Launched as a pilot program in August 2008, Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare has been so successful that riders are often left wondering where the bikes are. The program currently has 1,100 bikes at 114 solar-powered stations around the city. Capital Bikeshare has signed on 15,000 yearly members, clocked an amazing 800,000 rides since September (in a city of just 600,000 people), and has saved about 9 million kilograms of carbon emissions. With riders around the city finding many an empty bike rack with no two wheelers to take for a spin, or frequently arriving at their destination to a full rack with no place to drop off their rented ride, DC’s planned expansion this fall is a much anticipated and welcome event.

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The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has announced 32 new Capital Bikeshare stations to be installed this fall that will come complete with 265 new bikes. Before deciding on locations for the stations the DDOT took public comment at a number of public hearings and have situated the new stations in accordance with public demand. Along with the new stations, some current stations getting a lot of traffic are about to get a whole lot bigger. In addition to expanding the bikeshare, Washington DC has decided to give out 500 free helmets to its most frequent riders.

Capital Bikeshare is pretty simple. A rider signs up for a membership — $5 for one day, $15 for 5 days, $25 for 30 days or $75 for a year — and with that membership the first 30 minutes of all of your rides are free. Beyond that first half hour, a credit card is charged $1.50 for an extra half hour, $4.50 for an extra hour and so on up the scale. The system was designed and priced to promote commuting by bike and makes joyrides around the city prohibitively expensive through this system — to rent a bike for a whole day would cost you an extra $70.50 on top of your membership. The city wants commuters to get to work, to the grocery store and to sights around town on these bikes and to turn them over quickly to their fellow riders. Capital Bikeshare also has racks of bicycles in Arlington, VA where the department of transportation is planning further expansion to other suburbs.

With the overwhelming success and imminent expansion of this amazing program, we’re hoping that other cities around the US will look to Washington DC with envy and start bikeshares of their own. Boston’s BIXI bikeshare started this summer and we’re wishing them the same success that DC has enjoyed.

+ Capital Bike Share

+ A List of the New Stations.

Via Washington Times

All photos by Kevin Kovaleski for DDOT