Campus Notebook: Virginia Congressmen Want Bikeshare at Capitol

Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:20pm

Two Virginia Congressmen hope to see a “bike sharing” station installed near the Capitol complex, but their preferred location would need the green light from the Architect of the Capitol.

Democratic Reps. Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly sent a letter to Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers and House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) last week, requesting that the AOC allow Capital Bikeshare to install a station outside the Capitol South Metro Station, a short walk from the House office buildings.

Capital Bikeshare, which launched last year and is run in part by the District Department of Transportation, has placed more than 1,100 bikes in 114 stations across the D.C. metro area. For a fee, anyone can become a member of the program, which allows cyclists to rent a bike and return it to any other kiosk in the city.

The organization has expressed interest in offering bikes near the Capitol, though off the campus itself.

Moran and Connolly, however, say it would be possible to place a station on Capitol grounds without logistical complications or “significant reconfiguration” of security perimeters.

“Placement of a bicycle sharing station close to, and in plain view of, the Metro station makes it far more likely that staff and tourists will utilize bike sharing,” they wrote in the letter.

They added that such a station would reduce traffic congestion, reliance on cars and provide “an effective and exceptionally low-cost way for House visitors to move around the Capitol complex.”

Neither Congressman has received feedback from Ayers or Lungren. Lungren is looking into the issue, spokeswoman Salley Wood said. Ayers “has been working with the Capital Bikeshare Program, the Capitol Police and Congress for several months to identify the best locations,” according to AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki.

Positioning a station on the Capitol campus could cause a hassle, as vans transporting bikes to the kiosk could have trouble navigating police checkpoints.

But Moran and Connolly both said such inconveniences would be worth it.

“It’s a legitimate concern,” Connolly said, “but it’s nothing we couldn’t get around.”

Charges Dropped in Lemonade Stand Case

Charges against three citizens for selling 10-cent cups of lemonade on Capitol grounds have been dropped.

A judge for the District of Columbia Superior Court said Monday that defendants Meg McLain, Will Duffield and Kathryn Dill were free to go.

In August, they were arrested by Capitol Police for running a lemonade stand outside the Capitol and for refusing to shut down operations despite multiple warnings. They were participating in “Lemonade Freedom Day,” a nationwide response to news reports that police officers were shutting down children’s summertime lemonade stands.

Charged with unlawful conduct and vending without a license, McLain, Duffield and Dill faced as many as 180 days in jail. Upon refusing to submit urine samples, they were up against an additional six-month sentence for being in contempt of court.

McLain, a blogger for the website of a self-governed community in Keene, N.H., shared the news with her readers.

“We were able to show another example of how the government will try to crush peaceful people into submission with orders and threats,” she wrote. “It was a great day for all of us, but more importantly, for liberty.”

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider declined to comment.

Former GSA Staffer Sentenced

The last of 11 defendants in a bribery scandal within the General Services Administration was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison.

A Justice Department press release reported that Eric Minor, a former GSA customer service manager, must also pay $118,000 in restitution.

Minor pleaded guilty in May for taking that amount of money in cash kickback payments from six government contractors.

The payments were made in exchange for Minor using his leverage to retain the contractors’ services for maintenance and construction projects at the GSA facilities he managed.

Ten other federal workers and contractors were sentenced for their involvement in the kickback scheme between February 2008 and December 2010.

While each is required to pay back the sums he or she received through bribes, Minor’s share was the largest.

“Some officials believe it is okay to line their own pockets at the expense of taxpayers,” GSA Inspector General Brian Miller said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this attitude.”

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