Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Which bikeshare system has the most members? Ours!

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report with a lot of interesting information on the country's bike sharing networks, including previously-unavailable statistics on the numbers of annual members.

CitySystemStationsBikesAnnual
members
Casual
members
Washington/ArlingtonCapital Bikeshare1401,20019,200105,644
BostonHubway606003,60030,000
MinneapolisNice Ride1451,3003,52137,103
DenverB-Cycle525202,65940,600
Miami BeachDeco Bike918002,500338,828
BoulderB-Cycle151101,1716,200
San AntonioB-Cycle232001,0002,800
SpartanburgB-Cycle214127828
UC-IrvineZotwheels428100-

Bike sharing is expanding so quickly in this country that some of the report's information is already out of date. For example, their information for Capital Bikeshare is from February, before dozens of new stations were added. Also, the report oddly leaves out a few cities with sizable networks, such as Madison.

Nevertheless, it's interesting information. Capital Bikeshare is really blowing away the other cities by this metric, although it's not exactly a fair comparison for the systems that haven't had as long to mature, or that close during winter.

Notice that when the information was gathered for this report, Capital Bikeshare had temporarily slipped to second place according to the number of bikes available. Presumably it's back in first by now with this year's expansions on the streets, although when New York launches this coming spring, we can expect to drop from the top permanently.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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actualy, I thought it was intereting what a failure the boston system has been, and that the miami beach system -- which I thought was a joke -- is getting a lot of tourist use.

by charlie on Sep 6, 2012 11:27 am • linkreport

That Miami Beach stat is stunning. Every tourist-town mayor, especially in the sun belt, should be asking whether their town could pull off the same trick. I think bike-share could be especially revolutionary for places like the Outer Banks, where traffic can get so choked that it hinders commerce in peak season.

by Tom Veil on Sep 6, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

Notice how even though Miami is #3 in terms of stations and bikes, it has more casual riders than all other riders of all other systems in the list combined.

by Xavier on Sep 6, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

Interesting.

The data is obviously not evenly accurate - some systems offer precise numbers for members (3,521 in Minneapolis) while others offer rounded figures.

That said, interesting metrics to me are more than the count.

Look at annual members per station: Assume that annual members are residents and casual members are tourists/visitors/first timers. CaBi has ~137 annual members per station, higher than all the rest. Boulder is next at ~78 annuals per station. Perhaps this reflects the size of the network, perhaps the density surrounding the stations...

Looking at casual members per station is also interesting, as it might be a measure of tourism. CaBi has about 750 casual members per station. DecoBike has a whopping ~3700 casual members per station (compared to only 27 annuals/station). Again, this could truly show the difference in the user base, or it could just be indicative of the scope of the system (e.g. if CaBi were just on the mall, what would that ratio look like?)

Finally, I think it's interesting to look at the percent of annual members compared to total members (annual+casual). For CaBi, that's ~15%. For DecoBike, it's 1%. Better yet would be to try and weight this data by usage, but that's a lot more data crunching...

by Alex B. on Sep 6, 2012 11:36 am • linkreport

Deco Bike doesn't really do 'annual' memberships. It's a $15/$25 rolling monthly membership. This brings the annual cost of Deco Bike membership to $180/$300. Compare that to $37.50 - $75 for annual membership of Capital Bikeshare, and you can see why the two systems have different ratios of annual vs casual users.

P.S. Is anyone else getting asked to submit Recaptcha words in non-latin alphabets?

by reneade09 on Sep 6, 2012 11:46 am • linkreport

@charlie, how is the Boston system a failure? Checking the FHA report, Boston Hubway started on July 28, 2011, the system shut down from December to March, and the FHA stats are from March, 2012. The FHA report is taking a snapshot of a Boston bikeshare system that just barely gotten started. What are the numbers for Boston, now that they had a full summer of operation?

by AlanF on Sep 6, 2012 11:47 am • linkreport

DecoBike is kind of a different animal; it is much more recreation-oriented than the other systems in that casual users purchase a pass that lets them take a bike for hours at a time. Also I'm not sure how they are counting "annual" members since they don't even sell an annual membership, only monthly passes. Maybe they are just counting their monthly subscription numbers (you have to keep the membership for 3 months or face a fee) as annual memberships.

Seems to me that membership numbers are important for how much of operating you will recover, but if we really want to judge the success of these systems we need to look at the number of trips taken in relation to the size of the system.

by MLD on Sep 6, 2012 11:52 am • linkreport

@alexB; I think the Miami system is privately owned.

But between that and the DC system, I'd say places that get a lot of tourists -- and the Outer Banks is a great example -- have a large built in market for bikesharing.

Benefits for residents and members is just gravy.

by charlie on Sep 6, 2012 11:55 am • linkreport

This data explains why DC bikeshare has such a problem with dock-blocking and no-bikes at stations. DC has a lot more users per available bike than any other system. Rather than risk damaging the Cabi brand with poor service levels, Cabi should cap the number of members (and create a waitlist) until more bikes can be added.

That Miami Beach stat is stunning.

What's more stunning is how successful it is in spite of rusted, crappy bikes and very high daily use charges (and no annual memberships). It seems like the system is designed to gouge tourists or other pleasure riders rather than serve as a real transportation alternative for residents.

by Falls Church on Sep 6, 2012 11:59 am • linkreport

This data confirms once more that CaBi is an enormous success.

It shows that Washingtonians, given the option, will bike.

by Jasper on Sep 6, 2012 12:15 pm • linkreport

I'm not that surprised by DecoBike's success. I used it in July when I was in Miami Beach, and found it to be a convenient and relatively cheap way to get around South Beach. A large number of tourists in Miami Beach are European, which probably also helps explain its popularity.

by Rebecca on Sep 6, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

Miami's DecoBike stats are incredible, wow! Their ridership is double everyone else's combined. They have plans to expand DecoBike into Downtown Miami and the many nearby dense, urban neighborhoods around Downtown. I anticipate that that expansion alone could potentially double DecoBike's ridership. I wonder how Miami's ridership will compare to New York's once they have their system in place as well.

by Kevin on Sep 6, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

It looks to me that all of the bike share solutions; are a success, as they increases the mobility of the population around the public bike share system in the city that they are in.
There of course no question that there are more users in the DecoBike's Public Bike Share system than all of the other public bike share systems combind in the United States - Why?

1. DecoBike is just simply the best operator.
2. Miami Beach is simply the best location (so far) for a public Bike Share system.
3. The SandVault system is just plain simple to use.

It is nice to see that the facts have finally arrived about Public Bike Share in the United States!

Great job!!

by Derrick on Sep 6, 2012 3:14 pm • linkreport

Come on Derrick, if you're going to pimp your company it at least would be of some benefit if you announced who you were.

How many trips does DecoBike have right now? CaBi hit a million in 12 months (Deco took 14) and hit two million after 8 more months. So I'd say we're doing pretty well here in DC.

by MLD on Sep 6, 2012 3:32 pm • linkreport

Miami's DecoBike stats are incredible, wow! Their ridership is double everyone else's combined.

Um, these stats show members, not ridership.

by Alex B. on Sep 6, 2012 3:48 pm • linkreport

I've used DecoBike and it's a far cry from CaBi in terms of usability and pricing, especially for the casual user. Someone should double-check the number of casual members reported. I wouldn't be surprised if it were either inaccurate or not comparing apples to apples.

by Dno on Sep 6, 2012 4:17 pm • linkreport

MLD - You make a good point, I wasnt trying to take away from Washington or the public bike share system they have choosen.

The real question is what makes a public Bike Share system successful?

Memberships are a factor, and DecoBike has done a great job marketing and operating (point number 1), but like MLD states ridership is also a factor, If I am not mistaken Miami Beach maybe a very close second to Washington on ridership but that wont last due to the seasonal weather conditions of each city.
(Point number 2).

There are pros and cons to all public bike share systems. I personally think the DecoBike system in Miami Beach is the simplest, but this is a personal opinion, (point number 3).

Another point to be made is the cost for the system to the taxpayers.

By the way I work with SandVault, and have a blog: publicbikeshare.com, but a better place for information is the blog by Paul DiMiao and Russell Maddin http://bike-sharing.blogspot.ca/

by Derrick on Sep 6, 2012 5:52 pm • linkreport

Capital Bikeshare holds $101 for up to 10 days if your a casual user which i learned over the labor day weekend

by Jerome on Sep 6, 2012 7:29 pm • linkreport

All of this is great data and the tone should be positive in our conversations. At the end of the day, people are giving up cars for bikes-- that-- and all the benefits that go along with it, have changed behavior of the masses for the better- that's what it's all about.

Some interesting facts:

DecoBike and CaBi are the only US bikehshares to exceed 1mil trips. To contrast, in April 2012, Bcycle (acording to one of their own press releases) stated that the ridership of all of their programs combined was under 500k which is ironic since Denver was open the for the longest period of time versus any other program.

DecoBike Miami Beach features 14 stations per square mile on average, while CaBi is less than 4 per square mile. Deco also has the highest usage per-bike, per-day on average, with the entire fleet going out about 5 times per day average (not just peak usage).

DecoBike features about 1 bike per 88 residents. CaBi is 1 bike per 1,000 residents. The population of Wash DC is 6 times greater than that of Miami Beach, so you should (in theory) have at least 6 times the number of members and ridership in DC than Miami Beach, but that is definitely not the case. CaBi also runs more bikes and stations for a longer period of time, which of course skews the stats higher.

Deco did not use government funding/tax payer dollars while CaBi used millions of govt funding, hence there is difference in pricing for the end user.

BOTH are amazing programs in their own right. Both are pioneers and risk takers for which efforts have paid off. Hats off to both.

by FactChecker2012 on Sep 7, 2012 12:30 pm • linkreport

@reneade09: I once got a Sanskrit Recaptcha!

by aces on Sep 7, 2012 9:41 pm • linkreport

DecoBike has an advantage over most of the systems because of the weather conditions in South Florida, although hot summers may depress ridership some, but certainly people can ride all year. But I would think that because of the pricing system, most of the users are casual as opposed to members like Cabi. I haven't used the system so I can't really comment on it.

OTOH, the pricing system they use is what you need to make such a system work economically, but as you see, it reduces regular membership significantly. OTOH/2, you could argue that you want a lower membership price, like Cabi, to encourage transportational use.

OTOH/3, yes you get the "blocking" issue if you don't provide enough bikes/stations.

OTOH/4, I haven't read the report (yet) so I don't know if they included a few nonUS case studies, which would have made it significantly more useful. E.g., the Montreal system has 2x the membership of Cabi and 3x+ the number of stations and 2x+ the number of bikes.

The basic problem with Cabi is that it doesn't follow the "industry recommended metric" based on Paris of about 29 stations/square mile in the primary service area.

One of the problems with these types of reports is that people try to define every project as successful, which makes it very hard to learn and grow and improve.

by Richard Layman on Sep 9, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

The basic problem with Cabi is that it doesn't follow the "industry recommended metric" ...

That's only a problem if the "industry recommended metric" is valid. And if it's applicable to DC/Arlington. Who is the recommending authority on this anyway.

It's more accurate to say that this is what Paris does. Not that it is therefore right for DC.

by David C on Sep 9, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

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