Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Capital Bikeshare hits new 2012 landmarks

February 14, 2012 - 01:25 PM
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(Photo: flickr/roryfinneren)

This week, Capital Bikeshare hit 1.5 million trips in what has been less than a year and a half of operation. The expanding bikeshare service also notes that it's installed 600 new bike docks since November of last year.

Perhaps we have our mild winter to thank for how much the numbers have accelerated since last year. Capital Bikeshare was founded in September of 2010, hit a half million rides at the start of summer 2011, hit a million rides on the morning of its birthday on September 20, 2011, and now hits 1.5 million a little under four and a half months later. The service heralded its 110 stations and 1,100 bikes throughout last year but its size is constantly evolving, with regular Twitter updates pointing to new docks and encouraging news. There's little question that Capital Bikeshare will tout two million rides by its second birthday — and perhaps even 2.5 or three, given the expansions taking place. I wouldn't be shocked. Capital Bikeshare will even, finally, come to the National Mall this year.

Last week we learned that Capital Bikeshare has recovered a surprisingly large share of its operating costs through its revenue. In D.C., Capital Bikeshare earned $2.5 million in revenue and cost $2.1 million in operating costs. Not included are what I imagine to be rather substantial marketing and management costs.

WMATA transportation analyst Justin Antos has sought to decipher our local bikeshare data in several recent posts on his personal blog. See his maps, where he not only shows how there are a high amount of casual users riding around the National Mall, the White House, and Georgetown, but also around spots like Pentagon City and H Street. He focuses specifically on the 1.36 million bikeshare trips from 2011. He comes up with fascinating, useful statistics — 88% of Capital Bikeshare rides last less than 30 minutes, he reports (members can ride under 30 minutes for free). Another recent report provides a fuller picture and suggests bikeshare members are especially educated and overwhelmingly white (although I question whether such a report fully captured the demographics of bikeshare users and how closely that resembled the broader range of bicyclists). The University of Maryland also presents a terrific visualization of how the system is used, visible here.

All of Capital Bikeshare's progress is especially significant because our system has begun to serve as a model for emerging bikeshare systems across the country.

When Chicago bicyclists talk about target users, they refer to how Post editor Bill Walsh discussed Capital Bikeshare. Portland's mayor took a ride on one of our bikeshare bikes in recent weeks in anticipation of his city launching a network. This fall, Alta showed off our red Capital Bikeshare bikes to New Yorkers in Time Square to fire enthusiasm for a similar system coming to NYC. Let's hope our own model can continue to sustain itself as it continues to aggressively expand and its popularity grows in 2012.

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CaBi in Times Square. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
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