6 Greener Ways to Get Around Town

Smartbike DC
Smartbike DC

Sometimes taking out the old clunker is unavoidable, like when you need to stock up on super-sized packages of toilet paper at Costco. Most of the time, however, there are loads of other more eco-friendly ways to get around town. Here are are a few:

1. Hoof It. According to the Brookings Institute, DC is one of the most walkable cities in the country. Strap on a pair of sneakers, load up the SIGG bottle, and you can get from Columbia Heights to Dupont in 20 minutes or less (I’ve done it). Google Maps will tell you exactly how far it is from point A to point B, and everything in between. Not sure where to go? Try a walking tour with DC By Foot.

2. Hop on the Bus. My memory of riding the bus when I was a kid included cranky drivers and being crammed into a space so hot you could nearly fry an egg on the seats (why anyone would want to is another story). Well, not much has changed except the buses now take SmarTrip cards so you don’t have to fish around for change or a crumpled transfer and most are air-conditioned. The drivers, I’m happy to report, have not lost their edge.

3. Circulate. The hipper, shinier cousin of the WMATA bus, the DC Circulator is, as the website says, a cheap date at just $1 a ride. Sure, the route is limited but it covers Georgetown, Adams Morgan, the Smithsonian, Union Station, the Convention Center, SW Waterfront, and Capitol Hill. Plus, a new mobile app provides real-time info on your bus’s whereabouts.

4. Rent-a-Bike. You’re no Lance Armstrong, but occasionally you like to feel the wind in your hair and your feet on the pedals. Enter SmartBike, America’s first self-service public bike rental program. There are currently 10 rental spots around the city including in Foggy Bottom, Shaw, Dupont Circle, and Logan Circle. A $40 annual subscription entitles you to bike usage within a 24-hour period.

5. Pimp Your Ride. The recently launched CoachRider bills itself as an “earth-friendly private driving service” complete with a fleet of hybrid sedans.  The company offers several subscription options from three to 10 hours per month. Enviroride also features hybrid luxury cars so you can get to the airport or a special event in eco-friendly style.

6. Hail a Greener Taxi. You’ll probably still need to interrupt your driver’s animated cell phone conversation to give him directions to your destination, but at least with enviroCAB you’ll be secure knowing that you just rode in a taxi with 60% less emissions than your standard Arlington taxicab.

One more thing….no matter where you go or how you decide to get there, this handy map will help you find places to eat, shop, and more along the way. Now, get a move on.

Go, SmartBike, Go

A few weekends ago, I was strolling near the National Portrait Gallery when I noticed a rack of groovy retro-looking red and white bikes. Turns out, Clear Channel and the DC Department of Transportation are applying the Zipcar model to bikes by offering SmartBikes at various points throughout the city. This is the first high-tech car-sharing program in the U.S., although other similar programs already exist (and are successful) in Paris and Barcelona.

You can rent one of the earth-friendly vehicles at 10 self-service stations around downtown DC including Foggy Bottom, McPherson Square, Dupont Circle, and Logan Circle. And this Saturday, September 27th, there is no better time to channel your inner Lance Armstrong because it’s Bike DC day. So, leave your four-wheel gas-guzzler at home, grab a helmet, and sign up for an online subscription to SmartBike DC for just $40 a year (up to three hours per trip).