[Coldwell Banker's Jeanne Harrison (left) with clients Laura Uhlig and Sean Marlaire]
Cyclists are everywhere. The existence of Cycle Wars and the constant expansion (until recently) of Capital Bikeshare make it apparent that jumping on a bike is a more prevalent mode of transit for many of D.C.'s commuters and a more visible recreational activity. So, perhaps it was only a matter of time before Curbed found out about Jeanne Harrison, the realtor for Coldwell Banker who offers to take her clients around to visit homes via bicycle. Not everyone takes Harrison up on her offer to see the city from a cycle track, but enough do so that she has earned the reputation of being the realtor on the bike. Curbed caught up with Harrison, who has lived on Capitol Hill since 1985 and worked with Coldwell Banker since 2004 about some of her more memorable trips with clients and her favorite routes in the city.
You've developed this reputation as a realtor on a bicycle. Have you been doing this job on the bicycle for the entire ten years?
I think it's in the past five years that I've gotten more people out on bikes. I try to get as many people as possible out on a bike because it really is a great way to see the city. There's so many people driving that traffic has gotten so much worse over the years that I've lived here. It really is the best way to get around and there are bike lanes almost everywhere you want to go. Obviously, not everyone wants to do that. I do drive but if I can get around by bike, I'd prefer it.
What are situations where you'll find that you will need to use the car?
If it's pouring rain, it's not optimal to go on a bike. If it's a long distance, if I have a family in the car -- you'll get a whole family that wants to go out and look at properties together. Various reasons that anyone needs a car, we'll go out and look at stuff in a car.
What percentage of your clients will join you on a bicycle?
Maybe 10%. It's certainly not that many. I hope that it will become more and more. I'm always happy to encourage people to get on a bicycle because it's an excellent way to see the city and get around. It's good for the environment. It's good for you, physically but not much more than 10% of the people that I take out are on a bike.
Have you gotten more people out on bikes in recent years?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. Because I used to have maybe one or two a year. It's not like there are people beating down my door to get on a bike, but people know that if they want to go out on bike to look at properties, my name sort of tends to surface or I certainly hope it would. A lot of people around the Hill know that's kinda how I get around.
Since you bring it up that the reputation is amongst people on the Hill, do you find that you're selling to people that are already residents of D.C. or Capitol Hill?
We have a pretty broad mix of people. There are a lot of people moving into D.C. from the suburbs or from other parts of the city. It's a great place to be. We serve the whole city, but most of our business is on Capitol Hill. There are people moving from one neighborhood to another or within the same area, but I don't think that really matters as far as whether it's a good place to bike or not. A few years back, I remember a couple that were diehard bicyclists and we went out in July or August on one of the hottest days of the year and the three of us were just drenched. But we went from Capitol Hill to Brookland, all over the place. They ultimately bought in Shaw. But we did most of it on bike.
I don't suppose it's ever started to rain on you at any time during these tours.
No, not that I recall but I often wear high boots or a jacket or a vest or something so that I'm highly visible if it does start to rain. I usually have a ziplock bag for my iPhone.
Are there any routes in particular that you especially love?
Well, going down East Capitol is lovely because there's a bike lane coming and going and if you're heading west, you can see that Capitol. That's always a lovely place to go. E Street has a bike lane that's pretty easy to get across the lower part of the city and R Street is one that I use a bit for the middle part if I have to get across the city. I don't only ride in the bike lanes but I prefer it if I can and I always wear a helmet. I will not get on a bike without a helmet.
What are some of the memorable bike rides you've been on outside of work?
Last year my husband and I -- we are both fairly hardcore bicyclists -- for our 25th wedding anniversary and my birthday and the hundredth anniversary of the Tour de France we actually rode a week in the Alps during Tour de France. We had to go over the Alps in the morning before the Tour de France riders came over in the afternoon and it was one of the highlights of my life. It's just a really awesome way to see things: by bike. I'm an early riser and I wake up most mornings at 5 o'clock or so, in the spring when it's light out and I ride the Mt. Vernon trail for 25 or 30 miles and pretend like I'm commuting for work. So, that's sort of my start of the day: my exercise for the day. Then I come back, take a shower, go out and be a realtor.