With knowledgeable staff leading and supporting these rides, newbies can learn how to safely ride in a group and on public roads, and experienced cyclists can find new ways to enjoy pedaling with a purpose. Particularly for individuals who have not owned or ridden a bike in decades, these rides allow people test out their legs again without investing in their own bikes, and the results thus far have been largely successful.
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
Traditional automated bike sharing programs certainly have a distinct utility that cannot be matched by a fixed-point program, but the alternative benefits that are offered by a people-managed solution are extremely valuable as well. The innovative idea has generated quite a bit of interest- Gary Fisher was the Hub’s first official guest when the shop opened its doors the week of the 2010 National Bike Summit, and other industry greats such as John Burke, President of Trek Bicycle Corporation, have stopped in to check out the new concept. In only a few months, the Hub has put more than one thousand butts on bikes, and many of these butts have been away from bikes for quite a few years. Whether the end result is helping less experienced cyclists understand the utility of bicycles or reinvigorating daily bike commuters with a new kind of cycling adventure, the City Hub has already made great strides in accomplishing its goal of making bicycles more accessible and helping its community become more active.
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles
Image Credit: Revolution Cycles


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One thought on “The City Hub: People-Managed Bike Share”

  1. […] bags, and locks) on hand that are available both for renters and bike sharers. Initially, the bike share program was only accessible for residents and employees that lived and worked within the official […]

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