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Posted at 9:43 AM ET, 12/15/2010

Which rider will win winter?

By Luke Rosiak

A Capital Bikeshare member with nerves of steel or a fluffy coat will win a three-year membership to the bikesharing program, simply for getting the most use out of the $70-year, flat-rate program--during two of the coldest months of the year.

"The Capital Bikeshare annual or monthly member with the most trips taken from January 1- February 28 will be awarded the title of Winter Weather Warrior, a three-year extension of their membership, two annual memberships for friends, a $100 Hudson Trail gift card and a $25 Starbucks gift card," the program announced today.

We reported that peak ridership yesterday morning was 72 riders, which was nearly double October 13th's high, showing a fast-growing system despite the impracticalities of cycling during winter.

Still, that was less than one out of ten bikes checked out at any given time, and today, the high was only 42.

There will be other giveaways to maintain interest in the program during the winter and to try to keep at least some bikes in use. But "to participate in the Winter Weather Warrior contests and random drawings, you must opt in" at DCgo's contest page.

By Luke Rosiak  | December 15, 2010; 9:43 AM ET
Categories:  District  | Tags:  Capital Bikeshare  
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What percentage of all automobiles are on the roads at any one moment?

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | December 15, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, but downtown streets (according to DDOTS traffic volume maps) get anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 cars per day, and per day thats approximately an 18 hour window when most people are up). Basically, one lane of PA Avenue or Constitution Ave gets more cars using it in one hour per day, then the toal number of users of the entire bike share, spread across the District and Arlington get in a full day.

And finally, you kinda missed the point.

Bicyling isn't a true form of commuting in the way that driving or mass transit is, if its ridership falls off by 50% on days weather isn't perfect. Does the volume of cars on DC street fall off by 50% when it is cold? No.

Posted by: Nosh1 | December 15, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Nosh1, yes, lots of people drive cars, but I don't raise the point to get into that. The question of ridership at a given moment gets to efficient use of capital expenditure. Capital Bikeshare has 5-10% of assets in use at current peak. But the billions of dollars spent by regional residents on motor vehicles also sits idle. You can distinguish private v public investment in those capital costs, but in the aggregate, it's all variable costs to the regional economy, and it's all coming out of our pockets via taxes or depreciation. And I would wager that idle time of motor vehicles exceeds that of the Capital Bikeshare fleet, and that's a drag on economic efficiency. My family car is in use approximately 2% of the week -- not a terribly efficient use of resources. Plus the fixed cost of insurance. Multiply that times the millions of carowners in the region, and that's a LOT of fixed cost down the tubes, sitting in driveways.

Is bicycling like 'commuting'? For most people, no. Highly seasonal, bound by distance, limited population. But I think you make the fallacy of equating trips with the work commute (which is only one in five trips for the avg person). Bicycling can fill a void in the transportation system, offering a point-to-point quicker alternative for intraday trips under, say, three miles than Metro, and do so at a substantial savings to boot. It may not be for you, but for those who do use it, it's an economically rational way to get around, it generates trips (I went to a store outside of walking distance from my office today, and made a purchase that would not have been made without availability of the system), and then there are the benefits that accrue to you from diversion from other modes.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | December 15, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse


ddot has done all the studies involved. I suggest you review them.

At last count( 2008 I believe) a whopping 2% of all trips (not just commuting) were taken by bike in the District. This as we know is on nice days when weather permits. On days it doesn't it falls by literally 50%. Cycling is not mass transportation.

I understand people cycle rather than use metro or drive and thats all well and good but your "fixed cost" of an idle car is yours alone (you bought it, you pay to insure and maintain it etc), not the taxpayers by having bought a thousand bikes that just sit there 90-95% of the time. Your fixed costs ar eyour own choice. You could have bought a million dollar sportcar or a 500 dollar beater, regardless the taxpayer didn't buy your car for you so I don't care how often you use it.

I don't know how many vehicles (buses, trucks, cars) are on District streets at this very second. I'd venture a guess of 8,000-10,000

Posted by: Nosh1 | December 15, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

nosh1, i'm very well acquainted with all of statistics on modeshare. I know which ones measure work-only trips, which ones measure all trips, which ones account for trip-chaining... They all say the same thing -- not many people ride a bicycle for transportation. You say it's not "mass transportation". I don't know precisely what you mean by that, but if it's that the majority of people will not use a bicycle for transportation, then I agree 100%. Though studies have shown that if you cut peak-hour auto travel by a mere 5%, travel times plummet, so there's certainly a shared reward if we can affect travel behavior in an appreciable way.

However, ignoring the personal costs of transportation, and not applying the same standard of idle time that you do to the bikeshare program is shortsighted. Where the point-to-point transportation system only accomodates a mode that requires its citizens pay personal fixed costs (which are enormous for even that $500 beater) puts an enormous economic drag on its local economy as a whole. That's why we have transit systems -- so that people can move around without having to take on the second largest purchase out there just to get to work. Capital Bikeshare is showing the potential to be the most cost effective, and for some trips, most time efficient form of transit available.

Regarding the taxpayer expenses, see the previous CaBi thread on transit and road subsidies. Anybody who wants 100% of transportation money to go to automobiles should call their congressperson and ask that gas taxes be tripled, so that the income taxes of all don't have to subsidize the travel preferences of some. I don't like paying income taxes to support the payback of our inefficient use of our gas-guzzling rapidly depreciated capital assets.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | December 15, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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