Capital Bikeshare trips slide as rides on DC’s dockless scooters, bikes grow

Red bicycles from Capital Bikeshare are seen docked in downtown Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Thousands of people appear to be using shared dockless scooters or bikes in place of Capital Bikeshare, posing a challenge to the publicly-owned system that remains popular with regular users.

Average monthly Capital Bikeshare trips by people who are not annual members dropped from 80,000 trips to about 40,000 trips per month in the District last year, the same amount the overall number of Bikeshare trips declined.

“DDOT remains committed to Capital Bikeshare which retains its core of annual members despite the proliferation and popularity of dockless bike and scooter options,” DDOT said.

While annual members’ trips remained steady at around 230,000 trips per month, the drop in casual users has meant a significant decline in the system’s revenue of about 10% year-over-year, according to documents submitted to the D.C. Council by the District Department of Transportation.

“Ever since dockless bicycles and scooters came to D.C., Capital Bikeshare ridership has suffered,” the documents said.

There are nearly 30,000 annual Capital Bikeshare members, including more than 19,000 in the District.

Capital Bikeshare trips in the city grew 15.6% in the 2017 budget year. However, trips declined 1.7% the following year and another 4.4% in the year that ended Sept. 30.

The dockless scooters and bikes are also competing with Uber and Lyft, DDOT said.

Still, DDOT believes dockless options are also complementing Capital Bikeshare.

“There are more dockless vehicles available in the District than Capital Bikeshare bikes, especially in tourist-heavy areas like the National Mall where, although most dockless operators have no-parking zones, dockless vehicles are not constrained by docking station space in the same way that Capital Bikeshare is constrained,” DDOT wrote.

Dockless options were also temporarily cheaper in some cases, as companies tried to lure riders.

“Capital Bikeshare expects to reverse these trends by reintroducing e-bikes in 2020,” DDOT said.

The new e-bikes are expected to be both compatible with existing docks and able to be left anywhere — dockless — for an additional $1 fee.

New marketing efforts have also drawn new Capital Bikeshare members, and additional docking stations are being added in areas where there are limited or no docks today.

The efforts come as the number of dockless scooters and bikes is scheduled to explode across the city.

There were about 1,000 JUMP electric bikes and up to 5,235 scooters from various companies permitted at the end of 2019.

Starting in April, DDOT expects to allow 10,000 dockless electric scooters. The city is also allowing 5,000 dockless shared electric bikes on the streets this year. If the vehicles are used and the companies meet other requirements, even more of the bikes and scooters could be added in the middle of the year.

Scooters continue to face a 10 mph speed limit in D.C.

DDOT also hopes to launch a public bike-share option this spring for people with disabilities or other needs not met by existing options.

“Hand tricycles, recumbent tricycles, cargo-bikes, and tandems will be offered for people in several locations in the District,” DDOT said.

Capital Bikeshare plans to add 20 more stations over the next nine months at:

  • Hardy Recreation Center
  • Reservoir Road and 38th Street Northwest / Georgetown University Hospital
  • Rose Park
  • R.I.S.E. Center
  • Minnesota Avenue and R Street Southeast
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • Grant Circle
  • 4th Street and G Street Southwest
  • 4th Street and P Street Southwest / Titanic Memorial
  • Stadium Armory Metro South Entrance
  • Benning Park Community Center
  • Alabama Avenue and Irving Street Southeast / MPD 7th District
  • 8th Street & H Street Northeast
  • 1st Street and Potomac Avenue Southeast
  • Entertainment & Sports Arena
  • East Capitol Street and 55th Street Southeast
  • 4th Street and Morse Street Northeast
  • Lafayette Elementary School
  • Palisades Recreation Center
  • 1st Street and K Street Northeast

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