USA's biggest bike share program maps out the future

Capital Bikeshare averages 7,000 rides a day on 1,670 shared bikes

Just over two years after its creation, Capital Bikeshare has demonstrated that Americans will use shared bikes for transportation if it is convenient. With about 1,670 bikes and 175 bike stations located through the Washington, DC area, Capital Bikeshare is reporting that commuters are using the bikes for an average of 7,000 short trips a day.

As more cities around the country are implemented bikeshare programs, Capital Bikeshare is helping lead the way with best practices. BikeArlington is part of Capital Bikeshare, and the government group recently published a six-year plan for how bikesharing could become a legitimate mode of transportation, and receive funding as such.

Capital Bikeshare charges $7 for 24hr use of a 3-speed bike, or $75 for an annual membership.

"Bikesharing has a better chance of working in a densely populated area," said BikeArlington program manager Chris Eatough. " Bikes are a very efficient way to get around a city, especially for the 1- or 2-mile trips. You need to be in a city where there is already good infrastructure with bike lanes and bicycle friendly streets. Washington, DC and Arlington have been working on that for a few years."

This map shows all the Capital Bikeshare trips for Arlington stations in the fourth quarter of 2011

"And it's a lifestyle; a lot of people in the city don’t want to be tied down to a car, and instead use a combination of bus, train, bike, taxi, bikeshare and carshare to get around," Eatough said. "Very few people can use biking for all their trips."

Technology helps, too. With smart phones becoming ubiquitous, information on transportation is at many peoples' fingertips.  And yes, with bikeshare, there is an app for that. Spotcycle tells users where the nearest station is, and provides real-time information on bike availability.

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