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One Year In, Capital Bikeshare Shatters Expectations

11:52 AM EDT on September 21, 2011

America’s largest public bike sharing system turns one this week, and by all accounts, it’s been a spectacular start.

Happy birthday, Capital Bikeshare. It's been quite a year. Photo: BeyondDC

In the 12 months since its debut, Capital Bikeshare has become a fixture of life in the greater capital area. Now, just in time for its one-year anniversary, a significant expansion is in the works.

Network blog Beyond DC pauses for a moment to ponder Capital Bikeshare’s fantastic start, the kinks that need to be worked out, and the system’s prospects for the future:

So how did the first year go? Pretty darn well. The system has over 18,000 registered members, which puts its members-per-bikes ratio in very elite company globally. It has logged over a million trips, which is double the estimate for its first year. The bikes are ubiquitous in the central city, and are well on their way to icon status. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the anticipated problem of station sparsity has indeed been an issue. Dock blocking is common enough that the term has entered the lexicon of Washingtonians. The most successful bikesharing systems offer stations closely packed enough so that dock blocking isn’t a big concern. So in a very real way, Capital Bikeshare’s biggest problem is that too many people are using it. It’s a good problem to have.

And so, with a successful first year under its belt, Cabi is looking to expand. Four expansions are currently funded and anticipated to come online within the next year. Together they will enlarge the system from its current level of 116 stations located in two jurisdictions, up to around 200 stations in four jurisdictions. And no one expects expansion to stop there. All the existing member jurisdictions are considering even more stations, and other jurisdictions may still join the network.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Transport Politic follows yesterday’s conversation about profitability at transit agencies by discussing the proper aims of government subsidies. And Transit Miami is the outraged witness to another driver-on-pedestrian collision on the city’s dangerous Brickell Avenue.

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