Washington, DC

“Rock Creek Conservancy volunteers posing with their trashy trophies at the end of a long day cleaning up Rock Creek.”

From Rock Creek Conservancy:

“It’s clear to us; the new dockless bike-shares are finding their way into Rock Creek more often than the fully dockable Capital Bikeshares.  We’re generally pro-biking here at Rock Creek Conservancy. So, we find ourselves faced with a tricky question. Could dockless bikes bad for our favorite lands and waters?

Rock Creek Conservancy volunteers spent the last weekend cleaning up Rock Creek during their Tenth Annual Extreme Cleanup. Volunteers worked at more than 40 sites throughout the Rock Creek watershed (with more than 60 throughout the entire month).

The Extreme Cleanup is a crowdsourced volunteer event, and so we rely on the reporting of our volunteer site leaders to get a count on the trash and recycling that we find in Rock Creek. Because of this, the numbers for the entire event are still coming in. However, there is one number we know for sure: dockless bikes. 

At the mouth of Rock Creek, where it empties into the Potomac River, we found five bike-share bikes and one scooter fully submerged and abandoned beneath the rushing waters of Rock Creek.

The breakdown? 3 Mobikes, 1 Limebike, 1 Lime-S Electric Scooter and 1 Capital Bikeshare bike. That’s a 5:1 dockless to dockable ratio! 

There were also a few more bike-share bikes which were found dumped in the brush along the creek bank, including one more Like-S Scooter and a handful of bicycles (personal, dockless, and dockable.) 

This is, of course, just a quick snapshot of what might be a more significant problem. We need more data, but if our volunteers’ findings this weekend are indicative of a dumping pattern, we could be seeing more lonely bikes in Rock Creek.

So, that’s where you come in. We encourage people to volunteer with us so that we can discover more trash trends. We’re also piloting a new citizen science initiative called “Adopt-A-Stream” with Alice Ferguson Foundation. This program will help us get a quantitative handle on the trash in our local waters so that we can act more strategically when it comes to cleaning up Rock Creek.

And, of course, if you find a bike-share bike in Rock Creek, let us know.”


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