Twelve Years of Capital Bikeshare Fun

me and Cabi on H St

Now celebrating its 12th anniversary, Capital Bikeshare is the most inexpensive and reliable transportation system in Washington, DC.

Imagine paying a flat fee of $95 to go wherever you want in Washington, DC, and its suburbs. No more worrying about parking tickets, searching for Ubers or consulting Metro schedules.

Instead, you just go on a transportation system that’s available 24/7, in all weather, and you never have to worry about traffic jams.

Did I also mention it will keep you in shape? Your annual membership entitles you to spinning classes that feature challenging (real) hills and the thrill of being part of a rolling community.

It’s Capital Bikeshare, the cheapest and most reliable way of getting around Washington, DC. While the Metro may be on fire, and the roads jammed because it’s a Monday, Capital Bikeshare rolls on.

CaBi rainbow

An idea so brilliant that you think some tech tyrant like Elon Musk would’ve come up with it. Nope. He’s too busy boring tunnels through bedrock to shave a couple seconds off car trips.

Instead, bike sharing began with communal experiments in the 1960s and since then has been adopted by cities worldwide.

Washington, DC, has enjoyed Capitol Bikeshare (CaBi) for twelve years now.

It allows me to live downtown without a car. Surrounded by Cabi stations, I use the system constantly. It’s the easiest way to get around DC and it allows you to make more trips to do more things than you ever could do with a car.

Here’s how I’ve used Capital Bikeshare :

Multimodal Commuting: For years, I took the Metro to Silver Spring. But the first part of my trip was a half-mile ride on bikeshare to the U Street Metro. Twice a day, I would be on a CaBi.

Commuting Bail-Out: During my commutes, when the Metro¬†would break-down, I’d bail out, exit the station and get on a CaBi to continue my journey home.

Recreation: With a bike always available on the corner, I’ll take CaBi down to the National Mall to see the sunrise or just to ride around the neighborhood.

Coffeeneuring: Bikes and coffee is a lifestyle and there’s a biking challenge that celebrates this: Coffeeneuring. It’s an annual, international affair where riders are challenged to ride to seven coffee shops over seven weeks.

Bike to Bar: Sometimes I’ll bike to a bar and then walk or Uber home. No worries about a DUI that way.

Bad Weather: While I do love CaBi, I have real bikes, too! But if the weather is rainy or nasty (like when the city coats the streets in salt before snowstorm), then I’ll let CaBi get dirty instead of my real bike.

Night: I also prefer to use CaBi at night because they’re so big and bright, even the highest driver can see them.

Safety: Drivers seem to notice me more when I’m on a Cabi and treat me better. I’m not a “cyclist”; I’m a person on a bike when I use a CaBi.

Theft Avoidance: I kept my bike once locked up overnight outside Union Station and someone slashed the tire trying to steal it. Now I take CaBi to the train station.

Airport: Biking to DCA is a dream! You make a left off the Mount Vernon Trail, go through a tunnel, and you’re at the airport, with a convenient CaBi station right there. And the ride home at night past the monuments is breathtakingly beautiful.

Rewards: The short-lived Bikeshare Angels program was perhaps a little too good, allowing riders to rack up too many rewards. The new rewards program is not as generous but you still get rewards like e-bike credits for taking bikes to places where they are needed.

CaBi at DCA

These are just a few of the ways that I’ve used Capital Bikeshare. I genuinely like the bikes. Their wide tires and heavy frames seem ideal for the potholed streets of DC.

One downside of CaBi is availability. I’m fortunate to live in the flat part of the city. Those uphill see their bikes disappear downhill and then they don’t always come back. Capital Bikeshare trucks bikes back uphill to meet the demand but it’s a constant struggle.

Despite this, given the crowded roads and Metro mishaps, Capital Bikeshare is still the most reliable transportation system in the city and one that deserves increased investment from city leaders.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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