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Capital Bike Share (CaBi) a Victim of Its own Success?

by Prince Of Petworth May 10, 2011 at 10:30 am 231 Comments


10th and U St, NW

When CaBi was first released I got a number of emails praising the system. Over the past few months I’ve received a number of emails expressing frustration. Personally I’ve also been frustrated with the system. Sometimes I feel like the people who run CaBi at DDOT are a little bit too self congratulatory. The idea of the system is awesome. The system today sucks. Far too many people are unable to get bikes when they want them. Yet other stations seem hardly touched. I even had one reader write that they were considering getting a bike a half hour early – taking it to their apartment so they’d the have one for their commute. That is ridiculous. Another reader writes, “I just tallied up the 8 stations that service this area (A/M, ColHts, Mt. Plst, etc). Out of 118 possible docks, there are currently 17 bikes available. And who knows how many of those 17 are operable.” The system continues to have extraordinary potential but the powers that be need to understand that many many users currently feel fracked by the system. And that needs to change.

If you’d like to express your frustration there is a public meeting on Wednesday, May 25. From DDOT:

Starting this summer, DDOT is planning to expand the current system with 25 new stations and 250 new bikes. The expansion is set to be completed by Fall 2011.

At the meeting, DDOT officials will provide an update on the expansion plan, explain the process for evaluating new stations, share the feedback that has been received from the community about the potential locations for new stations, and solicit additional feedback from the participants.

A listing of the proposed station locations and a printable map is available online at ddot.dc.gov/capitalbikeshare. Comments may be submitted via email to ddot.bikeshare@dc.gov.

Capital Bikeshare is a bikesharing program developed through a partnership between DDOT and Arlington County and operated by Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. Capital Bikeshare offers four different membership options: Annual ($75), Monthly ($25), 5-Day ($15) and 24-hour ($5) for access to a fleet of 1,100 bicycles located at over 110 stations across the District and Arlington. Additional information about Capital Bikeshare is available at www.CapitalBikeshare.com.

What: Public Meeting for the Expansion of Capitol Bikeshare

When: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
6 – 8 pm

Where: 441 4th Street, NW, Room 1107, Washington, DC


Building Museum at 5th and F St, NW

  • Anonymous

    Could not agree more—awesome idea, piss poor execution.

    • Anonymous

      I think they just need to build in an incentive system for bringing bikes to stations with shortages. Similar systems in other cities do this. Any place that has hills will have all the bikes continually migrating to the downhill stations because there is a small disincentive to ride uphill. If you change the incentives you change the behavior.

    • Ace in DC

      There are so many myopic, whiny, me-me-me, twits on here complaining about relatively small inconveniences of a great system. Seriously, the system is great. I have used the bikes several times over the last few weeks and had 0 problems picking up from 14/U going down town and back. When I got to a full station near GWU, I waited about 1.5 minutes while trying to look up one of the multiple alternative stations nearby on my phone, then someone came and checked out a bike and I was able to take her spot. Perfection. Seriously – this system is great. We need to support more stations in more locations and it will only get better. Stop your whining. The world does not revolve around YOUR personal convenience and schedule.

      • anon

        It sounds like the only reason you like the system is because you haven’t had to wait. Sounds like you think the world revolves around you.

        • Ace in DC

          No – it is because I am not self-centered and can appreciate that one person’s station full of unavailable docks (pessimistic view) is another person’s station full of bikes to go on a ride with (optimistic view). If the world revolved around me, I would want to always be picking up at full stations and dropping off at empty stations. But since the world does not revolve around me – I appreciate the great system that sometimes will make me pickup and drop-off not exactly according to my plan, but to the plan of the entire social network making up the CaBi system. A little existential, I know, but I like the system and don’t expect it to conform to my personal schedule. If I wanted that – I would buy my own bike and not share with anyone.

          • Tres

            You can’t whip out the soapbox for a self serving speech about how you’re so much better than everyone else here. Save the self congratulation and name calling.

            Not every problem can be solved by adopting an optimistic view of the situation. Sometimes, constructive criticism is warranted. Understand that as the system continues to grow in popularity, more and more problems will arise — and that while we may realize this, the heads at CaBi may or may not to the appropriate degree.

            I used a bike last evening, and had to go 3 stations past the one I wanted because there were no docks. Going that far out of my way defeated the point of renting a one way bike to -save time-.

          • Ace in DC

            Tres – ok – I can agree with you to a point. I just think in this administration – one that is quite obviously against “bike lanes and dog parks” and is seeking to trim millions off the budget – if you complain too loudly, then it won’t be taken as constructive criticism and will be instead taken as a call to eliminate a failed waste of tax payer dollars. I believe the system is great, not perfect, but great. We as a community need to look at it for its successes, not at its failures. So when you go to the meeting in May – make sure you talk about how awesome the system is, and how much better it can be – not just about how much it sucks to not have any stations nearby with docks available.

      • peter

        Yeah it’s called a bike share for a reason if you don’t want to share than buy your own bike.

  • EckingtonChick

    I did notice that they recently reduced the number of bike stands at the Brookland metro in preparation for the slow summer days when Catholic U students are gone (they probably accounted for the majority of the rentals at that location). I assume they reallocated those bikes and their stands to more popular locations.

    • Nikki

      They seem to have put a small station on 12th, by the CVS. Wonder why?

      • Brookland has 3 Capital Bikeshare stations. The stations on 12th Street and the CUA exit of the Metro were opened first, and the third one on Monroe Street across from Luke C Moore Academy was opened about month or so later.

        Haven’t been past the CUA in a while, so not sure if/why the number of bikes are less. Less for the summer seams reasonable

  • Eckingtonite

    I do like the idea and hope that they can fix it so the distribution meets the demand. It is a fantastic idea, in the abstract if not in execution (yet).

    However, I would be remiss if I failed to point out, in my best self-congratulatory tone (adopted from the holiest of riders of bikes), that my car is always available when I need it.

    • Anonymous

      And parking is abundant and free, I’m sure.

      • Eckingtonite

        I just park in bike lanes with my “DC Clergy” and “Funeral” signs.

        • Dr Pangloss

          OMFG! I think I keyed your car yesterday!

          Small world!

          • Rick

            And Eckingtonite knocked you off your bike for keying his/her car. Now you’re even!

  • Bdale Res

    Sounds like they are quite the success, but need to perform quite a massive gap analysis.

  • hungeegirl

    i tweet them EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY DAY (@MuddyMaeSuggins) about their lack of bikes consistently in the U st area. I even changed my work schedule (i used to start at 9, now i start at 815) so i would be more likely to get a bike, and i still dont get one. i am consistently late to work because the bikeshare is so unreliable. if i’m going to leave even earlier than i should, i might as well take the bus.

    i tell them every day what time the bikes are empty to suggest they make a schedule to refill it at the same time, but it doesn’t happen.

    i dont expect them to cater solely to my schedule obviously, but if the bikestand is ALWAYS empty at 8am, maybe they should start refilling it every day at 8am. however, the idea with bikeshare is that the bike docks should never be totally empty or totally full.

    last night, all docks in the u street/admo/col heights area were totally full, so when i was riding home from chinatown (where almost all docks were empty), i had to dock my bike almost halfway home because i saw on my phone there were no docks.

    BUT HEY!! WE DONT HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE USING OUR SYSTEM!! LET’S USE LIVING SOCIAL TO MAKE IT EVEN WORSE. (i’m still waiting for the influx of riders from the promotion to join – i dont think it’s totally hit yet)

    • Max

      why dont you just buy a bike?

    • GDopplerXT

      “i am consistently late to work because the bikeshare is so unreliable.”

      Why are you relying on a form of transportation that consistently makes you late for work? Sounds like you should indeed take the bus.

      I understand your frustration but it sounds like CaBi is not a good option for your commute to work. As much as I’m sure they would like to, they can’t be a perfect fit for everyone’s needs.

    • Dr Pangloss

      if i’m going to leave even earlier than i should, i might as well take the bus.

      Why don’t you take the bus, then?

      As I said downthread, the point of bikeshare is not that *you* are guaranteed a bike for your commute; the point is that n number of folks have bikes available to them.

      • hungeegirl

        the reason why i joined bikeshare is because it takes me half the time to get to work on bikeshare as it does on the bike.

        and, for all you dumbasses who ask why dont you buy a bike (it’s been said several times on here) – i DO own a bike, as do many other cap bikeshare users. however, i dont live in a house, i live in a very small one bedroom that does not fit a bike. my bike is in bike storage, and it takes a good 15 minutes to get it out. also, i dont like having to be forced to take my bike home if i want to stay out for drinks or something. it’s nice having it as a one way option.

        i agree with the commenter below that says the comment “Why dont you buy a bike” is the same as someone who takes a taxi being asked why dont they buy a car.

        • hungeegirl

          i meant half the time it takes on the bus in my first sentence.

        • LisaT

          Actually, the buying a bike v. buying a car analogy is not a valid comparison. The associated costs and infrastructure necessities alone are just two reasons it doesn’t begin to make sense to compare them.

          Why are cyclists so self righteous and quick to get angry defending their commute choice? We are not “dumbasses” for asking people why they choose not to buy their own bike yet complain about the availability of their shared bikes.

          Geez. Can everybody just have a cupcake now?

          • Tres

            If you’re buying, hell yeah.

            Did you bring enough for everybody?

          • LisaT

            Well I would have, but I couldn’t fit them on the back of my fixie. :p

          • Anonymous

            i’m not sharing a cupcake!

          • LisaT

            You hate the environment!

        • Dr Pangloss

          the reason why i joined bikeshare is because it takes me half the time to get to work on bikeshare as it does on the bike.

          Sure, that makes sense. But it turns out that bikeshare’s not very good at that (i.e. getting a thousand people from CH to downtown over the course of 2-3 hours, and the reverse eight hours later), and it’s not clear that it will be any time in the near (or far, for that matter) future. So it may be time to re-evaluate.

          “Why didn’t you buy a bike?” is a dumb question; “Why don’t you buy a bike” seems pretty legitimate.

        • Tim

          I find it hard to believe you can fit a bicycle, which takes up about 5 sq ft, in your apartment or in your building. I’ve known many people who leave their bikes in their living room, bedroom, on the balcony, in the hall, hanging from the ceiling, and so on. If you want to go for drinks some night, leave your bike at work that night and use cabi the next morning or take the bus. This is something that other people do. Relying on cabi for your commute every day and not having a good backup is just silly.

  • Hipsters On Wheels

    Bikeshare is a stupid idea.

    A. There are too many cyclists in DC to begin with. Get off your two wheels and back into four.

    B. Paying to share a bike is probably as safe as sharing a needles. Isn’t the slogan for Cap Bike Share…”GOT CRABS?”

    C. Paying to share a bike makes no economic sense. Period. Like sharing a boat. By the time you use the service and pay the annual fee you could have already bought a used or new bike…or boat if you are rich like me.

    D. Cycling is stupid.

    • anonymous

      Do you look as ugly as you sound? Hopefully you don’t come into DC often.

      A. You would hate life if all bikers drove cars instead.
      B. Soooo clever.
      C. You can’t even come close to buying a bike for $75.
      D. Pot. Kettle. Black.

      • Anon

        There are plenty of used bikes for $75. Maybe not one that would get you street cred stashing it outside Big Bear, or one that would get all the hipster ladies swooning at the local farmers market, but you could definitely get a bike for $75.

        • That Ain’t Dog Pee

          But I don’t want my own bike. I’d have to worry about locking it up someplace where it is almost certain to get stolen. I want a bike that I can quickly use to take me the one mile distance from my apartment building to the metro.

          • LisaT

            You rent a bike to go one mile to a metro? Isn’t that walkable or bus-able?

          • Anonymous

            Out of curiosity, what happens if your Bikeshare bike gets stolen?

            I see people leaving them unlocked all the time, and even if people can’t sell them after they steal them, I’m sure there are plenty of urban youth who would think it would be hilarious to throw a bike in the river or something.

          • That Ain’t Dog Pee

            Yep, I take a bike to go a one whole mile. I do this because I’m usually running late for work and therefore getting to metro via bike vs. walking will shave a nice 10 or 15 minutes off of my commute and I don’t take the bus because I usually have a good 10 to 20 minute wait (on a good day) for a bus that will take me to a metro that is much further away from where I’m going. For example, the bus will take me up to Tenleytown metro whereas I can ride the bike to Cleveland Park and be two stops closer to my final destination. Believe me, it saves time.

      • rowsdower

        i am astonished beyond belief that anyone took this post seriously.

        • Nikki

          This PoP. Everything is taken very seriously here. Especially ourselves.

    • Devoe

      These are all cogent arguments against bikeshare, let me go one better – how is it possible that in this day and age we have bike lanes, but not a single dedicated SUV lane in the city?

      I propose bulldozing the medians of all boulevards (especially if they have trees) to make special lanes for cars that get under 10 mpg.

    • Manbearpig

      And bikes are bad for the environment! They are made in factories which belch carbon and other toxins! They’re shipped in huge trucks that use fossil fuels! We should ban bike manufacturing to help our carbon footprint.

    • Anon

      Always great to read the Virginia opinion.

      • Anon Jr.

        +1000

    • Dr Pangloss

      World’s saddest troll. Seriously.

  • NEWSFLASH: Owning a bike of your very own is *NOT* prohibitively expensive.

    • Tres

      That’s true, however, I think bike ridership in DC is beginning to snowball, and that in the next couple years you’re going to see large numbers of people on bike. Think of Bikeshare as the perfectly-designed gateway drug to bike ownership.

      As more and more people pedal, the Bikeshare system will have to adapt to a far greater number of patrons. The question is whether adaptation will happen fast enough to keep pace with growing ridership.

      All I’m saying is that we’re seeing the beginning of a long term cultural shift in DC toward biking as a primary means of transportation for more people.

      • Dr Pangloss

        The question is whether adaptation will happen fast enough to keep pace with growing ridership.

        I’m curious: what do you think will happen in the case where “adaptation doesn’t happen fast enough?” What will failure look like?

        Totally agree with you about the cultural shift, but as far as CaBi failing, if it’s difficult to catch a cab on a Saturday night, do we say, “The DC taxi system has failed”? Or “DC’s taxi system has failed me?”

        • Tres

          Failure is in the opportunity cost. Failing to grow capacity to meet latent demand means that more people use other, already congested means of transportation. Would it benefit metro to have fewer riders during peak hours? Or 14th Street to have fewer cars?

          We’ve found a low-cost means of effectively widening the many of our streets to accept a new lane of traffic that doesn’t require ripping up roads or bulldozing houses.

          Bikeshare introduces people to biking and grows bike ridership. Many users will eventually buy their own bike, but it also would be good to make it easier for commuters to use the system.

    • Anonymous

      That’s for sure. I picked up a refurbished 90’s road bike for $300 about 5 years ago, and it still has tons of life in it. Cost per year: $60 and going down every year.

  • Dustin

    I’m a new Bikeshare member and love it but there’s definetely room for improvement. More docks with more bikes are needed at many of the more residential neighborhoods such as Bloomingdale. Last night, I picked up a bike (easily) near Chinatown and the new Safeway and by the time I got to the docks at Florida ave and “R” NW (Bloomingdale), there were no docks available to park – This has happened twice now. In the morning, it’s just the opposite. If you go out at 8:45/9am to get a bike at Florida and “R”, there are none. Not many other close

  • mphs

    I think the limiting factor isn’t the number of bikes, it’s the number of rack slots. And, the problem is that the racks don’t use space very efficiently. If they had a better rack design, the system could accommodate more bikes.

    • Park Viewer

      DDOT is looking to expand the ratio of racks from 1.5 docks per bike to 2 docks per bike to alleviate some of the overstocking (although this will not help the empty rack problem). They’re also adding a third van and team to redistribute bikes.

      I still love my bikeshare membership, and I have recouped the cost of membership ($50 for me because I was an early adopter) within six months of joining by using bikeshare to replace short metro trips (typically one-way trips where I didn’t want to schlep my bike home). I DO NOT use it to commute; the current system design does not accommodate that well due to the high number of people commuting one direction only during regular office hours. If you commute to and from work by bike each day, then consider buying a bike; it will always be there when you need it. If you want to run errands or go to lunch farther from your office, get to a social event on the weekends without waiting 20 minutes for the metro, or cut across town to cut a transfer out of your trip, then take a bikeshare bike.

      You can buy a bike for $75, but you also have to pay to maintain it.

      • kt

        thanks – a well-reasoned post a good explanation of the benefits of bikeshare! you deserve a medal! (that wasn’t meant to be sarcastic even though it might have sounded that way.)

        • Jim

          Yeah this is probably the sanest post on the board. Although CaBi is useful for the type of irregular travel outlined above, it’s most useful as a compliment to bike ownership. Take your bike for commuting and other regular round-trips, and use CaBi for one-way, trips to bars, and as a fill-in when your regular bike is down.

      • Cliftonite93

        Wow! They only have two vans for redistribution. Definitely not going to cut it during rush hour although I fully agree that widespread commute usage isn’t sustainable.

      • Anonymous

        Bikeshare costs $75/year. Buying a bike for $75 is a one time cost. Yeah, you may spend a few extra bucks a year on maintenance, but unless you are leaving it outside 24/7 it’s going to last you a lot longer than a year.

        • Anonymous

          I’d be happy to know someone willing to sell me a well-functioning bike, with a rack, lights and bell for $75 or anywhere near that price. Check eBay or Craigslist. Pretty thin offerings. New bikes are much more expensive. I agree w/ earlier posts: CaBi not a total alternative to bike ownership, but let’s have facts on cost clear.

  • Anon

    I am not a user of the system, but I strongly support the fact that it exists.

    You are not entitled to use a bike whenever you want one. You are allowed to use one when one is available. Did you think you were getting your own personal bike??

    I understand how this can be frustrating, but this was meant to complement the existing transportation infrastructure, not replace it. We still have busses, metro, taxis, sidewalks, cars, personal bikes, and the occasional rickshaw.

    It isnt hard to figure out that this is going to happen. Everyone lives around the outer stations and everyone works at the inner ones.

    They will not be able to build a system where some stations are not under utilized while others either have unavailable bikes or docks at high usage times. Its like trying to build a highway that wont eventually be clogged at rush hour.

    • Great post

    • Elle

      +1

      If you are using this to commute daily, BUY YOUR OWN BIKE.

      • Elle

        However, I do think that there should be more stands on side streets in some of the more popular residential areas. Building lots of scattered, smaller racks might help the problem some.

        • 1216

          Disagree- they;re kinda an eyesore.

          • Tres

            You think bikeracks are an eyesore? What about all the other metallic vehicles on the street?

            I also agree that more, smaller scattered stations is one of the answers.

          • And sidewalk space in not infinite. Pedestrians needs take precedence over bike riders.

          • Tres

            Name a single Bikeshare station that is placed in the way of pedestrians.

      • Dave

        I have my own bike and have used it to get to work and around town for almost 3 years. My girlfriend and I recently moved into a building that doesn’t allow bikes inside because of the damage they cause in the very narrow hallways. I keep “my” bike in storage and use the bikeshare regularly for my 15 minute commute to work. But I have noticed the paucity of bikes around U Street in the mornings, which is frustrating. Hopefully more users will continue to support the network and the number of stations will continue to expand and/or adjust to meet demand. I would think that they need to continue building up their historical data so that they know how to best serve areas that have high usage rates. The fact that they are expanding, having public meetings, are open to media requests, etc. should tell us that they are trying in earnest to make this a great program.

        For me, if the bikeshare is empty in the morning, it’s REALLY not that hard to just jump on a bus or the metro. So what if I have to carry my helmet around. If luck holds, hopefully I’ll get a nice ride home. Everyone should calm down and provide DDOT with helpful input to continue making this a better system.

        As for all the anti-bike douches, enjoy your exorbitant car insurance and gas bills and accept that bikes are not going away any time soon.

        • Great post. Things will get better and I too thoroughly enjoy my nice rides to work, when I can.

    • LisaT

      Well said, esp regarding complementing the existing transportation infrastructure.

      I’m not intentionally ignorant, but I still don’t understand why a frequent cyclist wouldn’t just buy her/his own bike.

      • joker

        I see this bi-polar argument justification all the time for bikeshare. Proponents of the system have to pick a story and stick to it.

        DDOT, the bike blogs etc justify its massive subsidy by calling it a “Transportation System”, that it reduces traffic on the roads (just waiting for someone to explain the fuzzy math on that one, just because you aren’t in a car bus, doesn’t mean you aren’t taking space up on the street).

        And yet, the only time of the day when the transportation network is crammed with people…the one time of day where the utility of the system as justified makes sense, is the one time a day when there are no bikes available for people to use.

        CABI is nothing more than a steep taxpayer subsidy for a bunch of people who already owned bicycles anyway, and a useless “transportation” alternative.

        • kt

          compared to subsidies for the street network, supporting bikeshare is a pittance.

          • joker

            I see we have another person who failed to grasp remedial math.

            On a per trip basis, or percentage basis…on any basis CABI takes the cake in terms of subsidy.

            The current subsidy is $1K per bike, the rose colored rate recovery is a whopping 15%, less this year because they decided to give away full year memberships for less than half the normal price. Heck, even the Circulator manages to get a 30% rate recovery. Metrorail a more respectable 60%

            DC’s roads see millions of vehicle trips per day, and anywhere from 25-40% of them are paid for out the highway trust fund, paid for out of gas purchases, versus a few thousand (on nice weather day) of bike trips.

            Try again…

          • Tres

            “that it reduces traffic on the roads (just waiting for someone to explain the fuzzy math”

            Bikelanes. Cars and bikes can use the same road, roughly doubling potential capacity on those roads.

            It will take many more riders, however, before traffic congestion is affected in a tangible way.

          • Anon

            Hey Joker – still not getting your rest I see. Whats the rate of recovery on money spent on roads? I really suck at math, so I need someone as smart as you to tell me when roads start paying for themselves. Is it before or after the first $30,000 pothole repair?

        • quincycyclist

          “And yet, the only time of the day when the transportation network is crammed with people…the one time of day where the utility of the system as justified makes sense, is the one time a day when there are no bikes available for people to use.”

          Uhh, the reason there aren’t bikes available for some people is that OTHER people are using them. It’s not like they just disappear…

          Your argument is analogous to “we have all these roads, but at the ONE time of day when people need to use them to go places, they’re all clogged with traffic! What gives?”

        • Dr Pangloss

          that it reduces traffic on the roads (just waiting for someone to explain the fuzzy math on that one, just because you aren’t in a car bus, doesn’t mean you aren’t taking space up on the street).

          Surely someone who can operate The Internet can’t be this stupid. Surely?

          And yet, the only time of the day when the transportation network is crammed with people…the one time of day where the utility of the system as justified makes sense, is the one time a day when there are no bikes available for people to use.

          One time I was going to take the bus during rush hour, but then I checked NextBus, and it turned out the next bus wouldn’t arrive for another 50 minutes. So I grabbed a bike. Obviously, this means we need to defund Metro bus service.

          You know, the sad thing is, I’d bet you a substantial amount of money that @joker thinks he’s some sort of thoughtful, “common-sensical” ideologue. As opposed to someone who just can’t be bothered to give more than a half-second’s thought to any subject before spouting off.

          In any case, when drivers pay the cost of driving, then we can talk about subsidies.

          • Dr Pangloss

            Sorry, “ideologue” should read “iconoclast”. Damn, now look, I’ve spent even more time on this claptrap.

      • Anonymous

        I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have space in his apartment for a bike.

        • mv

          I lived in a small studio in DC and *still* had room for my bike, so that argument doesn’t hold.

    • Anonymous

      “You are not entitled to use a bike whenever you want one. You are allowed to use one when one is available. Did you think you were getting your own personal bike??”

      The fact is, that bikeshare is somewhere between the bus and having your own bike. People’s “entitlement” aside, it hurts the company when people can’t rely on a bike to commute because they have no impetus to be a member and bikeshare’s reputation is damaged. The entire system was designed for commuters for chrissake! Obviously people realize they aren’t getting their own bike. They have to return it within 30 minutes and they have to work around where the stations are.

      • Anon

        “The entire system was designed for commuters for chrissake!”

        Source ?

        • steve

          who needs a source? it’s common sense, isn’t it? between where the stations are located and the fact that you’re only allowed to use it for 30 minutes… I don’t expect they think that enough people would use it to buy groceries to keep the business afloat.

          • kt

            you can keep a bike for longer than 30 minutes, you’ll just have to start paying the fees rather than having your ride be free.

          • quincycyclist

            If the entire system were designed for commuters there would be way more trucks out there redistributing bikes.

            The system is designed to let people use bikes to get from one place to another at any time. That’s it.

          • Dr Pangloss

            Einstein once said that “common sense” is the set of prejudices we acquire before the age of 18.

            No, it’s not a “commuter” system. It’s a “replaces short trips from other modes” system. Actually, the best thing about the system is that such uses (i.e. commuting) are self-limiting.

        • rooty tooty

          funny, i never thought for a SECOND that this was intended for commuters, and i’m frankly annoyed (as a cabi member) that commuters use it for their to/from work transportation.

          i signed up as a way to fill the gaps getting around town – last minute, unplanned trips; times that cabs are hard to come by or silly for the distance planned; times that metro has stopped running; times that metro or a bus doesn’t go the most efficient way to where i want.

          if i’m going to be one more cranky person here, i direct my annoyance at the people using it as their DAILY transportation to/from work. seriously, buy your own bike if that’s how often you plan to *rely* it.

          PoP states that admo/columbia heights/mt p have ~118 docks. do you really think that every potential bicycle commuter could be served by that? no way. you signed up with eyes wide open about how many bikes were available.

          • Dr Pangloss

            “rooty tooty” gets it.

          • Anon

            Exactly !

    • Anon

      I agree that the stands and total number of bikes needs to be dramatically expanded, adding concentration to areas that are currently frequently empty and/or full while at the same time spreading the system out…

      That said, everything I said in my first post remains valid.

    • Kenny

      Preach on

    • anon

      -100

      Stupid post. Lots of indignation from someone who doesn’t use the system.

      • Anon

        Your post is so constructive, in contrast to mine, which was completely uninformed and pointless, right?

    • Mony

      Great post, totally agree, though I was stymied this morning myself, I use bikeshare to get to work early, as I typically leave on time if based on a walk.

  • Of course there is room for improvement but all these comments such as it “sucks” is a total failure and so on are so not justified. I truly hope some of the remarks are in sarcasm I am not detecting (hungeegirl)

    • hungeegirl

      what are you asking me if i was sarcastic about?

  • anonymous

    I live near the Whole Foods on P and every time I walk home I see that the station is totally full, meaning if I rode from work I would have no place to park it. This alone is keeping me from joining.

    • Dr Pangloss

      Good. This is part of the self-limiting nature of the system. As has been pointed out over and over, there are too many “pure” commuters in the system already. The system works best when trips are short, and relatively multidirectional, not ones that empty all stations outside the CBD, and fill all the ones in a 20 square block area.

      Commuter trips actually add an additional burden to the system, as redistribution efforts need to be ramped up in a futile race to keep up.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a member (no stands close enough to my house), but I biked past a couple of people trying to return bikes to the Petworth station last night, which was totally full. I felt really bad for them, since the closest stand is probably at least half a mile away (and may have been full as well, according to previous comments).

    But, I do think it’s an awesome program that could be fixed with some further analysis of distribution/time.

  • JMC

    CaBi? Really? Same number of syllables as “Bikeshare.”

    • textdoc

      Agreed. Also, how is it pronounced… “kah-bee”? “Kah-bye”?

      If we must shorten it, couldn’t it be “CapBikes”?

      Maybe I’m just being a stick in the mud, but IMO, these kinds of abbreviations don’t seem to work as well in English as they do in Japanese, where Brad Pitt is affectionately known as “BuraPi” (short for “Buraddo Pitto”), Kimura Takuya is “KimuTaku,” etc.

      I can deal with NoMa, but CaBi and CoHi seem to be pushing it.

      • JMC

        CoHi is the worst. AdMo is next worst.

        • Followed by “Cool Heights” and “NoSwamPoo.”

          • textdoc

            “NoSwamPoo” made me laugh! What is it supposed to be?

          • Tres

            He’s combining NoMa and Swampoodle, and/or making a statement about swamp etiquette.

        • Tres

          Followed by USA.

    • Dr Pangloss

      Yes, but fewer than half the letters.

  • fireman

    main problem si that there aren’t enough bikes in places people want to use them. this isn’t rocket science people.

  • Nick

    +1

  • Anonymous

    complain complain complain. if you rely on it that heavily, buy your own damn bike.

    • me

      And if you do buy a bike, learn the rules for biking on a city street. I swear, the next time I have a green light and am going straight through it, if I have to stop for a bicyclist to go across in front of me through a red light one more time, I WILL HIT YOU.

      • you

        threats of violence and road rage are just awesome. can i ask, have you ever implored the entire community of car drivers to stop running red lights, come to complete stops at stop signs, not exceeding speed limits, not double parking… etc? bike aren’t the only ones who disregard traffic laws. and when they do so, they pose far less of a threat to everyone else on the road than when cars do.

        • LisaT

          I agree with both of you.

          And I’ll probably get slammed for this, but the roads were not designed for bike traffic. I’d love to see more bike lanes, but until they’re there, (many) cyclists are in the way and pose more of a danger to themselves than anyone. The streets are narrow, there isn’t room for 2-4 lanes of auto traffic AND cyclists AND parking.

          • Dr Pangloss

            I’d love to see more bike lanes, but until they’re there, (many) cyclists are in the way and pose more of a danger to themselves than anyone.

            You know, that’s weird. I was just about to say that *drivers* were in the way. As far as posing a danger, I’d say riding on city streets is pretty safe–certainly safer than operating an automobile on the Beltway, which is something most folks don’t even think twice about.

            In any case, I don’t think anyone’s going to slam you: the right of cyclists to be on the streets is pretty much indisputable, it’s relatively safe, and finally, as a cyclist, if you’re irritating drivers, an irritated driver is a driver that sees you. And the 99.99999% of car-cyclist collisions are caused by either 1) driver’s not paying attention; or 2) the cyclists cowering off in the door zone, riding the wrong-way, riding on the sidewalk, etc, etc…

            I’m intrigued by your argument that ” there isn’t room for 2-4 lanes of auto traffic AND cyclists AND parking”, though. Whenever I’m riding around town, there seems to be more than enough room. Could you give us an example?

          • Anon

            Sorry, most accidents are caused by drivers not paying attention to cyclists? Like when I’m not paying attention to a bicycle blowing through a stop sign and I hit him?

            As for drivers being in the way, when bikes can go faster than cars, I guess you can say cars are in the way. Until then, you have no point.

            I’m all for bikes being on the roads, its the people that ride them that irk me. The entitled, arrogant, attitude you display, Pangloss, is exactly what sparks apathy or disdain for bikers.

            There are indisputable benefits to increasing the bike capacity of our infrastructure, but there are no benefits to us tolerating such a shitty attitude from bike riders like you, Pangloss.

          • Dr Pangloss

            I’m all for bikes being on the roads, its the people that ride them that irk me. The entitled, arrogant, attitude you display, Pangloss, is exactly what sparks apathy or disdain for bikers.

            Oh, yawn. At least I “irk” you; you bore the fuck out of me. You seriously can’t come up with anything better than “entitled” and “arrogant”? I’ll let the woman in the SUV who was sitting behind me in traffic honking her horn at me to “get the Hell off the road” that you think I’m entitled and arrogant. Heh.

            Anyway, I’m curious. You said:

            Sorry, most accidents are caused by drivers not paying attention to cyclists? Like when I’m not paying attention to a bicycle blowing through a stop sign and I hit him?

            Does this happen to you a lot? Weird, I drive quite a bit, and I’ve never come all that close to hitting a cyclist, much less hit one. If you hit cyclists who are rolling stop-signs, you must hit a fuckload of jaywalking pedestrians.

            Do you spend a lot on auto detailing?

          • LisaT

            Anon hit it! I think we should make more room for bikes, not for the egos of their riders. And I’ll just be honest–I think bikes should have their own streets or at least lanes and should not be on the road with cars.

            “I’m intrigued by your argument that ” there isn’t room for 2-4 lanes of auto traffic AND cyclists AND parking”, though. Whenever I’m riding around town, there seems to be more than enough room. Could you give us an example?”

            If a car has to swerve into the adjacent lane to avoid hitting a cyclist riding in that lane, the bike is in the way. If a car gets “stuck” behind a cyclist (or five) riding in the middle of a lane and cannot even go the speed limit due to said cyclist, that bike is in the way. I’m sorry, but if I miss a green light because of your pedaling, you’re in my way.

          • Dr Pangloss

            If a car has to swerve into the adjacent lane to avoid hitting a cyclist riding in that lane, the bike is in the way.

            Why would the car have to “swerve into the adjacent lane”? Isn’t the driver paying attention? You’re legally required to wait until you can pass safely.

            If a car gets “stuck” behind a cyclist (or five) riding in the middle of a lane and cannot even go the speed limit due to said cyclist, that bike is in the way.

            You do realize that the “speed limit” is a *maximum* speed limit, don’t you? It doesn’t sound like it.

            I’m sorry, but if I miss a green light because of your pedaling, you’re in my way.

            If I miss a green light because you’re stuck in gridlocked auto traffic, are you in my way? Frankly, this scenario seems much more common in DC.

            Whenever I read this kind of incredibly entitled, arrogant type of comment, the first thing I think is, boy, you are really, really not going to like the next few decades. The number of cyclists on DC’s streets is only going to get larger. You’ll probably want to get used to sharing the streets, as you are legally required to do. (Drivers do have a monopoly on adhering to the law, right?)

          • LisaT

            haha I’m entitled and arrogant because I use the roads for what they were designed for more often than not? Nice. But you are right about one thing–I’m not going to like throngs of cyclists on busy narrow city streets if they have no bike lanes.

            And if a car has to swerve it’s not because a driver isn’t paying attention. Perhaps “swerve” was too severe a word for the sensitive little cyclists. I meant having to go around, creeping over the lane divide because, believe it or not, WE ARE TRYING TO AVOID HITTING YOU. But if the driver in the next lane isn’t aware of that, then we have a car crash, then we block traffic, then we all go nowhere. Except maybe the cyclist who continues on, oblivious.

            Oh, and thanks for pointing out the definition of “speed limit” to me. I honestly and truly wasn’t aware of what that meant. Wow. All these years of driving and it took a blog comment post for me to learn what LIMIT means.

            I’ve worked in transportation, and even specifically in Transportation Demand Management. I’ve worked on bike/ped safety programs, and honestly, it’s Pangloss’s attitude that makes drivers want cyclists off the road. We need to make room and make it safe for all modes, but bikes darting in and out of vehicular traffic isn’t the way to do it–and your side won’t win any friends by whining about the fact that you’re in danger from the big bad drivers out there.

            The Europeans have a lot of good systems in this regard, and we’d do ourselves a favor to learn from them.

            But off topic. Back to complaining about/praising Capital Bikeshare. I REFUSE to abbreviate that. :)

          • Dr Pangloss

            @LisaT

            haha I’m entitled and arrogant because I use the roads for what they were designed for more often than not? Nice. But you are right about one thing–I’m not going to like throngs of cyclists on busy narrow city streets if they have no bike lanes.

            Of course you laugh, but yes, you *are* entitled and arrogant if you think you’ve got some special claim to the road because you use roads for “what they were designed for more often than not”. Frankly, I’m stunned that you’re obviously so entitled and arrogant that you can’t even seem to recognize that outsized sense of entitlement. None of DCs streets were “designed” for cars. DC’s roads precede the automobile. That the private automobile slowly coopted nearly all the available public space in the city certainly doesn’t give you any added right to the roadway.

            And if a car has to swerve it’s not because a driver isn’t paying attention. Perhaps “swerve” was too severe a word for the sensitive little cyclists. I meant having to go around, creeping over the lane divide because, believe it or not, WE ARE TRYING TO AVOID HITTING YOU.

            This reminds me of the old Chris Rock bit, “I take care of *my* children!” I think you are certainly to be commended for doing the bare minimum required to legally operate a motor vehicle on the public roads. Kudos. You’re a hero.

            But if the driver in the next lane isn’t aware of that, then we have a car crash, then we block traffic, then we all go nowhere. Except maybe the cyclist who continues on, oblivious.

            As someone who has worked in transportation in the past, you’re probably aware of your legal requirement to pass slower-moving traffic when it’s safe to do so. Again, this is the absolute bare-minimum fulfillment of your responsibility as a road user.

            Oh, and thanks for pointing out the definition of “speed limit” to me. I honestly and truly wasn’t aware of what that meant. Wow. All these years of driving and it took a blog comment post for me to learn what LIMIT means.

            Sure! Glad to be of help. It was pretty clear you didn’t understand, given your complaint that sometimes the occasional cyclists thwarts you in gratifying your desire to “go the speed limit”.

            I’ve worked in transportation, and even specifically in Transportation Demand Management. I’ve worked on bike/ped safety programs, and honestly, it’s Pangloss’s attitude that makes drivers want cyclists off the road. We need to make room and make it safe for all modes, but bikes darting in and out of vehicular traffic isn’t the way to do it–and your side won’t win any friends by whining about the fact that you’re in danger from the big bad drivers out there.

            Your obviously blinkered perspective must’ve been quite instrumental in ensuring cyclists and pedestrians were “kept the Hell out of cars’ way” during the “Bad ol’ Days” of transportation. Did you work in TDM during the early 70s, by chance? All I can say is, thank God things are changing, and that most major urban centers in the US have given such old-fashioned thinking the boot.

            But it’s pretty damned rich that you accuse me of whining, as I said several times that cycling in the city is actually quite safe; with a minimal amount of education. Heck, I’ve been doing it for several decades and haven’t been in a single collision with an auto. So given that your previous comments have been one long keening lament that those “entitled” cyclists won’t cede the city’s infrastructure to you and your car, it’s comically clear who’s having the tantrum.

            My point was that what you wish for is not going to happen; in fact, it’s receding into your rear-view mirror every day. The number of drivers who are DC residents and “want cyclists off the road” are in the distinct minority (it’s a distinctly suburban attitude), and their percentages are shrinking every year. Urban cyclists certainly aren’t going anywhere, and until we get some sort of comprehensive, dedicated infrastructure like Copenhagen (which may happen over the course of, what?, 40 years?), you’ll need to get used to it.

          • Well yes

            I am equally annoyed by cars not obeying traffic laws, though I’m more surprised by cyclists doing it given how much more vulnerable they are on a bike. I had a cyclist yesterday look at me like I was nuts for driving through a four way stop after I came to a complete stop when he was trying to blow straight through it, and a minute after that saw another cyclist making his merry way down a one way street. And although I do see cars running red lights (usually as it’s turning from yellow), I see cyclists turn left on red all the time if they feel no cars are coming. I keep expecting to see some horrific accident the way I see some cyclists completely disregarding red lights, stop signs and one way streets. And, like I said, I hate drivers who disobey traffic laws as well, I’m just more surprised by relatively unprotected cyclists doing it.

        • me

          I follow the traffic laws. I see some drivers breaking traffic laws, whereas I see almost 100% of the cyclists breaking traffic laws. Did you know that you cannot go through red lights, even if the traffic is clear? I have never seen a cyclist stop at a red light and wait there while traffic is clear. Did you know that you need to stop at stop signs? Not slow down, look, and continue to bike, but actually stop? Didn’t think so.

          • Dr Pangloss

            100% of drivers also break the laws. Did you know you’re legally required to drive below the maximum posted speed limit? Not 5 or 10 mph *over* the speed limit. But *below* the speed limit? Didn’t think so.

            Same goes with signalling, coming to a full stop at stop signs, full stop before right-turn on red, etc, etc…

            Wait…someone just informed me that *humans* break the laws. The only difference is that our travel mode determines which ones we can break. Thanks for the incredibly un- self-conscious traffic law lesson, though.

          • anon

            dr p is laughable i hope you dont stop at a stop sign and get run over

          • Anon

            Pangloss: You know there’s a difference between going a couple MPH above the speed limit and COMPLETELY BLOWING THROUGH A RED LIGHT in front of oncoming traffic.

            You do realize that, right?

            I too have noticed a vast majority of bikers breaking the law and putting themselves in immediate, severe danger. Whereas, most of what you, Pangloss, bring up, doesnt necessarily pose a danger.

            Let me ask you, if you’ve ever driven a car, when you come to a red light and you see there’s no one around, do you stop, or for the sake of momentum and gas mileage, just go right through it? I, personally, have never seen that. Ive seen people run red lights, but not with the same amount of danger that I see multiple bikes a day do it.

          • me

            I was going to argue my point, but “Anon” above me here has said basically everything that I would have expounded upon. Thank you.

          • Dr Pangloss

            Ah, got it: if you’re in a car breaking the law, that’s okay, because it’s completely safe, and no one’s in any danger. But if you’re on a bike, treating stop signs as yield signs, and red lights as stop signs, it’s a great danger to the Republic. May not be a particularly compelling argument, but it’s certainly entertaining.

            Anyway, for all the chest-thumping and lines in the sand being drawn (“Next time I will NOT STOP!!1!”), the statistics show that cyclist behavior is actually pretty safe. Otherwise, you’d see a lot more cyclists being hit in these “unsafe” situations. But we don’t see that. What we see is cyclists being killed by incompetent douchebags taking right turns and not checking their blind spots. Or turning left across traffic–accelerating to beat the oncoming cars–without checking for oncoming bikes.

            Cyclists are pretty good judges of whether it’s safe to proceed or not. I guess the alternative explanation is that our region’s drivers are such amazing drivers that only their unparalleled skills stand between area cyclists and their deserved deaths on the tarmac. Who knew you guys were such great drivers? Thanks!

          • Anon

            You realize that citing “statistics” and saying “cyclists are pretty good judges of what is safe” is complete idiotic hypocrisy, right? Even if it is safe, which I’ve seen plenty of examples of it not being safe, but even if it were safe, IT IS STILL ILLEGAL.

            Same fucking thing I’ve seen you say about the speed limit. Its illegal, period.

            Why the double standard for bikers and drivers? Its ok for bikers to break the law now? Because they’re “pretty good judges of what is safe”.

            I’m sure you’re a pretty good judge of whats safe, until you accidentally dont see that semi-truck with a green light and you get laid out like bird droppings hitting its windshield.

          • Dr Pangloss

            Maybe you need to pick a “handle”, or maybe you’re the same person, but it’s an illustration of just how schizophrenic most drivers are when it comes to “The Scofflaw Cyclist” that the first response to my comment was:

            Pangloss: You know there’s a difference between going a couple MPH above the speed limit and COMPLETELY BLOWING THROUGH A RED LIGHT in front of oncoming traffic.

            You do realize that, right?

            And thirty seconds later:

            You realize that citing “statistics” and saying “cyclists are pretty good judges of what is safe” is complete idiotic hypocrisy, right? Even if it is safe, which I’ve seen plenty of examples of it not being safe, but even if it were safe, IT IS STILL ILLEGAL.

            Same fucking thing I’ve seen you say about the speed limit. Its illegal, period.

            Great, so we agree then: people disobey laws to the extent they think a) they can get away with them; and b) they think their actions endanger themselves or others.

            I was merely pointing out that there’s a staggering amount of cognitive dissonance that needs to be dealt with to make the argument that “OMG!!! 100% CYCLSTS DON’T OBEY LAWS!!1” on the one hand, but then seconds later to assert that the numerous laws which drivers disregard with impunity just happen to be laws which are completely superfluous. What a coincidence. No danger in ignoring those! Why even bring ’em up??

            Leaving aside the fact that excessive speed *has* been shown to increase risk of mortality among non-drivers, let’s say drivers are super-duper at gauging risk, at least to themselves. While they may not give a shit about anyone else (5-10 mph over 25 in areas of pedestrian traffic raises mortality considerably), we’ll assume that they’re correct in their assessment that speeding isn’t a risk to them personally.

            So why should we think cyclists are any worse at gauging risk to themselves when yielding/stopping at stop-signs/red-lights?

            My citing statistics is relevant because they show such behavior is safe–both to cyclists and to pedestrians and drivers. Which is considerably more than we can say about laws which drivers ignore frequently–or ignore universally.

            In any case, you may want to look up the meaning of hypocrisy: if I were arguing that drivers should have their licenses revoked if they so much as failed to signal a lane change, and cyclists should be free to do whatever they liked, you might have a point. But I’m not.

            I’m merely saying that “cyclists don’t obey the law” is a foolish standard.

          • Dr Pangloss

            I’m sure you’re a pretty good judge of whats safe, until you accidentally dont see that semi-truck with a green light and you get laid out like bird droppings hitting its windshield.

            I suppose that’s possible, but not very likely. Actually, according to statistics, I’m much more likely to be in a bike lane, only to be passed by a dump truck whose driver then takes a right turn straight through me. I take care not to put myself in that situation though.

            Safety starts with understanding where risk lies. Drivers are notoriously bad at evaluating where the risk to cyclists lies.

  • Liz

    I use the system as a supplement to using my own bike to get around, and I think that is optimal. I use it when I’m biking somewhere where I don’t want to leave my bike unattended and worry about it getting stolen, or if I’m going to be drinking and don’t want to bike home. I also used it for a few days while I was getting repairs on my bike.
    I understand not everyone wants to buy their own bike, but I don’t think the system was designed so that everyone in the city could have a bike at anytime they want.

  • OrlyNowai

    I agree with the sentiment, but not with the foot-stamping anger. CaBi is a new program, and they have openly admitted to having a problem figuring out the restocking. If they seem self-congratulatory, consider their perspective as a service majority-funded by public grants- if they want more money from DDOT and Arlington, they need to show that the program is successful, so their official announcements are going to highlight that. The restocking issue is a tough one to crack- more bikes won’t fully solve the problem, more racks will attract more users. It seems to me that they would almost need to have a truck per two racks ferrying bikes back and forth from neighborhoods to downtown for the duration of rush hour. That’s a huge expense and logistical challenge that isn’t going to get solved immediately.
    Have some patience and empathy for the employees- it’s a young service trying to figure out the unique challenges of DC’s usage patterns.
    Here’s an article discussing the issue: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2011/04/14/bikesharing-is-bikecaring/
    Yes, the comment about “It’s a bike SHARE, just get there early” is galling, but again, from his perspective, they’re doing the best they can given that everyone wants to use the bikes in the same way during rush hour so the system can’t self-balance.

  • anon_

    what they need to do is not necessarily add more bikes, but add more racks. If you look at the map of what’s available, you can easily tell it’s due to people commuting to work. The residential areas are empty but most downtown locations do not have an empty slot. I guarantee you, the evening will be opposite. Maybe they should do some overnight bike relocation to anticipate the rush hour commute.

    • Nick

      They already do this. The upstream racks are filled each night with bikes from downtown.

  • EPF

    Why would you not want to purchase a cheapo bike and a U lock? It’s certainly cheaper that Bike Share and you are guaranteed a space. I’m not opposed to Bike Share but it seems like a silly idea in practice.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve tried. You really can’t get a working bike for $75.

      • rooty tooty

        you haven’t tried hard enough.

      • Tres

        The question is whether you can get one that is as good as the Bikeshare models AND comes with free 100% reliable locks.

        Really, there are plenty of locks that cost alone more than $75 — and most people buy two.

        • Anonymous

          It’s good for the occasional biker who wants to hop on a bike when they feel like it and not have to deal with putting air in the tires, etc.

          Also if you own a bike you have to find a place to store it.

    • That Ain’t Dog Pee

      Until last week I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 8 years and back then I was riding in a sleepy little Iowa town with little traffic. I’m not willing to commit to buying, maintaining, and storing my own bicycle. So, I joined Bikeshare to get my feet wet. So far, I’ve ridden on only a lightly traveled residential road. As I get more confidence in my biking abilities (and a little more healthy cardio-wise, yes- I’m THAT out of shape), I imagine that I’ll venture out into more heavily traveled roads and maybe eventually become a bike owner. Until then, BikeShare works perfectly for me.

  • Anony

    I agree that CaBi is impossibly frustrating.

    The problem isn’t so much Cabi–it’s the way DC is arranged. Most work downtown, and most live don’t live downtown. So, everyone is trying to use the bikes at the same time to move from A to B while very few are moving the bikes from B to A, i.e., no natural distribution occurs.

    You can build 100 stations and the same problems will arise until more people live downtown. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. It’s just the sad reality of the system.

    So far, I estimate that about 20% of the time I can use a bike when I want to. That sucks. But the cool part is that I actually use a bike.

    • anon

      I agree totally. But since the pattern is so obvious: the bikes move from the outlying areas to downtown and then back again, why can’t they redistribute them more quickly? I rarely see a truck anywhere so don’t tell me they’re stuck in traffic.

  • DL

    Luckily (so far) I leave for work early enough that there are bikes at the 10th and U location. Returning from Chinatown to the area (at 7ish) I usually find 1-3 spots open at a few locations. I have been forced to bike around once for a spot which was of course was annoying. However, I still find the convenience of the bikeshare to outweigh the negative. I don’t have to worry about it being stolen. I don’t have to worry about maintaining it. And I don’t have to worry about biking to work only to have it be raining when it’s time to quit for the day. Ride and forget.

  • M

    I wonder if the problem is that they actually don’t have the resources to properly balance the bikes and move them around? Their business model may not have accounted for the need to service more quickly as they got more members.

    • They have said that they have three vans (each of which can hold 20 bikes) and two smaller vehicles that do the redistribution. One of those vans was just purchased two weeks ago.

      So yes, even if you can restock 80 bikes every 15 minutes (which seems like an optimistic assessment, given the loading/unloading plus transit time from downtown to uptown and back), you’re still only making a marginal improvement.

      More vans would help, as would more stations and bikes, but I don’t think you can ever get to a situation in which there’s not still some kind of crunch in high usage areas (Columbia Heights, U Street, Dupont), because in a membership-based system, demand will continue to expand to meet supply.

  • jm

    everyone should read the WCP article on this from a few weeks ago. a reporter followed a day in the life of the guy who is actively redistributing bikes.

    ..yeah they have one van for this. I know they are hiring for a 2nd. but adding 250 bikes isn’t gonna change the distribution problems. they need 10-20 crews out there doing what this guy does.

    the good news is they know how to do it and the system already has good realtime information, bad news is salaries are expensive.

    • anon

      Jesus Mary Mother of God. They only have one van to redistribute all of the bikes?

      • ontarioroader

        No, there are at least 3 large vans, and several smaller SUV/minivan things.

  • anon

    I use BikeShare to commute from Dupont to Foggy Bottom. I get a bike about 85% of the time, but I do get frustrated when one isn’t available. My frustration doesn’t come from a sense of entitlement but from wanting the system to work and fearing it will go down the tubes if they don’t redistribute bikes more quickly. The pattern of movement, particularly on weekdays, seems fairly clear when you observe it day in and day out. Finally, as for the stupid comments about why we don’t just all use our own bikes… bike share provides flexibility to not be saddled with a bike. I can bike in but take a bus home and then bike in again the next day. Do you wonder why people take a cab and not buy their own car?

  • BF

    Doubling the number of racks in high usage areas would help a great deal and eliminate some of the rebalancing effort. If they did this, then more commuters would have a place to put their bikes at night and there would be more bikes for commuters in the morning. Likewise, more racks in the morning for commuters to leave their bikes, and more bikes in the afternoon to get home. All without increasing the actual number of bikes.

    It’s the racks, stupid.

  • Nick

    Actually they’ve had two vans for a while, and jsut bought a third.

    • Graham

      Yeah. What Nick said.

      Also, I’d like to point out that I can usually find a bike and I live at 16th and U. Having said that, I don’t mind walking or taking the bus either and I don’t commute at normal times. (I work in Crystal City and drive usually)

      Not sure if people know that by contract, a station cannot be completely full or empty for more than 3 hours or else Bikeshare gets a fine. Granted 3 hours seems like a long time at 9AM. In the morning they are taking bikes from downtown and redocking them in empty stations uptown, but they also have to contend with traffic, so it’s not a fast solution.

      Overall, I love Bikeshare. Its cheap and I’m biking now more than I have since I was 10. I look at is as a supplement to the existing transportation infrastructure. I think it sets DC apart in a good positive way.

  • M

    I think this has been bandied about before, but they should let people volunteer to rebalance the bikes by riding from station to station. You could get credit or free membership or something like that for every trip.

    • steve

      +1,000,000

  • M

    Or hell, idealistic CaBi members with time on their hands could just start a movement to rebalance on their own …

    • contest

      they could figure out a way to make a contest out of it – people really went out of their way to participate in the winter warrior contest!

  • John K.

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned this yet, but there is a great app for the iPhone (and most likely Android phones) called spotcycle that tells you where the closest docks are and how many bikes and open spots there are. It works in real time will greatly reduce frustration from wandering around looking for a bike.

    • Kim

      I think most people use the app, but it’s still frustrating when a bike is not available at all. Additionally, I run in to the problem that I need to drop off a bike and can’t find a dock within walking distance of my destination. I always check before I leave, but a lot can change during a 15-20 min. ride.

    • Anony

      Spotcycle is great. But it sucks when I look at the app at 7 PM and the 8 closest stations to my office are empty. Oh, and the 3 or 4 closest ones to my house are full.

  • 11th

    i would have much preferred the city spend what it’s spending on the capital bikeshare on improved biking infrastructure (bike lanes, dedicated signals where needed, potholes, etc.). if you want a zip car version of a bike, great, but there are a lot more pressing needs, i think, for those of us who have and use bikes to get around.

    • Speaking as someone who hadn’t regularly ridden a bike in a decade, I have taken about 70 rides on BikeShare and will probably be buying a bike this week.

      I think one of the greatest benefits of the system is that it is introducing new riders to the DC streets, and showing that bicycling is an effective way to get around the city. (And helping people get past the misperception that cycling is limited to the spandex brigade and hipsters on fixies).

      With over 10,000 members and counting (many of whom were not regular cyclists in the past), I think you’ll start to see more new people in the District take up cycling, whether that’s on bikeshare bikes or by becoming bike owners who are even more invested in infrastructure.

      And that increased ridership and constituency is what will lead to better infrastructure priorities for everyone.

      • JohnDC

        +1 Agreed as I am one of of those people. I’ve lived in DC for almost a decade and only through bikeshare have started riding bikes as a way from getting one place to another enough where I’m starting to use my old bike again.

      • Jim Ed

        +1

        I’d been wanting to take up biking in the city for over a year to curb some of my reliance on the car, but I just didn’t have the expendable income to buy a bike and then realize I hated it. The Bikeshare has given me a low cost introduction to city biking, and turns out that I love it. So I’ll be using the bikeshare for the forseeable future, but am already saving to buy my own nice bike once I get more experience riding on the streets on the slow bikeshare bikes.

  • kt

    i’m surprised by how many members are spending so much time expressing their frustration towards CaBi. it’s not like they can snap their fingers and instantly drop in more stations. it takes time and planning. the system is not even a year old. they are working on making improvements all the time.

    i’m also not sure why folks would continue to rely on using it to get to work if they know that their nearest station is empty every morning. it’s rush hour! that is exactly when everyone wants a bike. i live in mt pleasant and i think you have to get to the cabi station well before 8:30 if you want a chance at getting a bike. that is why i don’t count on using it in the morning, and i use it for other purposes at other times.

    i saw a ton of cabi bikes out there this past weekend, even some on the mt vernon trail, and it seemed like folks were loving it. i’m happy to be a member and support the movement.

  • Me

    i’m obsessed with the spotcycle app. i love watching these trends.

    on another note, they improperly charged me $70 because of an over night trip I did not take. Had me docking the bike at a location I’ve never been to more than 24 hours later than i actually did dock it…at a different location.

    called three times and havent gotten through.

    • me too

      something similar happened to me on my first use – i didn’t fully dock the bike and was charged the 1-day fee. maybe your bike didn’t lock into place, someone else took it, and that’s why it showed up as being docked somewhere else? keep trying to get through to them – they did immediatley take the charge off my account.

    • That Ain’t Dog Pee

      The same thing happened to me. I spoke to someone who indicated that it was probably an issue with the dock. However, it was my first time docking it and I am an idiot so I’m sure I was the problem, not the dock. The person on the phone did not mention anything about refunding my $70, he would only say that a tech would call me back….I don’t need a tech, I need my $70. Since its been a week and no one, not even the tech has called me back, I’ve sent them an email. I was hoping that since my rental history proves that it was my very first ride, they’d be understanding and just refund me the $70. If not, I hope that they at least use my $70 to help the bikeshare program improve.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    I think these folks have a right to be self-congratulatory because the program is clearly a huge success. The fact that you can’t find a bike when you want one is indicative of the popularity of the program.
    It may be hard for members to hear this but what they are paying for is the possibility that they will be able to find a bike, not a guarantee that every time they want a bike one will be there for them. Your Netflix subscription doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get to see every movie you want to see the exact date you want to see it. If it’s not in stock, you’re out of luck.
    There is a limit to the number of bikes that can be made available. There is only so much available curb space for these racks. They can’t be on every corner and can only be but so big. And the trucks that rebalance the bike numbers at each station can only do it at a limited pace.
    If you want or need to ride a bike every day, you should buy or rent one.

    • yogi

      true about the empty stations being a sign of success – what’s that yogi berra quote? no one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded?

  • Wise Guy

    It’s too popular. They should just shut the whole damn thing down!

  • Lee

    Cry cry cry. While we’re at it…

    You know what sucks? The metro being crowded during rush hour. I mean gahd (said with eye roll and huff), don’t all these people…like…have other places to be? Why can’t I just sit by myself in peace?

    And the bus? Gross. It’s like they never clean it and it is never there when it should be and then it gets stuck in traffic when you are on it. Who can figure out what bus to take anyway?

    And why isn’t there like a metro stop in Georgetown or H Street or Logan Circle or Adams Morgan or Brightwood. GAH!!!

    Don’t like this? Buy a car and pay for parking. Buy a bike and risk it damaged or stolen. Take a cab. Or walk. The bikeshare wasn’t designed to be available at all times to *YOU* and only you, especially during rush hour. It’s just another public alternative.

  • Edgar

    I’m the guy who tallied the 118 docks/17 bikes yesterday. My main grievance besides lack of bikes is that the online system does not account for BROKEN BIKES. So, even though it may say there are 3 available, they could all three be broken, making you walk to the damned station for nothing.
    When I write to complain, I get their same canned answer to everything: “we trying…blah…we’ll get better…blah…we’re expanding (downtown)..” Whatever. The other posters are right, it’s time to just buy my own bike now the CaBi has gotten me used to using one. Will have to stop sucking on the wrong tit!

    • quincycyclist

      Actually the online system should be accounting for broken bikes. If the bikes are broken and can’t be taken out of the dock, they don’t show up as a free bike or an open dock.

      • Warder St

        This is simply not the case. I have stood next to a dock with a broken bike for an extended period of time (15+ minutes i.e. three 5 minute refresh cycles) and the online data still displayed one bike available, when in fact that one bike was out of service. This has happen more than a few times. This makes Spotcycle marginally useful.

  • Anonymous

    This program is great. In a few years with growth it will be even greater.

  • Anon

    Another view from a satisfied CaBi member. The system works best if you just view it as a transportation *option*. No, there will not always be a bike available and sometimes the rack will be full when you reach your destination. But sometimes there is an accident on your bus route. Sometimes (ok, often) Metro is a complete clusterf*ck. Sometimes you just don’t feel like walking. If you are looking for CaBi to fill all of your transportation and commuting needs, then yes, you will be disappointed. The empty racks are a sign of resounding success. When I signed up I realized that it would take a year of two to resolve the inevitable growing pains. Even at the full $75/year, I calculate that I made that money back in the first 4 months of my membership by replacing bus rides (and biking was often MUCH faster). I also own my own bike and use it to commute somewhat regularly. Bikeshare fills in the gaps when I don’t have my bike with me. It’s awesome (although it would be slightly less awesome without Spotcycle; that app is worth it’s weight in gold).

    The only problem I’ve actually run across is other users and not the bikes, actually. Approaching a half full rack I saw a woman going from bike to bike trying her key. She couldn’t seem to get them out of the rack and moved onto to the next one. I thought maybe her keyfob was defective or something and offered to help. Turns out she wasn’t pulling on the bike hard enough, but instead of just moving to the next bike she pressed the Repair button on each one taking it out of service. This was on 3-4 bikes. Doh! Luckily it was just a first timer mistake.

    Then there was the asshat who I saw dock a bike at an empty rack just as I was approaching. “Sweet!” I thought. As I walked up he turned the seat backwards and lowered it all the way (the signal from CaBi staff that a bike is out of service). Turns out he was just going in to grab coffee and was trying to “reserve” the bike. When I asked if the bike was broken, he glared and walked away.

    • Dr Pangloss

      ” Turns out she wasn’t pulling on the bike hard enough”

      Tip: If one of the bikes won’t come out, just grab the back of the seat, and lift the rear wheel about a foot off the ground. It’ll release easily. (Hat Tip: GF)

  • P’worth

    Well, I’m just going to chime in to say that while I know many people have legitimate gripes, and the system certainly has some growing pains, I’ve been more than delighted. It’s been amazing for me as another public transportation option. Love it love it love it.

  • D

    I joined shortly after the system opened. With a tenth of today’s membership, capacity was not a problem even during the middle of rush hour. Nor was it a problem most of the winter thanks to the cold weather. At the time, I’d read that capacity issues sometimes plagued more mature bikeshare systems (like London’s) because of their success and knew that it was likely to happen with CaBi, and that it would reduce the system’s utility to me personally. But it seemed more important that the fledgling system be used broadly and gain community support, especially not knowing the new administration’s views on the system. By now, usage data and these posts clearly shown that there is demand for a robust bikeshare system in this city. Membership would have continued to grow anyway, but I don’t think the Living Social deal was well-timed, with the planned expansion not to be completed for months. CaBi is now in danger of reaching a point where some current and future members start to wonder whether they can rely on the system enough to make the annual membership fee worthwhile. Knowing this, CaBi is almost certainly evaluating ways to improve the system within their resource constraints and I’m hopeful we’ll here more on that soon. In the meantime, I think it’s important for us as members to show support for further expansion beyond what’s already planned.

  • Chris

    Come on folks. The system is only 8 months old! It has obviously been more of a success than anyone dared dream. Could you imagine if they had gone big to start and nobody showed up? This summer is going to trying but they will eventually get things settled out. Lastly, as other have said, it is a transportation option not a guaranteed ride. I love it and share a bike when I can.

  • PetworthRes

    +1

    Also makes sense if your office doesn’t provide anywhere to lock up a bike (I wouldn’t want to lock my bike on the street daily), or you live in a studio and don’t want your bike to take up a major part of your apartment.

    • logic

      its a bike SHARE program. when you share you dont always get to use something. if you want a bike every day, for all of your needs then purchase one. the needed additional funds to expand so they went through groupon to increase ridership, it takes time to expand and cant be done over night.

      again, its SHARING

  • Dr Pangloss

    Look, the question is, what’s bikeshare for:

    If you think the answer to that question is “To give everyone who wants one with a bike when they need it” it’s a failure.

    If the answer is to replace car/taxi/bus trips with bike trips, i.e. increase mode share overall, then there’s no other way to interpret it than as a major success.

    To put it as undiplomatically as possible: CaBi doesn’t care if *you* get a bike. CaBi cares that someone gets a bike. The frustration folks are feeling is only icing on the cake: it leads to political pressure to support expansion of the system.

  • Tres

    So many comments! Here’s a question for the readers here: would you have a problem with Bikeshare becoming more commuter-friendly? Why?

    If the system could be further adapted to that use, clearly it would benefit the city. Traffic would decrease, and residents would have access to a means of cheaper, quicker transportation.

    I think to serve commuters, the system needs to attract more occasional users who yield more profit as patrons, as well as institute a “peak fare” charge for certain trips at certain times. If we can increase gross profitability, then more vans can be put into use, alleviating the uneven distribution problem.

    I agree with many of you that the solution for individuals is to buy a personal bike, but that doesn’t address the issues that non-commuters are having with the system as it is.

    • Dr Pangloss

      In order to do this, CaBi’s subsidy would have to be greatly increased. The amount of managed redistribution that would be needed would be quite expensive. As a non-commuter who mostly uses the bikes “off-peak”, I rarely have problems. Maybe local governments *should* fund ten more employees and ten more redistribution vans–but that seems unlikely to happen any time soon.

      • Tres

        Let’s say the cost to staff a single person and the operational costs of the van amount to $40k per year. That cost could easily be recouped by charging $1 for downhill rides during rush hour. Don’t you think a single van could make a least 8 round trips between the most affected downtown and “uphill” stations every day? I’m guessing that’d redistribute maybe 64 bikes.

        Adding more subscribers who “cost” Bikeshare little because they use CaBi like you do — infrequent one way trips, no net redistribution of bikes — would add to the coffers to an even greater degree. If they can attract another 500 users like you, that’s another van/driver they can add to the fleet. In particular, they should go after people who almost never use the system — possibly through advertising.

        The point is to add convenience/functionality. A biker who wants to leave their bike at home today should ideally have the option of bikesharing to work, so they can join their friends for drinks later. If they metro, drive, or bus, that adds to our congestion problem.

        • Tres, I think you’re onto a good idea (and I do think that more non-commuter members leads to more funding for stations/vans).

          But I think you may be low-balling the numbers a bit. Gas alone on a large van in city traffic is probably going to run $10K per year, not to mention maintenace/wear and tear, plus at least $25-30K for the staffer.

          • Tres

            OK, let’s say $50k. Either a van is cost effective based on the your surcharge for downhill-rush, or it isn’t. You can change the surcharge to get us closer to being in the black.

            Or take $50k, divide that by number of bikes a van can redistribute uphill per year, and give that as a bonus redeemable in cash to subscribers. If a van can redistribute 64/day or 16,000/year (working weekdays only), then you can offer customers up to $3/trip and be saving money over the cost of a van. It’s a bit of a radical idea, but other people here have suggested it. I think it’d work out well.

          • Tres

            Or split the difference: $2 to go down, $2 for getting it back up. That could be their new slogan.

            Pays for the van cost, and everyone’s happy.

            Bikeshare is not a bike replacement. People who own bikes also bikeshare. They would be happy(!) to bear the additional cost of $2 for them to be able to attend happy hour or a date after work — neither of which have ended well if you end up hopping on your bike later that evening.

          • Tres

            Another option: offer “Bikeshare Premium” for $300, which would allow trips at any time of day. “Bikeshare Standard” would still cost $75, but only cover non- morning rush hour trips. Standard members would be charged the full $5 daily charge (in addition to membership) during morning commute times — unless their destination is an uphill station.

            People could start out as standard users and upgrade their plan to premium.

        • Marcus Aurelius

          I think there is a serious timing problem with your suggestion. Most of the complaints I am hearing are from people who want to use the bikes during peak hours – i.e., rush hour. I take the metro from Petworth to Metro Center every morning. When I leave my house the bike rack at the Petworth Metro is almost always empty. When I get to work the bike racks within a block or two of my office are all full. More redistribution trips throughout the day are not going to help that problem. Satisfying the rush hour demand means making many more redistribution trips during the narrow band of the day that constitutes rush hour. I have my doubts that any driver can do 8 non-stop roundtrips between AM, DuPont, CH, or Petworth and downtown DC between 6 and 9 am, or 4 and 7 pm, let alone 8 roundtrips where each requires stopping and parking a van twice and loading and unloading bikes.

          • Tres

            I’m not trying to address that issue, which would be solved by increasing the number of bikes and slots. The only issue being addressed by van redistribution in my comment above is the problem created by commuters who take bikes downhill but not uphill, or to work downtown and not back again.

          • Marcus Aurelius

            To continue, a better solution might be to add vans to the system that don’t move bikes from station to station, but rather just take bikes away from the busiest stations downtown when they get full, and add bikes to the busiest stations outside of downtown when they are empty. These vans would not be making roundtrips in DC traffic during rush hour but rather would be stationed in a particular area and go to particular areas as needed. However, this would require a significant capital outlay because we’re talking about adding multiple vans and drivers.

  • Anonymous

    Haven’t read all the commments (busy day at work!) but add me to the frustrated column. I really really want to like this, but everytime so far have had a bad experience. The website will say two bikes are available, I walk 90 seconds around the corner to find zero bikes. Today, I actually got one! (ps – in CH near wonderland)and rode it downtown expecting to park at 18th and M – only to find a completely full stalls in 3 different places. I spent 20-30 minutes looking for a spot and then at least 10 walking back to my office! I could have walked all the way to work in ~30 minutes and avoided bike helmet hair.

    • jch

      Your one of the few people that seem to wear helmets with those. I’ve seen those bikes all too often on my own bike commute down PA ave and it seems like no one likes to wear helmets.

      • Dr Pangloss

        This is actually one of my favorite things about CaBi. It’s made a bit of a dent in the ridiculous “helmets must be worn at all times” riding culture in DC. Unless you’re seven years old, or riding in a peloton, there’s no real need to wear a helmet.

        Cycling is pretty damned safe as it is, and there’s no real evidence that wearing a helmet’s going to protect you if you do get into a serious accident.

        • Oh, man, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve read in a long, long time. A bike helmet in a serious crash is literally the only thing standing between you and brain damage or death. I.e., when your skull hits pavement, your skull fractures, your brain swells, and either you or whole chunks of your brain die.

          • Dr Pangloss

            A bike helmet in a serious crash is literally the only thing standing between you and brain damage or death. I.e., when your skull hits pavement, your skull fractures, your brain swells, and either you or whole chunks of your brain die…

            …and 3/4 inches of styrofoam has been shown to have no effect on this whatsoever. You might Google Wouter Weylandt if you think otherwise.

          • Dr Pangloss

            Always find it interesting the behaviors that American society has decided are completely and utterly irresponsible (“Never ride a bike without a helmet!”), while simultaneously completely ignoring changes that would actually make a much more significant difference:

            http://www.drivingwithoutdying.com/

            If you want to avoid TBI, you’ve got a much better case to make that you should wear a helmet in your car rather than on a slow moving CaBi bike. Of course, that’s completely ridiculous. After all, your teevee told you your car is a perfect cocoon of safety, so nothing to worry about.

          • Thanks for another asinine comment. Most commuters aren’t professional racers going 70 mph downhill when they wreck on their bikes, so the late Mr. Weylandt’s death is less than relevant to the discussion.

        • Anon

          Wow you are really one of the worst bike riders I’ve ever heard of.

          Between your lack of any judgement about red lights and your belief that there is no need to wear a helmet, you are going to end up with TBI in no time.

          Natural selection, I suppose.

          • Anonymous

            +100

          • Dr Pangloss

            Haven’t had any close calls yet. Maybe in another 20 years. You can always hope. When did respecting rationality and logic fall so far out of fashion?

            :P

        • kt

          with pangloss on this one. i always wear a helmet on my own bike, but usually not on bikeshare bikes, which are super solid, steady, and slow.

          and yes, biking is inherently safe. look at copenhagen or paris where biking is extraordinarily safe, yet almost no one wears a helmet. of course, people there are much more respectful and understand the whole ‘sharing the road’ thing a little better than folks in these parts.

          • Petworthy

            This is one of the dumbest arguments of all time. “I’m not going to wear a helmet because auto drivers don’t wear helmets”. Guess what – in a car you are surrounded by a ton of metal designed to crumple around you (ie. you are riding in a helmet to begin with!). On a bike you are the smallest thing on the road, with no control over the actions of the huge metal cars zooming around you. And DC roads ain’t Copenhagen! But hey, if you want brain damage be my guest.

          • Anon

            Tons more people in copenhagen and paris smoke too. Do they do it because its more safe there? Nice try.

          • Dr Pangloss

            @kt:

            Uh oh! Look out! You don’t want to bring reason and statistics out on this one. Sure the numbers don’t bear it out, but cycling is the most dangerous thing you can possibly do in DC. And on the vanishingly rare occasion that you might get into a collision with a car, several ounces of styrofoam can keep you safe!

            http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/09/bike-helmet-doubts.html

            And cars are super-safe! Look, they have air bags!

            (Of course, we have to ignore the evidence that motorists wearing bicycle style helmets while driving would reduce brain injuries by 50%, and save 1 in 5 fatalities).

            http://www.monash.edu.au/muarc/reports/atsb160.pdf

            All of this stuff is just assumed wisdom. But the cultivated atmosphere of fear has a social cost. Just get out and ride.

          • Dr Pangloss

            @Petworthy:

            This is one of the dumbest arguments of all time. “I’m not going to wear a helmet because auto drivers don’t wear helmets”. Guess what – in a car you are surrounded by a ton of metal designed to crumple around you (ie. you are riding in a helmet to begin with!).

            If the kt’s comment was the dumbest argument of all time, it didn’t hold the title for very long. Guess what? A metal cage is not a helmet. Shocking, I know.

            http://www.monash.edu.au/muarc/reports/atsb160.pdf

            Anyway, what do the researchers know? There was a soothing add on the teevee that assured me car travel was safer than sitting on a couch at home!

          • Anonymous

            Your extreme form of bitchy sarcasm is getting old. Actually, I think it got old some 10,000 comments ago.

          • Dr Pangloss

            Your extreme form of bitchy sarcasm is getting old. Actually, I think it got old some 10,000 comments ago.

            People always seem bitchy and sarcastic when they’re telling you you’re wrong. Especially when you’ve got a sneaking suspicion that they may be right.

          • Anon

            As someone who owes his life to the effectiveness of a bike helmet, Dr. Pangloss, I can tell you that you are completely full of shit.

            You should go have a chat with your average ER Doc about whether bike helmets are useful.

          • Dr Pangloss

            You should go have a chat with your average ER Doc about whether bike helmets are useful.

            Respectfully, it’s a pretty obvious (and common) fallacy to say “a helmet saved my life”. Often you see folks who point to a cracked piece of styrofoam as evidence that they were “saved.” Equally fallacious is the argument that “your average ER doc” has anything useful to say about whether bike helmets are useful.

            You might just as well ask the Capitol Police whether we should engage in more “security theater.” The answer will always be “Yes.”

          • I was just watching a Frontline episode on high school football. They were talking about helmets and concussions and they pointed out that football helmets are designed to present skull fractures, not concussions. They do absolutely nothing for concussions. And they’re a lot more substantial then a bike helmet. Wearing a helmet while biking might save your life, but the odds are overwhelming that it will not. The same could be said for wearing one while riding in a car, walking around town or taking a shower.

      • I take either the Pennsylvania Ave or E Street bikelanes to the White House on my afternoon commute, and I always wear a helmet — my experience indicates about a 50/50 helmet/non-helmet rate on bikeshare users, which is only slightly lower than on other users.

        I think typically, I would break out (and this is mostly making observations based on what people are wearing/carrying — either business attire or backpacks, etc.), bike commuters seem to be about twice as likely to wear helmets as “joyriders”/tourists.

  • Anonymous

    Paris seemed to have a dock every two blocks. That’s what we need.

  • Anonymous

    I personally think it was irresponsible of them to offer membership via Groupon without at least putting a cap on how many could be purchased and that is the current cause of most everyone’s gripes BUT I assume they they’ll use that influx of cash to build more stations and add more distribution vans and hopefully in a few months bikes won’t be so hard to come by. Put a station in at Metro Center already!!

  • JC

    This was the single, most disappointing and negative post I have ever seen by POP, saying CABI “sucks” out of all the aspects of life in Washington, DC. It has moved me to post for the first time, if also to cut down on how much I read the site. CABI is a valuable idea and resource that as with anything could stand improvement. POP could and should play a positive role in catalyzing advocacy around legitimate concerns to improve the system. I expect better from POP, and urge those concerned about CABI to work positively to make the system stronger at the public forum May 25th.

    • Anonymous

      heaven forbid PoP has an opinion you don’t agree with.

  • victoria

    Instead of hauling all the rush-hour bikes back uphill, why not just have the van pick people up and drive them to work?

    A 12 seat van could haul 36 people (3 runs) an hour. Can it transport 36 bikes from downtown every hour?

  • Anonymous

    I echo the above comments completely. Last night I couldn’t find a bike anywhere on the Hill to get back to U Street so I just took the metro. Once I was back on U Street I found TONS of bikes and ran an errand to Whole Foods. Of course, once I was done, there wasn’t a single place to park the bike at the three bike dock locations on U Street and I had to bring the bike all the way back to Whole Foods and just walk home.

    • Tres

      Exactly. Bikeshare was useless last night if your destination was anywhere on U Street. I had to go to Dupont to find a slot. Most people on this thread think it’s bad for people to think you should be able to commute using Bikeshare — but if you can’t use Bikeshare for commuting or one way trips to nightlife options, it sucks. What then is Bikeshare for?

      At the meeting later, we should absolutely tell the CaBi folks about the problems we’re having. They have lots of data on how people end up using the system — but almost none on how people would like to use the system.

  • TaphaNdiaye

    I think the big failure in this whole frenzy isn’t the system that’s too popular for its own good, but 1) People are complaining to the wrong people. Complain to the Mayor and Council that they need to expand this incredibly cheap way to get people around town. DDOT would love to expand the program and provide enough of everything. And 2) DC’s development patterns are too focused on office space downtown and residential everywhere else. What should happen is that office space be built at every metro station and more residential be built downtown so that the system can even itself out (at the least a bit better than no). But alas, that’s in the long term.

  • dude in yo face

    I rider the system pretty regularly (6-10 times a week) if I don’t feel like walking the 2-3 miles to work (or taking the metro when it’s raining), and I think that out of the ~80 times I’ve used it, I’ve had 0 bikes maybe 3 times and a full rack at most 4.

    So, I’m pretty happy with the system, but I realize my experiences are probably not the norm as I commute in a reverse direction from most people, and I work off hours, relatively speaking.

    I hope the system continues to expand – there really need to be bikes basically every two blocks (there are almost none directly west of the WH – why?); I know that if my work becomes more 9-5, I would likely have no shot at getting a bike.

    Cabi may have a large subscriber base now, but many people likely won’t renew out of frustration, so they need to show an honest effort to continue improving the system or start a quick decline…

    • Anonymous

      I’m with you! I am happy with CaBi too! I’m not even sure it needs to expand that much. Do you think if they expand then they may just get more riders and we will be back where started? Though I suppose the more cyclists, the better!

      I think DDOT’s plan has always been to supplement transit for short trips (in general, metro for longer distances, buses and streetcar for medium distances, bike share for short distances). I think the people who have the most problems are probably the folks who are relying on it for commuting. I guess it would be the same problem as relying on a Zipcar for a daily commute–there could not be any guarantee about availability. Still, I feel for those people, especially if it is the best way for them to get to work. I know buses can be very slow during rush hour.

      I like CaBi a lot though, and I think Alta is doing a good job, all things considered. I prefer to walk from Pleasant Plains to Georgetown every morning for work so I don’t get too sweaty, but I like taking CaBi all the way home because it’s faster than the buses. In that sense, it is nice to have bike share for one way trips, and like Zipcar, I like that the maintenance is handled by someone else!

      Places like 14th and U probably are empty or full a lot because they are used by a lot of commuters. The stations I use are near grocery stores or shopping areas, so there is a lot of turnover. If it is empty, a bike usually arrives within 5 minutes, and if it is full, someone usually comes out and opens a spot within 5 minutes. I never have had a problem, but I could see how it would be frustrating if you were trying to rely on it for commuting.

  • dynaryder

    Only thing I have to add to this discussion: folding bikes. No room in your apt? Fold it up and put it in the corner. No place safe to lock up? Take it with you(with a bag you can take it on Metro any time). Been drinking? Put it in the trunk of the taxi.

    • ok

      What’s the brand you use? I’ve honestly been looking for a folding bike but cannot decide on a model…

      • dynaryder

        Brompton. BicycleSPACE off Chinatown carries them. Expensive,and takes a little while if you order custom,but you get what you pay for. Rides great(can replace a full size bike),folds fast and easy,makes a compact package with all the greasy bits on the inside. Also have a Dahon,but the Brompton trumps it in every way.

  • Shawn

    I haven’t been using it as much lately, but wow, this is ridiculous.

    As of May 12, 8:35 AM there is ONE BIKE out of the EIGHT STATIONS closest to Columbia Heights/Petworth! That is just pathetic.

    • Dr Pangloss

      How so? However many empty rack spaces there are, that’s how many folks used bikeshare bikes to get to work this morning. That’s a good thing.

  • Bucket of Cold Water

    Hasn’t the system been open for 8 months? To expect perfection out of something totally new seems a little unrealistic no?

    There is a fantastic smartphone application that tells you when bikes/docks are available at a given station and the thing is incredibly close to real time. And out-of-service bikes don’t show up on it.

    There are bound to be kinks in any new system that need to be worked out and I’m guessing DDOT and CaBi expected to have slower growth in which to adjust. So I know that this is the internet and anything short of god-like perfection is an abomination but how about a little perspective.

  • Brooklander

    And let’s all remember that the Metro is PERFECT. Also the road system runs perfectly smooth. There is never gridlock, or delays, or detours, and I’ve never been disappointed, frustrated, or late because of an unforseen event on the bus, the metro, or in my car. Wait, what?

    CaBi is not perfect. There is room for improvement. It is also not, and never will be, all things to all people. Welcome to life. If it doesn’t work for your commute you can complain, you can try to improve it, you can complain and try to improve it, you can just accept it, or you can abandon it. Chose your ending!

    Personally, so far in my one month of daily commuting, it’s worked spectacularly. But I don’t live on U Street. I work near Eastern Market and only twice have I not gotten a bike on my way home, so I walked to 4th & East and got one. The other time I got the last one that was not locked-out, but gave it up to a first-time day membership user who was really confused why the bikes were rejecting her code. I wasn’t in a hurry, only had to walk to Lincoln Park where I know there will always be an evening commute bike, and well, it is BikeShare after all.

    So let’s all try to be nice and work well with each other, okay? Have a good day folks and be safe, however you CHOOSE to transport yourself.

  • Charles Ross

    I visited D.C. recently from Portland, Oregon, used the 24 hour membership in Cap Bikes and found it to be useful. I have two comments:
    In the Cap Bike system, the bikes migrate. During the workweek, mid-day, there is going to be a shortage of bikes in the outlying areas and a shortage of ports in the inner city. The answer to this is to ‘right-size’ demand with supply. (easy to suggest, difficult to analyze future demand).Total Short Term
    Gain/-LossIf I lived in D.C., I would have a secondary means of getting to work and play. The bike system would be the best option; faster than public transit and just about as fast as private transportation.
    It’s a decent system and deserves support.
    Re: why would someone use the system who already owns a bike? There is a major problem with bike commuting: what does one do with the bike when your destination is reached? I have a fairly expensive bike. When I pedal into downtown Portland, I lock my bike up in fairly high-profile areas and secure it with two locks (cable and u-lock). Even so, I am a bit surprised when I return and find my bike unmolested.
    Capbikeshare answers this problem. When your rental is locked into their system, your responsibility has ended.

  • Rob

    It’s still a very young system and undergoing some growing pains. Relax, give it time… even the first iPods sucked.

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