The Phenomenal Success of Capital Bikeshare
Nearly three years ago Streetfilms took a day trip to Washington, D.C. to see their Smart Bike DC in action. We found the trial bike share system a fun ride with great potential, but with only 120 bikes there wasn't a great sense of widespread use.
Flashforward to 2011 and with over 1100 bicycles and 110 stations D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare's is amazing testament to having to "go big or go home" when deploying bike share programs. Currently the largest bike share system in the United States, the District's 2.0 version gives users much more flexibility and options to accomplish short errands, commute to work, and to integrate other transit modes into their daily lives.
In fact, the next phase of expansion has just been announced, with 18 more stations and 265 more bikes coming this Fall.
The handsome red bikes are easy to ride, with one swipe of a keycard you're off and biking. During the am and pm commutes (and lunch hours) you'll see the bikes in very heavy rotation. But what left Streetfilms most flabbergasted was how many people were riding them in full business attire in the hot & humid summers around the Capital. If that isn't a sign of success, what is?
Streetfilms would like to thank the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) for partnering with us on this project.
Speaker: [00:04] Well it’s so easy to use. You come up to a bike, you make your adjustments, you stick in your key card and you ride away. It’s great.
Speaker: [00:11] Instead of taking the metro and then transferring to another metro line, I’ll take the bike share to the red line and eliminate the metro transfer. It kind of makes the commute much easier.
It’s a good way to see DC instead of walking around.
Speaker: [00:24] And it saves your leg muscles and energy for the actual museum and stuff to see.
Josh Stevens: [00:27] Once I got in the swing of it at about a month I just found that I was riding absolutely everywhere.
Chris Holben: [00:40] Bike sharing seemed like a perfect match for DC. It’s a dense urban area, a lot of people like to bike and we want to get more people out biking. We have 114 stations with about 1100 bikes. People join bike share for a year, a month or a day, and they receive a key in the mail for a year member or they’ll use their credit card to go up if you’re a tourist user. You can take any of the bikes from any of the stations and return it to any other station.
Matthew J Klein: [01:07] We understood that the bike share programme was going to come to Washington in a big way and so we wanted to be an early adapter. It’s been well executed in the way that D Dot has approached it, so we couldn’t be more happy with the programme.
Matt Pearson: [01:18] We like street life. We like people out on the streets. It’s great for business to have people in cafés, people riding bikes down the street, more people walking from place to place during the work hour, it just means that many more people circulating through the Downtown area in an easy, healthy and affordable way.
Meleah Geertsma: [01:35] DC is very much a professional biking city. Everyone bikes around in their suits, in their work clothes. And I’ve used it a number of times when I’m dressed up to go straight into work.
Shin-Pei Tsay: [01:46] I started to use it because I live in New York City and I come down to DC for work and because I can’t keep a bike in the office and I go straight to the office from the train station I actually use bike share to get around town. I’ve been using it for meetings and getting around late at night. It’s just been really convenient.
Josh Stevens: [02:02] I know at any given time I can get to pretty much anywhere I’m going which is in about a three/four mile radius in about 15 minutes.
Chris Holben: [02:07] It’s a simple, easy bike. It’s three speeds, it’s got a basket and a bell, a built-in light so you can use it at night.
Speaker: [02:15] They’re safe, they’re solid, they’ve got a nice style to them, they’re safe for young people and old people, and they’re kind of cool too.
Meleah Geertsma: [02:22] It’s good to adjust the seat first, put your bag into the front, you know it’s very easy to just start out within a minute so of getting to the station. It really doesn’t take much time at all.
Speaker: [02:32] I walk out my door I get on the bike, I drop it off here and then I go. My favourite part is that I don’t have to worry about my bike getting stolen.
Speaker: [02:41] After work I’ll take it to go to the gym or if I have to go pick up my son at school I’ll cycle. There’s a bike share ride outside his school, so I’ll drop the bike off there and then we can metro it home on the bus.
Chris Holben: [02:50] Part of our system is to keep the system clean and operating whether it’s oil and change, fixing brake cables. And then another major part of our contractor job is to redistribute bikes. So if a station is full, like it typically is Downtown in the morning, the van comes by, picks up 10 or 15 bikes and takes them back uptown.
Speaker: [03:10] The spotcycle app is great because you can check and see how many bikes are there, you can see how many docks are there. But sometimes it’s frustrating if you get to a bike station, you arrive at your destination and there are no bikes left, you can alleviate all that by just checking out the availability of the open docks.
Matthew J Klein: [03:24] Well any new tools, any new choices that we can bring into the transportation equation that people have is going to improve mobility for everybody in Washington so it’s a constructive thing for the economic health of Washington in general.
Speaker: [03:44] I kept seeing all of these red bikes zooming past me when I was walking to that, you know it just sort of hit me on the head, why haven’t I signed up for a bike share yet?
Chris Holben: [03:52] Right now we have about 14,000 annual members. The majority of those live in DC and Arlington and then we’ve had about 40,000 day users since we’ve launched. And those numbers are increasing.
Josh Stevens: [04:03] Without really changing anything else in my lifestyle, since I started I’ve dropped about 25 pounds.
If you’re close to bike share now, you have access to a whole other
group of people that you didn’t have access to before. The Downtown
business community and also the business communities all around our
neighbourhoods in DC really believe in having sustainable forms of transportation
in their areas improves their bottom line.