It’s time to celebrate the one week anniversary of Capital Bikeshare system. To much fanfare, the largest regional bikesharing system in the North America launched with over 40 stations and 400 bicycles. The current online station count is over 60 as of September 27th. I’ve seen more CaBi’s on the road in the past week than I’ve seen SmartBikes in the past 6-12 months. As with any new system, there have been some minor hiccups but generally it has been a very successful start!
Now that we are home to the largest regional bikesharing system, it seems appropriate to share a few tips as we all familiarize ourselves with CaBi. The following tips are not in order of importance and it is by no means a complete list. They are just a few helpful thoughts about CaBi.
- Purchase the annual membership: Capital Bikeshare is still offering the promotional rate of $50 for an annual membership and it’s a real steal. Founding members receive a limited addition key fob and a American Appeal CaBi t-shirt. At just over $4 per month, its less than the cost of two trips on the metro!
- Stay up-to-date: The Capital Bikeshare website displays in realtime (updated every 5 minutes or so) the number of bikes and available docking spots at all in-service stations. Check the station your starting from and the station you’ll be ending your trip at. Nothing is worse than riding up to a full station of bikes or coming out of the grocery store to an empty station. The kiosks will inform you of nearby stations with available bikes & docks. The free app Spotcycle can be downloaded to your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android-based cellphone. Spotcycle provides users with a map of stations and bike information.
- Time yourself: Included with your daily, monthly or annual membership are unlimited free 30 minute rides. After the initial half-hour, the fee meter starts running. Minutes 31 – 60 will only set you back $1.50 but rates start climbing significantly after that. Save yourself some money and set a countdown timer on your watch or phone. Start the clock at 25 minutes which gives you a few minutes of buffer on the end to find the station you’re traveling to and dock the bike.
- Educate yourself: This is a great chance to review rules of the road, bike laws and the safest way to ride a bicycle in traffic. We offer a wide range of safety education classes for beginning riders all the way up to advanced riders. And if you’ve been riding for year, it never hurts to brush up as you’ll be a role model to new riders on the road.
- Remember your helmet: For commuters using the system on a regular basis, getting in the habit of carrying around a helmet will be the norm. A quick glance around the grocery store or local eatery, you’ll see someone toting around a bike helmet. What’s tricky are the unplanned trips on a CaBi. An unplanned afternoon ride home after a long stressful work day or a quick trip to a meeting across town.
Incorporating bikesharing into your daily routine will take some planning at the outset. However, you’ll quickly begin to see stations close to you places you go and the time savings in travel time especially for you short trips. Please share your own personal tips for using the system and, as always, enjoy the ride!
"getting in the habit of carrying around a helmet will be the norm." Actually, I'm hoping for quite the opposite result--that people will educate themselves and conclude that a helmet isn't worth the bother. I truly wish WABA would stick to the facts: 1) bicycling is safe and fun and 2) studies show that time spent on a bicycle _lengthens_ one's life expectancy. Please leave the fear-mongering to those who benefit from it.
Even though I already own a bike that I commute on regularly, I am really impressed by the bikeshare system and plan to use it for precisely those jaunts out where I don't want to fuss with locking up my bike (home to chinatown, for example). It really feels like a super futuristic way to ride a bike, with the automatic flashing lights and the key fob and everything. Super cool.
Re: point 5. remember your helmet commuters. I plan to use CaBi as backup for when Metro craps out at Foggy Bottom, I plan to buy a second helmet I will keep in my locker at work.