The Van Ness bike station is a little over a year old. It has seen increased usage since its opening in June 2011. Being towards the “top” of the hill to downtown, the station sees more departures than arrivals. In June 2011, there were approximately 660 departures and 460 arrivals from this station. This past June, there were over 750 departures and 500 arrivals. The station saw less usage over the colder winter months, dipping down to a low of 350 departures and 300 arrivals during the month of January. Data show that the busiest stations include DuPont Circle, Federal Triangle, Georgetown, and Eastern Market.CaBi is well-suited to the demographic of the Forest Hills neighborhood. A study of 340 random riders across the city revealed that the average casual user is a well-educated, Caucasian female between the ages of 25-34, a frequent cyclist, a domestic tourist, and enjoys group activities. Lauren Piera of Connecticut Avenue is just this user. A federal employee commuting to Rosslyn, CaBi changed her daily routine in a drastic way.
“Not only was it easier, I felt better for my entire day,” Piera says. “The system just works out so well, and you can tell they take pride in what they do.”
Piera commutes in rush hour traffic using major city thoroughfares, including Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues.
To say that CaBi has been a valuable addition to the Forest Hills neighborhood is an understatement. In addition to the numerous health benefits associated with biking, CaBi has proven to more than pay for itself when compared to WMATA fares. With a $75 annual membership, the first 30 minutes of a ride are free (riding from Connecticut Ave NW & Van Ness Street NW to 18th and K takes 21 minutes). After 30 minutes, riders are charged $1.50/hour.
Piera’s membership paid for itself in only 4 months. “Whenever I would ride, I would calculate the fare that I would have paid on Metro or Metrobus for the same trip,” Piera says. “When considering the transfer costs and rush hour hikes, it wasn’t even close.”
Though the CaBi has identified qualities of the casual user, the DC cyclist is anything but casual. CaBi riders of all ages have been spotted, some as old as 70 or as young as 5, commuting to school with a parent. Tourists can purchase day passes for CaBi.
“My friends came to visit, and asked how they should get around. Metro can be great, but on the weekends, the track work makes it unreliable,” Piera says. She knew to tell her friends that CaBi was the way to go. “You get to see everything you want to on your schedule without the cost of a cab. The docking stations are everywhere, and as you approach your 30 minute time limit you can just re-dock and check your bike out again.”
Though departures, arrivals, and redistribution of bikes have been one of the growing pains of the CaBi system, Piera hasn’t had much trouble in the Forest Hills/Northwest neighborhoods. “In the 7 months that I have used the system, I’ve only had trouble 2 or 3 times with finding an open docking station. Even then, I just rode a few blocks down the road to another station.”
Smart phone apps and websites give precise, up-to-the-minute data on which stations have bikes or have open docks. Bikes are maintained by a fleet of technicians and any trouble that a user experiences can be reported through an app or website link and the bike in question is flagged and taken out of the fleet.
More bikes mean a healthier community, but CaBi reminds cyclists that safety, not convenience, needs to be a top priority. All CaBi bikes are equipped with front and rear flashing LED lights, tire reflectors, adjustable seats, among other features. Cyclists are reminded that in addition to following all signs and
– Obey all regulatory signs and traffic lights
– Ride in bike lanes, when available
– Never ride against traffic
– Use hand signals
– Ride in a straight line
– Be alert and not distracted
– Always wear a helmet