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DC rolled out largest bike share program in US
September 23, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

DC just rolled out largest bike share program in US this week, Washington DC's and the Arlington (VA) County's bikesharing programs joined forces to create Capital Bikeshare with regional service of over 1,100 bikes and 114 stations throughout the area, with plans to include several other nearby Virginia and Maryland counties in the near future.

Under the plan, members pay a fee, and can then use bikes parked at bike stations throughout the region. A bike can be picked up at any station at any time of day and left at any destination.

Coming in on the heels of the new, modern looking Bike Transit Center at Union Station, DC, along with one of the more extensive urban bike path system, the city is making a bid to become one of the most bike-friendly in the country.
posted by crunchland (81 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Paging peeedro....
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:40 AM on September 23, 2010


Wow, they really crank the prices up the longer you use it. $22.50 for three hours, on top of the membership fees ($5+). I wonder if that was to not compete with the tourist bike rental places.
posted by smackfu at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2010


This is an extension of the BIXI system that was first pioneered in Montreal last year. Thus far it has been adopted in Melbourne, London and Minneapolis in addition to D.C. Having been a member of the system since its introduction here, I have to say it is one of the best things to happen to our city. Hopefully D.C. will follow some of the other innovations that Montreal has been introducing with BIXI, like discounted combined transit and bike memberships, as well as triple passes for use with the short term car rental system.
posted by jpwhite at 11:44 AM on September 23, 2010


$22.50 does seem a little high for three hours... But I love the Bike Station! We need to get one o' those in Philly.
posted by Mister_A at 11:45 AM on September 23, 2010


Wahoo! Also note that, while it is the largest bikeshare program in the US, its still only half the size of the originators of the program, Montreal's Bixi, with twice as many bikes and stations.
posted by googly at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2010


I like the idea but I do think the pricing is a bit much. $70 for a day of biking around the city?
posted by ghharr at 11:49 AM on September 23, 2010


Hmm... I just paid $14/hour, $28 total plus tax for like 1hr50m, on Sunday for a bike rental at Bike and Roll in Manhattan. So $22.50 for 3 hours doesn't sound that reasonable.
posted by exhilaration at 11:52 AM on September 23, 2010


whoops, doesn't sounds that *UN*REASONABLE
posted by exhilaration at 11:53 AM on September 23, 2010


TheWashCycle suggests that without SmartBike (an earlier and smaller biking sharing program) "there might not be a Capital Bikeshare - not now at least." I hope it takes off.
posted by exogenous at 11:54 AM on September 23, 2010


They're not meant for a leisurely bike around the city. For that, go to a tourist bike rental place.

Here in London, they're used by people who, for example, arrive by public transit in one part of the city and just want to hop on a bike and be 5 blocks away very quickly.

If you return it in less than 30 minutes, it is free. (Both in DC and London)
posted by vacapinta at 11:54 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, really seems aimed at the very short trips, where you take less than 30 minutes to get from one station to another. Just hope there is space at the station you are going to.
posted by smackfu at 11:54 AM on September 23, 2010


The idea is to encourage use for short trips between neighborhoods. It's not meant to be used for a joyride out on the trails, it's a heavy 3-speed. But it wouldn't be a bad option heading from NoMa to Columbia Heights.
posted by Vhanudux at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2010


Note: Bike share participants may be required by the UN to have abortions.
posted by rusty at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep wondering if the bikes -- which are pretty much ugly as hell -- will end up in the Potomac, the way many supposedly ended up in the canals of Amsterdam.
posted by crunchland at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2010


The scheme is aimed at short trips, hence the low initial cost (London is free up to 30 mins, GBP 1 to an hour) but higher costs for long journeys. The idea is that people use the bikes to go somewhere rather than using them for sightseeing etc. Other hire shops can deal with that side of the market. I could cycle across central London during rush hour in 30 mins so it's handy.

Works great apart from a few places where NIMBY residents have stopped racks from appearing leading to a load of the bikes being in a warehouse rather than out on the streets.
posted by i_cola at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2010


So I thought it was pricey too, then I realized you just have to pay for the time that you ride -- you bike from one station to another (say, 30-45 minutes), then park it at the station, do what you need to do, and check another bike out when you want to leave.
posted by spiderskull at 12:01 PM on September 23, 2010


One other cool thing is that a six pack fits perfect inside the front basket... almost like the designers used that as the size requirement...
posted by jpwhite at 12:03 PM on September 23, 2010


I keep wondering if the bikes -- which are pretty much ugly as hell -- will end up in the Potomac, the way many supposedly ended up in the canals of Amsterdam.

Did the Amsterdam program require a credit card number and tell members up front that "The bike remains your responsibility until it has been properly locked at a bike dock, or handed over to a Capital Bikeshare representative" and "You may be charged for the cost of recovery or replacement of the bike"?
posted by kittyprecious at 12:05 PM on September 23, 2010


Minneapolis's system is pretty great (I'm a member). It's a little. Different in philosophy though -- there's around a thousand bikes, but all in the downtown core spread out over just a couple of square miles. The theory is that saturating a small area will get more riders than a larger, thinner network. The real test will be next summer, when the city is opening a few major new bike trails.
posted by miyabo at 12:05 PM on September 23, 2010


This was implemented in Melbourne, Australia, last year and has been a colossal failure. Why? Mandatory helmet laws. In order to use the bike share you have to provide your own helmet, and anyone who's going to do that is probably going to provide their own bike too. No-one uses it and the bike racks are always full whenever I pass them.

It all seemed ridiculously poorly thought out.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 12:08 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great idea. The pricing seems a little high to me too, but better than nuttin.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on September 23, 2010


I live in downtown Minneapolis and see people riding those crazy green bikes all the time. The mayor and David Byrne biked around a few months ago, which somehow seems very Minnesotan.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mandatory helmet laws. In order to use the bike share you have to provide your own helmet, and anyone who's going to do that is probably going to provide their own bike too. No-one uses it and the bike racks are always full whenever I pass them.

I thought about that too. I would just use the bike without a helmet, but helmets are not mandatory here.

Are they in DC? I'd doubt it. (Of course, everyone in the pictures is wearing one.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2010


Pricing is weird, and I'm a bit sad this isn't some socialist free bike program. But 30 minutes free is a great start, and it's nice to have some pricing to get support for the system (vs relying on donations).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2010


I like the shape of the bikes--I wonder who manufactures them. I wouldn't mind one for my gettin' shit down about town bike.
posted by everichon at 12:11 PM on September 23, 2010


Speaking of NIMBY, apparently some folks in my neighborhood are against putting a bikeshare station on this pedestrian island for some stupid reason. I just wrote my neighborhood commissioner to see if he knows anything about it.

Re: helmets, they are not legally required for adults in DC.
posted by exogenous at 12:12 PM on September 23, 2010


Blend this with the creative (albeit currently unworkable) idea of the solar road thing a few posts down.

Provide a huge fleet of bikes totally for free. Equip each bike with a storage battery that trickle charges as the wheels turn. When the bike is parked at a station it discharges back into the grid. Sort of a multiplier on the energy benefit.
posted by Babblesort at 12:19 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's with the huge gap in Northeast? H Street hipsters* want bikes too!

*Not a hipster. Seriously though, I was about to be all "why does everything awesome happen as soon as I leave???" but there's nothing on the map within 1.5 miles or so of where I used to live, so I probably wouldn't have used it much anyway.
posted by naoko at 12:21 PM on September 23, 2010


This is an extension of the BIXI system that was first pioneered in Montreal last year.

Not quite. BIXI was inspired by the Parisian Velib system, which debuted two years prior to Bixi. Velib itself was based on a variety of public bike sharing systems in Europe dating back to the 70s.

I do love BIXI though!
posted by modernnomad at 12:26 PM on September 23, 2010


I love this idea. But, I do wish the price was significantly lower. Zipcar is only $8-9 an hour - is it higher in DC? Seems like a bike would have a lot less upkeep, no parking space, etc.
posted by Craig at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2010


1,100 bikes and 114 stations? Starting small, i guess, which may be a mistake.Velib' in Paris started with 10,000 bikes and 750 stations, and is now 20,000 bicycles and 1,639 stations, and there are still often not enough to go around. The pricing is also far less expensive: about 30€ per year, and the first half-hour is free (and you absolutely *can* do 12 or more less-than-half-an-hour free trips on any given day..)
posted by vivelame at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2010


Not quite. BIXI was inspired by the Parisian Velib system, which debuted two years prior to Bixi. Velib itself was based on a variety of public bike sharing systems in Europe dating back to the 70s.

I do love BIXI though!


True, I guess I was just trying to point out that they really jump started this latest trend of cities, especially with the tank inspired bikes, the 30 minutes free, and the technology driven infrastructure. I know that Montreal has been hosting a number of delegations from other cities around the world to show off the system, and that the systems in London, DC, and elsewhere are almost carbon copies of the Montreal system.

I did not mean to remove any proper respect from prior systems.
posted by jpwhite at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2010


The pricing works on a similarly exponential scale in the Paris Vélib system. The idea is to keep all the bikes in high rotation. When you dock a bike there's a slight delay of something like a minute or two before you can undock another, which I suppose is intended to allow someone else to use the bike if there's a high demand at that station. As long as you use the system as intended, for making short point-to-point trips, you can use it all day effectively for free. It sounds like the DC system is following this model.
posted by chmmr at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2010


Hey vivelame, apparently the first half-hour is free in the DC program too; pretty cool.

So it looks to me that this is a program largely aimed at people who take public transit in to town, right?
posted by Mister_A at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2010


naoko, there are a couple of H St. NE stations planned. If that and the one at Lincoln Park come through, that'd make H St. barhopping a lot more fun--ever try to catch a cab home from there?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:36 PM on September 23, 2010


I've used the Denver B-Cycle cycles occasionally (since I have my own bike, I don't use it all that often), and they have a very similar pricing structure -- free for 30 minutes, and then up from there. It's really easy to have a bike (or an assortment of different bikes) out for an entire day without running up huge charges -- just return the bike to a B-Cycle station whenever you see one, and then immediately check it out, again. This starts the clock back to 0. I'm sure this is just as possible with the D.C. and other bike-share programs. Not only am I taking my city on the path to commie U.N. socialism with my bike sharing, I'm trying to do it on the cheap!
posted by heurtebise at 12:38 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


True, I guess I was just trying to point out that they really jump started this latest trend of cities, especially with the tank inspired bikes, the 30 minutes free, and the technology driven infrastructure. I know that Montreal has been hosting a number of delegations from other cities around the world to show off the system, and that the systems in London, DC, and elsewhere are almost carbon copies of the Montreal system.

Yeah that was my point, but in reverse -- BIXI is a carbon copy of Velib.

Relatedly, in Toronto we're still waiting to see if BIXI will be succesfull in their expansion here.. they need a 1000 memberships by the end of November in order to get some cash from the city, but so far they're only at 600... fingers-crossed!
posted by modernnomad at 12:39 PM on September 23, 2010


This was implemented in Melbourne, Australia, last year and has been a colossal failure. Why? Mandatory helmet laws. In order to use the bike share you have to provide your own helmet, and anyone who's going to do that is probably going to provide their own bike too. No-one uses it and the bike racks are always full whenever I pass them.

No helmet law for adults here in Minneapolis, but at least one local bike store does offer a discount on helmets if you show your Nice Ride ticket, and they set up booths at local farmer's markets to promote both Nice Ride and sell helmets. It's pretty neat.

I've been really gratified to see how well the program has taken off here.
posted by padraigin at 12:39 PM on September 23, 2010


Paging peeedro....
It's a sleeedgehammer.

You ever take it off any sweet jumps?
posted by sicjoy at 12:40 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You need to keep in mind that Paris is much larger than DC, and there is more of a general cycling culture there. It would be great if DC started out with a larger infrastructure, but from my perspective (living in Petworth, and already the owner of too many bikes), there are stations located where I am and where I want to be, so I gave them my money.

Funny story, my brothers and I were on vacation in Montreal about a month and a half ago and rented bixi's, and were enthralled by them especially in comparison to the older smartbike program nobody ever used, then a few weeks later this is announced, and now there is a station down the block from my house!
posted by BobbyDigital at 12:44 PM on September 23, 2010


naoko, there are a couple of H St. NE stations planned. If that and the one at Lincoln Park come through, that'd make H St. barhopping a lot more fun--ever try to catch a cab home from there?

Never had to; it was walking distance from home for me! But honestly, yeah, having had to wait with friends while they tried to get a cab at the end of the night, I do know what you mean. Good to see that my old neighborhood isn't being totally forgotten.
posted by naoko at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2010


You ever take it off any sweet jumps?
posted by ghharr at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2010




Having just returned from London, and the Barclay's Bike system works rather well for it's intended purpose (low-cost bike rentals for short periods of time). Nice little bike jaunt from from Pimlico up to Trafalgar Square for example... 15 minutes, and not having to worry about parking my bike or getting it stolen. They actually try pretty hard to redistribute bikes both during the day and overnight to keep good availabilty of both bikes and open stalls for checking in bikes.

As several have pointed out, the fees are steep, but the idea is to allow you to have a nice alternative to public transportation for short time periods and short distances.

Valencia, Spain also had pretty much the same system, although I didn't try it out, since (a) it was harder to get the enabling fob for the system, (b) I was a little wary of the crazy Spanish drivers and narrow streets, and (c) unlike the London system, they don't seem to do a good job of redistributing the bikes: all of the bike stations by the beach were filled, and many of the downtown stations had no bikes.

I've also got all sorts of info on BIXI, but never seem to be in Montreal except when there is snow on the ground.
posted by kaszeta at 12:58 PM on September 23, 2010


Not quite. BIXI was inspired by the Parisian Velib system, which debuted two years prior to Bixi. Velib itself was based on a variety of public bike sharing systems in Europe dating back to the 70s.

And the Paris Velib system was inspired by the system in Lyon, the TRUE originator of the metro bike rental trend, according to my brother who studied abroad there last year.
posted by subdee at 1:00 PM on September 23, 2010


1,100 bikes and 114 stations? Starting small, i guess, which may be a mistake.

Mexico City's ECOBICI program started at about this size at the beginning of the year, and I believe it's doing well and growing. I was down there in May and quite impressed with the coverage in Roma and Condesa.
posted by lunalaguna at 1:00 PM on September 23, 2010


Flat cities only need apply.

Sorry San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I signed up for the Clear Channel Smartbike system when I first moved to DC because I knew that I was going to be picky about finding a good, used bike. I was foiled at many turns. First, I thought I could use the bikes to go apartment searching, but I didn't have a local address to sign up. It wasn't going to work for commuting because the nearest station to my (very central) home was a mile away on U Street. One day I decided to walk to the station and do a recreational ride.. I had to try three different stations to find one that worked (U Street -> Dupont -> Foggy Bottom) The bikes were way too uncomfortable for a fun day ride. Of course, it would still have a killer app if I could rent a bike after the Metro stops running... Nope, ends at 10 pm. Might be good for a jaunt on the Mt Vernon trail? Nope, can't leave the District.

I was excited to find a Capital Bikeshare station going up in my neighborhood... And then another. And then I saw the one two blocks from me. Awesome! CB is 24 hours. Double awesome -- that will save me some taxi fees for sure.

Hopefully the publicity here and for other bike initiatives will help raise awareness with drivers because no one respects bike lanes here. (seriously, UPS and FedEx can bite me) In general, aggressive drivers and aggressive bicyclists feed each other, so there's a decent amount of dumb bikers, too, doing those things that feel safer but are not. (I may have been spoiled by growing up in Portland, though.) DC's bike culture is pretty lame -- even Richmond has cool stuff like tall bike jousting but DC is all WABA fundraisers and gearhead recreational riders or messenger fixie wannabes. Or maybe I'm not in the loop with the cool kids yet, but I've been actively looking. The NPS would probably kill any attempts to replicate Midnight Mystery Rides anyway, as they have lamed up attempts to replicate the World Naked Bike Ride. Harrrumph.
posted by Skwirl at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2010


I have also heard that the BIXI system in Montreal would work better if Mont Royal was not in the center of the city. Apparently all the bikes end up at the bottom of the hill at the end of the day, and have to be trucked back up the Plateau.
posted by subdee at 1:03 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't think of this as a bike rental scheme. Think of it as another layer of the transit system.

This is for people who:

-need to get somewhere fast but the trip isn't far enough to be worth a transit fair.
-can't get to where they need to go on transit, so the bike helps them complete the trip

It's for short trips from A to B, not for recreation. The price scheme actively discourages recreational trips because they want to make sure there are always bikes available. Convenience is the main goal.

BIXI is supposed to get up and running here in Toronto next summer. I used it Montreal this year and it was a joy. Honestly, maybe one of the best ideas I've ever come across.
posted by dry white toast at 1:05 PM on September 23, 2010


I live in downtown Minneapolis and see people riding those crazy green bikes all the time. The mayor and David Byrne biked around a few months ago, which somehow seems very Minnesotan.

I just did the 'nice ride 65' challenge, where you check a bike in and out at every single station in Minneapolis within 24 hours. Those bikes are not designed to be ridden for 30+ miles according to my aching bottom.

Also, wearing my helmet and riding those upright bright-green cruisers through North and midtown made me feel like the whitest person on the planet.
posted by Think_Long at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2010


You need to keep in mind that Paris is much larger than DC
uh?
Wikipedia (which could be wrong, ok, but that's fairly factual..) says:
Paris: 41 sq mi (intramuros only, which includes Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes.. And that's what counts: Velib' is *only* for Paris intramuros, which is stupid, but the law requires it)
Washington, DC: 61.4 sq mi of land, 20% of which is parkland.

You Americans tend to, you know, sprawl... We don't have that kind of luxury back there in Old Europe.
posted by vivelame at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2010


I have also heard that the BIXI system in Montreal would work better if Mont Royal was not in the center of the city. Apparently all the bikes end up at the bottom of the hill at the end of the day, and have to be trucked back up the Plateau.
Well, same problem here in Paris (Montmartre et al), which was taken care of by rewarding people: leaving your bike on a hundred of the top-most stations grants you a 15 minutes bonus of free ride, ie, if your ride was 40 minutes and you left your bike at one of the bonus stations, you won't be billed for that extra time.
posted by vivelame at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2010


I used to live in DC and rode my bike in the city. When I would travel to other cities I often wished I had a bike handy, as it is a great way to get around and you see the city in a different way. While I don't need this service for DC (I still live within hours of it) I could see using a service like this when going to other cities. Bravo.
posted by dgran at 1:33 PM on September 23, 2010


bikes cost 100$ on craigslist why would i spend 50$ going to the bars on a rented one? this is weird.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2010


Having just returned from London, and the Barclay's Bike system works rather well for it's intended purpose (low-cost bike rentals for short periods of time). Nice little bike jaunt from from Pimlico up to Trafalgar Square for example... 15 minutes, and not having to worry about parking my bike or getting it stolen.

How did you manage to use the London system during a short visit? Right now, it is only open to a few members who applied for keys a long time ago...as far as I know.
posted by vacapinta at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2010


uh?
Wikipedia (which could be wrong, ok, but that's fairly factual..) says:
Paris: 41 sq mi (intramuros only, which includes Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes.. And that's what counts: Velib' is *only* for Paris intramuros, which is stupid, but the law requires it)
Washington, DC: 61.4 sq mi of land, 20% of which is parkland.

You Americans tend to, you know, sprawl... We don't have that kind of luxury back there in Old Europe.


I meant larger as in population which at 2,193,031 according to Wikipedia seems to indicate that Paris quite a bit larger than sprawly DC with it's 599,657 residents. Also a vast majority of the bike stations are located in one quadrant of the city, and that happens to be the quadrant the contains much of the parkland, but at this point I am just being a dick about semantics.

As others have mentioned the point of this system is for people who want to make short trips, and not have to worry about the bike before and afterward, if I in Petworth want to get over to the gym in Columbia Heights, this is ideal because I can bike over, drop the bike off, and spend my time in the gym without having to think about what is happening to my precious and expensive bike locked up outside all by itself. If I end up going to a bar downtown and meeting someone and we decide to head on from there, I do not need to worry about how my bike is going to come along, or whats going to happen to it overnight outside. Its an expansion of public transit, and I am super excited about it, and its continued expansion (hopefully).
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:56 PM on September 23, 2010


bikes cost 100$ on craigslist why would i spend 50$ going to the bars on a rented one?
I'm willing to pay for the privilege of not having to keep up with the thing, while I'm out, but at home, too. I don't have room to store a bike at home, and bike theft in these parts is rampant. Also, not my problem if it rains and I decide to take a cab home instead of riding, or the bike needs a new tube or oil or sprocket or whatever it is that bikes need.

I'm debating if I should sign up now and save $25, or wait until my neighborhood's coverage gets better.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:01 PM on September 23, 2010


After that time, the bike will be considered stolen and a fee of $1,000 will be charged to your credit card.

So, I guess you don't want to leave one of these locked up outside of... anywhere, really, except the "stations".
posted by smackfu at 2:01 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was implemented in Melbourne, Australia, last year and has been a colossal failure. Why? Mandatory helmet laws.

I can picture how this came about. Because helmets lose their protectiveness once they've been in an accident (the inner foam absorbs impact but doesn't recover), council's legal department advised too great a liability risk if somebody was injured because of a damaged helmet.

It would be too expensive to regularly check helmets over a distributed network, so that was ruled out. But because they were so keen about the principle of the project, the pressed ahead regardless - vainly imagining that locals would buy helmets but not their own bikes, or that tourists would be able to find sports stores & be willing to throw away an extra $30+ each for the privilege of maybe an hour or two of cycling.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:08 PM on September 23, 2010


What happens if the bike gets a flat? Can you inspect the bike before you ride off on it or you just get what you get and you don't get upset? I just know some jerk is going to stick a bike with a flat in there and I'll get stuck with it. THIS SUCKS!
posted by Mister_A at 2:30 PM on September 23, 2010


Paris quite a bit larger than sprawly DC with it's 599,657 residents.

The DMV has about 8 million people in it, most of whom live in VA and MD. 1 million people live in Alexandria alone. Most of these folks hang out or work downtown.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:35 PM on September 23, 2010


What happens if the bike gets a flat? Can you inspect the bike before you ride off on it or you just get what you get and you don't get upset? I just know some jerk is going to stick a bike with a flat in there and I'll get stuck with it. THIS SUCKS!

You return it to the station, and take another. Memberships work on a daily/monthly/yearly basis, and all trips under 30 minutes (which the creators of the system envision should be 95% of all trips) are free. CaBi was designed as an extension of the existing transit system -- not a substitute.

When you return it to the station, you can flag the bike as being broken on the kiosk, and it will be locked in place until a maintenance crew swings by to pick it up.

DC have already applied for stimulus funds to double the size of the station, which should considerably help to achieve the density to make this system successful. I hope that it's maintained and gradually expanded as time goes on.

It *IS* interesting to note that the National Mall, and any other NPS-managed properties will not be getting CaBi stations, because the NPS gave an exclusive contract to another company to build their own (teeny tiny) system in the middle of nowhere. (It's really weird just how huge the disconnect is between the Federal Government and the DC government -- locally-owned food vendors are prohibited from the mall area for the same reason)

I also find it a bit difficult to bitch about the price, given that a year's membership costs slightly less than a tank of gas and a pizza.
posted by schmod at 3:06 PM on September 23, 2010


Neither of which you can carry on one of these bikes!
posted by crunchland at 3:20 PM on September 23, 2010


1,100 bikes and 114 stations? Starting small, i guess, which may be a mistake.

I agree. Brussels' Villo scheme made that very mistake, and has been labouring ever since. Of course, it was compounded by the fact that all the stations were initially concentrated on a very small area in the city center, due to arcane local politics (Brussels, not a very large city, is divided in 19 very independent boroughs), and that it is a particularly hilly city, with horrible paving, notoriously humid weather, and aggressive drivers.

I have also heard that the BIXI system in Montreal would work better if Mont Royal was not in the center of the city. Apparently all the bikes end up at the bottom of the hill at the end of the day, and have to be trucked back up the Plateau.

Well, same problem here in Paris (Montmartre et al), which was taken care of by rewarding people.


Taken care of? Uhm, I can tell you, I love Velib', but finding a free spot in the stations near the Seine (especially in the 5th and 6th arrondissements in the evening) is a huge pain in the backside...
posted by Skeptic at 3:32 PM on September 23, 2010


PSA: Particularly with the number of bikers who get hit by cars in DC, you should never ever ever ever ever ever ride a bike here without a helmet, not even for five minutes.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:40 PM on September 23, 2010


MrMoonPie says: Paging peeedro....

Hi, I work part-time for Capital Bikeshare. I am not an employee, just a contractor. I'm not speaking for anyone but myself. Don't quote me, don't sidebar me, but if you have a a legitimate concern, memail me and I will put you in touch with someone in the know.

exogenous says: TheWashCycle suggests that without SmartBike (an earlier and smaller biking sharing program) "there might not be a Capital Bikeshare - not now at least." I hope it takes off.

I casually know the TheWashCycle guy, he's well connected and you can take what he says as the truth. What he doesn't say is that all the people that did the heavy lifting on SmartBikes are working at Capital Bikeshare. The DC cycling and messenger community is pretty tight and heavily invested in this. They see this as a potential change to the streetscape and nature of DC streets for the better, an opportunity that doesn't come along very often. The cycling community is all in for this.

googly writes: Wahoo! Also note that, while it is the largest bikeshare program in the US, its still only half the size of the originators of the program, Montreal's Bixi, with twice as many bikes and stations.

Yup, it's Bixi and Alta Bicycle Share that are bootstrapping Capital Bicycleshare. Their experience is what makes all this happen.

smackfu says: Yeah, really seems aimed at the very short trips, where you take less than 30 minutes to get from one station to another. Just hope there is space at the station you are going to.

Yep aimed at short trips, that's the way to make a vibrant neighborhood. And the idea is that with more stations equilibrium will be more easily reached between all the different use patterns. SmartBikes spent a lot of time and money trucking bikes back and forth between a few stations, the idea is that with a comprehensive set of rental stations there will be more shuffling by users are less restocking by staff.

crunchland writes: I keep wondering if the bikes -- which are pretty much ugly as hell -- will end up in the Potomac, the way many supposedly ended up in the canals of Amsterdam.

How many shopping carts are in the Tidal Basin? These bikes are just as heavy as a shopping cart and 100 times more useful and cool. Any bikes that are stolen and released into the wild will hoefully be used for transportation and not as an artificial reef.

jpwhite says: One other cool thing is that a six pack fits perfect inside the front basket... almost like the designers used that as the size requirement...

The bikes are made in Canada so there is sticker telling riders that the maximum load in the front basket is 10kg; 22.4lbs for the rest of us. I advise you to buy in bulk and bring home two twelve packs of cans which will easily fit in the basket sideways. If you are also hauling ice, please carry only one twelve pack in the front basket. The integrated bungee cord will help you balance your booty. The front basket mounts are actually quite fragile, they are riveted into the frame and are quite a pain to repair. Don't overload the front basket please. Not even for beer.

exogenous says: Speaking of NIMBY, apparently some folks in my neighborhood are against putting a bikeshare station on this pedestrian island for some stupid reason. I just wrote my neighborhood commissioner to see if he knows anything about it.

Please send me a memail about it. I'll move the issue up on my side as much as I can.

vivelame says: 1,100 bikes and 114 stations? Starting small, i guess, which may be a mistake.

From where I get my news there are persistent rumors that the Maryland is so close to joining the the capital bikeshare program, increasing the number of bikes and station by as much as 50% by adding it in the portion of Montgomery and PG Counties that are on the DC border.

MrMoonPie says: I'm debating if I should sign up now and save $25, or wait until my neighborhood's coverage gets better.

I'll ask around and see what the process is like to add new stations to see what the chances are of better coverage in your block. There is a lot of coordination that goes on between Capital Bikeshare and DDoT that is a mystery to me.

Mister_A says: What happens if the bike gets a flat? Can you inspect the bike before you ride off on it or you just get what you get and you don't get upset? I just know some jerk is going to stick a bike with a flat in there and I'll get stuck with it. THIS SUCKS!

There is a button at the station for "This bike needs attention." The bike is taken out of circulation and fixed shortly. The bikes are pretty sturdy but they are going to be beaten to hell (imagine the Columbia Heights station on the weekend). There are roving mechanics working to undo the damage and keep the bikes rolling.

I'll keep an eye on this thread and try to address any questions that come up. Feel free to memail me with specific questions; I'd be glad to put you in touch with people that have the answers.
posted by peeedro at 4:58 PM on September 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


yeahhhh.....
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:57 PM on September 23, 2010


I just saw one of these stations open up in downtown Des Moines. The city isn't particularly large, so I'm curious to go see how much it costs to use, and if there are more stations than just the one that I've seen.

At any rate, it seems like the current hip trend of urban areas, and a nice addition to a complete public transit system.
posted by erstwhile at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2010


I love the idea and hope it spreads. Must say though that if I rode a bike for even 30 minutes in DC in the summer I would be in dire need of a shower and would not be welcome anywhere people in dire need of showers are not welcome.
posted by jfuller at 6:39 PM on September 23, 2010


The DMV has about 8 million people in it, most of whom live in VA and MD

The Washington Metropolitan Area has 5,300,000 people. If you combine us with Baltimore than yeah, we've got around 8 million, but people in the Northeast Baltimore suburbs are hardly going to be using DC's bike sharing system, so that's not really a fair number to pull out. At any rate, Paris's metropolitan area has almost 12 million people, so any way you slice it, they're bigger.

1 million people live in Alexandria alone

What? Alexandria is tiny. They have 130,000 people.
posted by av123 at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2010


I wonder if the discrepancy is because there's a difference between Alexandria (proper) and the rest of the area also known as Alexandria. My mailing address has me as Alexandria, but technically, I live in a completely different county (Fairfax).
posted by crunchland at 7:25 PM on September 23, 2010


Good point. Although all of Fairfax County only has a million people (and the whole county is not known as Alexandria!), so I still think that number is high.
posted by av123 at 7:42 PM on September 23, 2010


Alexandria

godamn it i am unable to read. sorry, yeah, fairfax county is 1mill.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:05 PM on September 23, 2010


SOUNDS LIKE SOCIALISM

They never would have done this while Bush was president!!!
posted by delmoi at 3:38 AM on September 24, 2010


bikes cost 100$ on craigslist why would i spend 50$ going to the bars on a rented one? this is weird.

A decent lock probably cost $100 on top of that. Plus you have to store and maintain it.

But the real point of this scheme is that it plugs into the transit system so you us it as one transport method of many. In London, for example, people will get the train into a terminal from 50 miles out and then cycle five minutes to the office rather than waiting for a bus. They aren't going to be dragging their own bike all that way to do that.
posted by ninebelow at 4:45 AM on September 24, 2010


Does the requirement of a credit card discriminate against poor people?
posted by smackfu at 5:48 AM on September 24, 2010


smackfu,

It might, but we live in an age where you can get a reloadable Visa debit card for $7. They'll even send you a card with your name on it (at least NetSpend via HEB in Texas does).
posted by polyhedron at 10:46 PM on September 24, 2010


I'm still watching this post. I only check in every couple of days, but please send me a message if you want to know something more about Capital Bikeskare.
posted by peeedro at 8:59 PM on September 26, 2010


Here are a few links regarding the NIMBY'ed Lincoln Park site:

A nice post at Greater Greater Washington

Another local blog (The Hill is Home) on the issue

An online petition encouraging the DC Department of Transportation to reconsider a site near Lincoln Park
posted by exogenous at 1:29 PM on September 30, 2010


I'm just back from a community meeting on the proposed Lincoln Park site. It went pretty well for the pro-bike folks, I think, who were out in force (the crowd was reduced to standing in the back of the room). There has been a lot of coverage in the local blogosphere which i suspect motivated the turnout.

There was some unfounded "safety" concerns against having the bikes on either of islands on either of the east corners of Lincoln Park. I left early, but if i had to guess I'd say that DDOT will go ahead with the NE corner.
posted by exogenous at 6:11 PM on October 18, 2010


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