Bikeshare Still Booming

bikeshare
Image by Jonathan Pinkerton

Jonathan tweets us the scene at 8:41am. For those who use bikeshare to commute – what time do you have to get a bike before they are all gone?

52 Comment

  • justinbc

    When I lived in that area (I would use the 15th and Q station) they were still full around 7:15 when I left, but that time was more dictated by my office schedule than BikeShare’s availability. Now in Capitol Hill I can still get plenty of bikes even past 8:30.

    • Yeah, that screen snapshot pretty much describes this area every morning for Bikeshare…which is why I didn’t renew my membership. In their defense you see the exact same paucity of options for Car2Go in this particular area. This is probably true for other spots around the city as well, but I notice this one since I live here.

    • Around lincoln park and east capitol street, bikes are usually gone by 8:30/9 am. Bike share needs some more infill stations south-east of the park

  • I’m in mount vernon – I have to leave by 7:30 to get a bike immediately outside my condo but I can usually grab one on my way in.

  • Andie302

    I was really surprised there were still bikes at Shaw metro this morning at about 8:05am (because usually they’re gone by then) but I figured it was people riding there and parking to connect to metro. I got the next to last dock at 15th and L about 12 minutes later.

    • Shaw usually restocks in the AM (not sure which of the two you’re referring to – there’s docks at both entrances), but may not super consistent.
      .
      Luckily my ‘commute’ is not downtown – finding a dock is an adventure I’m sure.
      .
      The good news is usually this starts off big with nice weather then dwindles down some.

  • From Columbia Heights I find leaving by 7:30 is critical. Days I try to leave after 8 it’s hopeless.

  • Absolute latest you can pull out a bike in that area is 7.45. And that’s probably too late on a nice day like today.
    You got to get to work earlier, Jonathan!

  • 8:15 – 8:20 at the latest for the station on Eckington Pl NE by the Sirius XM building. I wish Capital Bikeshare would increase capacity at more of the stations they already have instead of adding new ones. The network seems to be stretched pretty thin as is.

  • This morning I picked up the last bike on 14th & Harvard at 8:15. Usually they restock around 8:30.

  • NE Capitol Hill is another high use area. Bikes are usually gone by 8am and racks full by 6pm. It’s hard not to get frustrated with Bikeshare when you pay for a membership and only get a bike maybe 3 or 4 out of the 10 weekly commutes that I would otherwise make. On the other hand I’m very sympathetic to the difficulty making the system work in areas where there is very high, single-direction, commuter use. Some areas would need 2 or 3 times the capacity to accommodate riders during the 3 hours of peak commuting. I would happily pay more for my membership if the extra revenue were dedicated to increasing capacity in high use areas.

    • Accountering

      To make it so there is no crush in peak commuting hours, I bet they would have to expand capacity beyond 2-3 times. Probably more like 10x. If everyone KNEW there was a bike available in Columbia Heights, the demand would skyrocket. The lack of availability (and that everyone knows about it) definitely suppresses demand.

  • I’m thinking of starting to commute by bike either from the dock at the Brookland metro or 7th/Hamlin. I’ll need to start looking at those docks to see what the best time to leave is. Also – anyone know where I can get a map that shows the entrances to the MBT?

  • The Mt. Pleasant station at Lamont Street Park is hit or miss after 7:15 am. I found myself having to get there around 7:00 am to get a bike. I’d check the app just before leaving my place with what appeared to be plenty of bikes but 3 or 4 were actually out of service.
    I probably would have renewed my membership if they had doubled the docks/bikes. I ended up buying my own bike instead.

  • northeazy

    As someone who bikes daily and owns his bike, what is the appeal of using a huge, heavy, clunky bike that apparently is not even guaranteed to be there when you need to go to work? Is it that if you want to work late or do a HH and uber home you don’t have to be bothered riding back? The $75/yr membership is also kind of steep since a more than decent used bike can be had for $200. Asking for a friend.

    • That kind of one way trip is exactly the appeal! I’m currently only using bikeshare, but that’s just because I haven’t bought my own bike yet. But I plan on keeping my membership after I get one (hopefully this weekend!)

    • The real draw is probably for non-commute usage, unless there is nowhere near your office to safely park your own bike. You can buy a bike pretty cheaply.

      • northeazy

        What do you mean by non-commute usage?

      • I do not work downtown, so I’m able to use bikeshare regularly with pretty good ease for work commuting (I also do not get into the office at 9-9:30 which helps). I only take it on “nice” days (above 60 and no significant chance of rain) and some days when I need a suit, I don’t. However, living in Shaw/Logan, I use bikeshare frequently to/from the grocery, ride down to Verizon Center (and have down to Nats Park), down to the mall/downtown on weekends, across to Dupont Circle for easy access to the red line, head to go out to eat in a nearby neighborhood, etc.
        .
        My work also pays for half of my annual membership – so I spend about $35/year. This EASILY pays for itself with the amount I save not taking the Metro, Uber and not driving my car.

    • I haven’t biked in years, so I’m not 100% sure I want to bike to work (or anywhere). I like the appeal of biking to work, but I want to make sure I’ll actually do it before investing in a bike. So bikeshare is a good option as a test run. Its also a good option if you live somewhere where you can’t store a bike or it would likely get stolen where you can store it.

    • dcgator

      Not having to worry about theft, easy to grab-and-go when you find yourself in a place where a bike ride makes the commute much faster, being able to bike to work when it’s sunny and cab home when it’s raining later…the list of scenarios could go on.

    • justinbc

      1) one-way usage, especially if weather turns bad, 2) $6/mo is negligible cost, 3) never have to worry about finding something to lock it to and / or have it stolen, 4) don’t have to store it in your own house (especially if you bike with a partner), 5) someone else covers maintenance, presumably, although many bikes could use this a lot more.

    • Andie302

      I have both bike share and my own bike. For me, there is no place safe to keep my bike at work. (Our building is old and doesn’t have a garage or a bike storage room.) So I can walk if I cannot get a bikeshare bike, but the logistics of trying to coordinate with a garage that I don’t park in several blocks away is not worth it.

    • skj84

      That’s exactly it. I like the flexibility. I bike to work on occasion, but usually never go straight home after work. With Bikeshare I don’t have to worry about biking back home, or leaving my bike overnight. I also love that I can grab a bike on a whim. I own a bike, but mostly use Bikeshare. Honestly, the bikes aren’t *that* heavy.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        I don’t use bikeshare, but who cares if the bikes are heavy anyway? If you are not in a race, the difference in weight is negligible. I can’t imagine the weight of CaBi bikes impacts most people in the slightest.

        • gotryit

          As a frequent bike commuter, it’s heavy enough that I don’t enjoy it. Part of the reason I commute by bike is the fun of it: I’m fast and free. I don’t have that on the CaBi bikes.

    • One way trips are the number one reason. Also not having to worry about locking up a bike and riding to/from metro stations. They also handle better than a road bike in the snow.
      .
      Beyond HH there are a lot of circumstances where I’m arriving somewhere alone, but leaving or walking around with friends and don’t want to have to lug my bike around. Or maybe I’ve left my bike at work because of rain/snow and need a one way trip.
      .
      For reference, I only take bikeshare when I find it inconvenient to take my other bike. Over the two years I’ve been a member, according to my account, I average 260 trips a year and 530 miles a year (based on experience the miles are actually an underestimate). If I would have take then bus or metro for even 25% of those trips I’m saving money (and getting exercise) by using bikeshare.

      • Also, just as a side note, I almost never bikeshare in to work because of the scarcity of bikes in the morning. Probably only 40-50 of those 260 trips are morning commutes and they are concentrated on days when there are more bikes (bad weather).

    • As someone who has had three bikes stolen in DC, with U-locks, been caught numerous times in the rain while biking and lives on the fourth floor of a walk up, the appeal is pretty obvious. None of these issues happen with CBS!

    • I use it for one-way trips. For instance, I have my own bike and commute 11 miles round trip 3 days a week. Yesterday, it was raining when I left work so I took the metro. The weather cleared, so I bikeshared home. I love it.

    • One way trips open up possibilities like only ever biking downhill, and never biking in the dark or bad weather!

    • “what is the appeal of using a huge, heavy, clunky bike”

      In the city, heavy and clunky is most often a good thing.

      About 800 people die every year in the US in bike crashes. As of a year ago, not a single one had died on a bike sharing system bike (I think it changed last July in Chicago with the very first fatality). That’s after tens of millions of trips, most of them without a helmet, and practically all of them in heavily trafficked urban areas.

      They’re heavy, they’re slow, they’re very visible (red, have lights, you stand tall), all that is a good thing if you care to stay alive when you ride.

      http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/not-single-american-has-died-using-bike-share-why-not.html

    • What others have said. One-way trips, etc. I don’t commute on them regularly, but use for midday trips and errands near work. Good for avoiding certain metro transfers. Also use in certain places where I can park free/cheaper, then ride to my final destination.

    • I had CaBi, then bought my own bike and INSTANTLY regretted it. A bike in this town is such a money pit. I had to replace my tires 3+ times because the potholes are brutal. Plus you can hardly get an annual bike tune-up for the annual CaBi membership. Needless to say, I’m back on CaBi and my bike sits in storage.

    • I have my own bike and commute on that, but keep bikeshare as a supplement for exactly those situations you meantion when I want a one way ride and uber/metro home. Also nice for non-commuting when I don’t want to lock my bike at a bar/restaurant and deal with it afterwards.

    • I bike daily on my own bike, but Bikeshare is still worth it for me. There are enough times that I only want to bike one way that it pays for itself. It doesn’t take that many Ubers to add up to $75, just once a month is enough. Here are some specific examples: if it is pouring for your morning commute or way to something, but dry when you leave; hot summer days when you don’t want to arrive someplace hot & sweaty, but don’t care on the way back (also cooler at night); if you’re going out and you don’t want to worry about your bike or be obligated to come back to where you parked (I’ve even done the bikeshare of shame to my bike).

  • At 17th and U, they are usually all gone by 7:15 or 7:30–and often don’t get restocked at that station until 12:30 or even 2. It’s made using bike share on weekdays basically impossible for me. We have repeatedly asked for more bikes within those few blocks, but are generally met with deaf ears other than “use the crowdsourcing map.” At some point you’d think they would look at their own usage patterns.

  • I would agree around 8 am is the cutoff for bikes (I pick up at 7th&T and drop off at 15th&P) but I find the commute home (reverse those stations) is so much more enjoyable and less stressful. I walk to work most mornings, which gives me time to listen to music, podcasts, etc. and bike home when I’m in more of a rush. There are always bikes available in the evening hours at 15th&P!

  • Conversely, at 9:30 pm on H street all reasonably close docks are full.

  • Around 11th and H St they are generally gone from the four or five closest stations to me by 8:30. I would use them more often if that weren’t the case, but it’s not a huge deal for me since I can walk. Didn’t realize it was just as bad lots of other places, too – I thought H St was unique bc of our lack of metro/lack of nearby office buildings that might result in reverse commuters.

    Bikeshare is still valuable to me without having it as a reliable commuting option – it sounds they would have to have a LOT more bikes and racks to make it a commuting tool for all members, and I’m not sure it would even be possible.

  • I work a later shift and live in this area; I love BikeShare, but must say, late morning, I cannot find a bike about, oh, 50% of the time at any of the several-of-these docking stations I pass. Perhaps there could be some redistribution midday, to improve a system I generally like? Hugs and kisses.

  • I think the consensus here is that everybody loves what CBS has done to help us move around this city…but there are serious deficits in restocking, especially in the A.M. I really wish CBS would address this issue. Every year at renewal time I do find myself weighing all the pros against this one major, major con.

    • To be clear, as someone who has used it for several years now…..they have made vast improvements. Part of the problem is that for a lengthy period of time, the developer of their bikes/docks went out of business, leaving them with no expansion or replacement bikes. They’re now back on track. They’ve added corralling on weekdays and restock stations in the mornings more frequently and reliably (a couple years ago, if it rained in the evening/nighttime, they didn’t get restocked).
      .
      So yes, they do have improvements to make. But any “sharing” service is never going to be a perfect system.

  • My commute is reverse to the “normal” commute, so when I dock the bike in Columbia Heights, the docks are normally empty and most times someone instantly takes my bike. I think Capital Bikeshare must love me since I help even out the bikes! (well, at least by 1 bike!)

  • I’m just east of Logan Circle and all of the stations between home and my office are empty by 7:45-8:00 a.m. Anecdotally, I don’t think they restock any of the stations south of U St. all day long–they just wait for the evening commuters to fill them up again.

  • It’s like this over on H street NE, too. Making bikeshare almost unusable.

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