2204 14th Street, NW To Become A Bike Rental Shop

DSCN1837, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Back in March, the scuttlebutt for this location included a Dunkin Donuts or sushi restaurant. I spoke with a worker who said the spot will become a bike rental shop opening late this week or next week. I have to admit I’m a little surprised. Given the city’s smartbike program renting bikes I’d think that’d be a tough business to compete against. (Particularly because there is a smartbike rack a few streets down at 14th and U.)

Do you think a bike rental shop in this location will thrive?

16 Comment

  • i kinda doubt it. i’m sure they have a business plan, but it seems like bike rentals (outside of a system like smartbike) would only work for tourists, and 14th and u isn’t that much of a tourist draw.

  • Smartbike is a yearly membership and takes a few days to process and get your card. This could be good for tourists if they can find it at 14th and U.

  • You can only rent smartbikes for a limited number of hours and they are so dorky looking that you wind up chickening out, if you have any dignity! So yes, rental bike shop is needed – too bad it’s not in Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle.

  • It might work for loft dwellers around there who haven’t room to keep one and only want to rent for a ride now and then. But when I had tourists visit they just bought new bikes at Target for $159, rode them all over the city for a week than sold them for $100 on Craigslist when they left.

  • man, I would have loved to see a Dunkin Donuts closeby! The only one I know of in DC is the navy yard…

  • Actually, I have always found the smart bike program unappealing because the bike choice is very limited. They have one bike and it looks like it was designed for a 5 year old. So maybe a bike rental shop might work for people who want a bit more selection – tourists and residents.

  • kalorini: where do you live? there’s a dunkin donuts on 17th north of P. there’s one in columbia heights. there’s one at new jersey and rhode island. there’s one on barrack’s row. there’s one at the verizon center. there’s one at new york and bladensburg.

    if you don’t traverse those parts of town, i guess you could have missed them all. but do check their website. a quick search will show you there’s more than one in town.

  • Thanks, IMGoph. (No thanks, RD!).

    As of 3 years ago, I had only seen the one in Navy Yard and Bethesda. I guess I gave up, with the haze of Starbucks clouding my view.

  • I think the bike rental would work. the bikes from the bike share group really aren’t the kind I would ride around the park. So I would rent a mtn bike to go into the park and maybe the next time a road bike to go train, etc.

    I think it could work.

  • Yes! I think this is great idea and my hubby and I would definitely rent bikes from the shop rather than the Smart Bike rack.

  • Maybe I’m just completely underestimating the bike rental market, but I really don’t get it. If you can buy a new bike at Target for $159 or a used bike on craigslist for next to nothing, the rental only makes sense if you want to ride a bike a few times. When you throw in the hassle factor (which I guess could work both ways: it’s a hassle to maintain your own bike, it’s a hassle to go to a rental shop to pick up a bike and have it adjusted for you), why wouldn’t someone just buy a bike?

    So, you’re left with people who only want to use a bike a few times. There is no significant repeat business, so you have to keep getting more and more customers. They’re really going to need to do some innovative marketing to make this work, like doing promotional tie-ins targeted to tourists or people who wouldn’t normally ride bikes.

    Finally, I would think that it would make more sense to have a bike rental shop next to places where people feel comfortable and safe on bikes. In light of all the recent conversation on this blog and my own experiences, 14th and U is NOT a particularly bike-friendly location. If a tourist wants to rent a bike, they’re going to want to ride in Rock Creek Park, along the Mall, or along the Potomac, not through Shaw…

    Best of luck, though! I love seeing alternatives to cars and I hope I’m wrong about this market.

  • I’ve got some experience in this market, and I can definitely tell you that a rental only model outside of major (as in, major) tourist areas (national mall, old town alexandria, etc), is pretty much guranteed to fail. My guess is that the scuttlebutt PoP heard is inaccurate. It’s possible that a used bike store is coming in that has a rental element. But even then, it’s iffy. Plus, there are already two excellent bike shops on or very near 14th. Something’s missing from this picture

  • They are ONLY going to rent bikes? Good luck with that….

  • i’m going to concur that there is no way this is for real

  • I peeked inside yesterday and it looks like it could have a bar, OR it could be bays for displaying clothing – definitely didn’t look like a bike shop. Any updates?

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