Greater Greater Washington

Map shows most popular Capital Bikeshare trips

Arlington's CommuterPageBlog has an awesome map showing Capital Bikeshare usage. The darker the line, the more trips are made between the two stations that line connects.

The densest concentration of users appears to form a triangle with points at Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, and the Reeves Center at U Street. It will be interesting to see how this changes over time as service is expanded to more neighborhoods.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for Arlington County, but his blog posts represent only his own personal views. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives car-free in Washington. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post

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Maybe my bearings are off but this map doesn't seem to have all the stations in the JudiciarySq/MVTriangle/Union Station area. Was it intended to have all the stations or just ones that had the common trips?

by Paul on Jan 25, 2011 8:04 am • linkreport

This is great. I wonder if they could scale the size of the station markers to indicate the relative number of total trips from each station. That would provide another layer of useful information in addition to most frequently used individual trips.

by Mark Jordan on Jan 25, 2011 8:40 am • linkreport

This data, along with individual station stats and all the anecdotal evidence is just further proof that the stations east of the river aren't being utilized and need to be relocated elsewhere in the District or in Arlington. Days and days go by without one of those stations being used. No point having an expensive system there if it is just going to rust.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 8:57 am • linkreport

@freely it may be a critical mass problem. If you put *more* stations then the existing ones will be used more. Currently the siting of stations may not be optimized for trips people want to take in that area. I don't know the physical or economic geography of that area very well

Take Ward 5. There is a cluster of bikestations near the Brookland Metro but nowhere to ride to except back south and west out of the neighborhood. There is no docking station at the recreation centers (Turkey Thicket and Taft), or Providence Hospital, or the northern end of Catholic University. It's like having a nice shiny rail station and the train doesn't go anywhere.

by Steven Glazerman on Jan 25, 2011 9:17 am • linkreport

I hope they expand the system more in near north east. Looks like the border stations get plenty of usage.

by WDC on Jan 25, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

It would seem like greater expansion around college campuses and their surrounding areas would be a no-brainer for more CaBi stations?

And including CaBi stations within PUD applications should also help a bit, particularly as the SW Waterfront area, NoMa, etc develop more.

Politically, it seems a non-starter that the CaBi program won't continue East of the River. Yeah it may get little use, but there's no way those stations will be relocated. Now, whether there'll be much more of an expansion is another question. It'll be interesting to see whether the Homeland Security fortress will have any impact on CaBi usage.

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 9:31 am • linkreport

Well, not to offend but its pretty clear that SE DC is an economic, demographic and crime filled wasteland. So not only are their few people right now wanting or using these facilities, with no real improvements in the forseeable decade.

You can also tell by where the trips from those stations are going. They aren't trips between SE stations, they are trips from SE into DC and vice versa.

Like I said, there are many other places where those nine stations could be better used. In 10 years, SE might need them back, which would be fine. Until then they are just rusting away.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 9:32 am • linkreport

freely: What an unfair generalization about a large area with many different neighborhoods. Also, what you are probably referring to isn't the same as "SE DC." The southeast quadrant includes places like Eastern Market, and the map shows a very high concentration of CaBi usage in that vicinity.

by David Alpert on Jan 25, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

Good find, Dan, and good work Arlington CPB! I agree with Fritz about expanding around universities -- my guess is that you'd see almost 100% rush-hour utilization during summer internship season, and healthy off-peak utilization the rest of the year. As far as East of the River goes, my guess is that the areas closest to the river are viable; they're pretty dense, and have shorter bike rides to the city. Also, from this map, it looks like that 15th Street bike lane is getting heavy use.

by tom veil on Jan 25, 2011 9:55 am • linkreport

Oh, c'mon Alpert, I said "east of the river" and "those nine stations", it was pretty obvious exactly what area I was talking about, and it wasn't Eastern Market.

And yes, east of the river is as bad as stated above. There are countless stats, demographics, crime, education and economic data specific to the area covering decades that prove it.

Point is, those stations are ungodly expensive and there is no need for them to sit there unused when there are other places in the system that could use them. I would say the same about stations that were obviously unused in tony places like Georgetown as well.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

freely: I was responding to this statement:

Well, not to offend but its pretty clear that SE DC is an economic, demographic and crime filled wasteland.

There's a good rule of thumb: If you have to say "not to offend," then what you are saying is probably offensive and best not said.

by David Alpert on Jan 25, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

Yep, get rid of the stations in Anacostia/East of the river/whatever you want to call it.

Is there a way to get rid of the yellow lines on this map?

It is interesting to see what bikeshare really becomes a transit replacement where it is used the most.

If I had a mapping tool, I'd get rid of the yellow lines (too distracting) and limit it to weekdays. Pattern might be better.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

Jesus Christ, if you read enough apologists on this blog, you would think that DC was this pristine city of 'diverse neighborhoods', blah blah blah. Half the freaking city is one of the worst ghettos on the East Coast. How's that AIDS rate working out for you? But it would be racist, of course, for me to point out that what's really driving the high AIDS rate in the city are the blacks across the river.

It's hilarious how paternalistic this blog always is towards the black community in the city; how do we get 'them' to embrace urbanism? how do we get 'them' to embrace biking?

I don't think you guys realize it's entirely possible that they might actually appreciate it you kept your 'benevolence' to yourself.

It's one thing to make judgments off of preconceived ideas. However, if you make tough judgments off of data, then no reasonable person could call you a racist/bigot/whatever.

Blacks in DC will embrace biking and urbanism when they embrace education and civil manners.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

@MPC

...it would be racist, of course, for me to point out that what's really driving the high AIDS rate in the city are the blacks across the river...Blacks in DC will embrace biking and urbanism when they embrace education and civil manners.

I think you forgot to preface this with "Not to offend anyone..."

To risk addressing the kernel of your argument, though, am I the only one who sees lots of black men of all socioeconomic classes riding bicycles all over DC? There are probably as many black men on bikes in DC as women cyclists. Maybe it's just a NE thing.

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

There's a good rule of thumb: If you have to say "not to offend," then what you are saying is probably offensive.

Very true...

by Mister Goat on Jan 25, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

In case you missed it, a tribute to Lance Armstrong and urban cyclist:

"Anybody that's from the hood knows who rides bikes everywhere: Crackheads."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmu1CZEN6Yk

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

I once saw someone do a smash and grab robbery on a parked car, then depart the scene on a bike. Bikes: not just for yuppies..

by Phil on Jan 25, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

Freely, I disagree. First of all those stations are not being used much, but they are being used. Second, the stations on the edge, for obvious reasons, will always be used less than stations at the core. Third, lightly used stations serve the system by creating options even if not used - by which I mean a cyclist might ride to Anacostia, knowing that they can find a station IF THEY NEED ONE but without plans to actually do so. That's how I treat the racks on the front of buses. Fourth, those stations put pressure on PG County to join the system. Lastly, as pointed out elsewhere, there are real political reasons why that won't happen, despite the fact that tax-paying racists might want them removed.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

Lastly, as pointed out elsewhere, there are real political reasons why that won't happen, despite the fact that tax-paying racists might want them removed.

Excellent points. Though you forgot to add, "not to offend anyone..."

:)

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

@ oboe & Phil, I understand the intent of your response to MPCs deplorable hateful comment but you're making it worse. Its sounds likeyou're equating non-white bike riders with crack heads and theives.

Of course there are many non-white/non-white-collar bike riders in a city thats still minority white and has 42%(?) car-ownership/household.

The challenge is to interpret the ridership patterns in EOR correclty, e.g most rides are straight west. Why?

by Tina on Jan 25, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

..and of course those lines are "straight east" as well as straight west. in any case David C mades excellent points.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

Of course there are many non-white/non-white-collar bike riders in a city

Really? I'd love to see a citation.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

It will also be interesting to see what these lines look like in the spring, as part of what may be in play here is the fact that many of the stations (those in Georgetown/Ward 3, as well as some of the NE/Hill/H Street) stations weren't even in place until late October or November.

I think the 15th street axis will continue to be a main corridor, but in this map, that effect is perhaps magnified because some of the darkest lines are connecting stations that were present in the first round of openings.

by Jacques on Jan 25, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

@ David C,

1. PG County will never join cabi, and it makes perfect sense. They don't have the population density required to make the system work. That, and 2 years into massive budget deficits that will go out another 3-4 minimum, there is no simply no money for it.

2. Now that DC and Arlington on "on the hook" for all the future costs, I give cabi about 3 total years before it starts to atrophy. Until the number of stations are reduced and unused ones like these 8 are relocated to places where they would actually be used. The bikesharing website shows that 3 total bikes have been used (docked/undocked) among those 8 stations the past 24 hours. It is simply ridiculous to keep them there and DDOT, in the city climate of year after year half billion dollar or more budget deficits is going to have a hard time justifying the expenditure of more docks and bikes when they have 8 docks and ~45 bikes (nearly half a million dollars worth) sitting there unused.

DDOT has admitted it will never come close to paying for itself or operating costs. The hardcore bike fanatics over at Washcycle have admitted it will never pay for itself. Ridership would have to increase by 5 or 6 fold permanatly for it to simply break even. It is an expensive system to operate, wait until the actual maintenance starts.

DDOT will make a show of this for the next year or two, but once the real upkeep and maintenance costs start, it will begin its metro like death spiral. 6 years from now I would take good odds that the system is atleast 20% smaller than it currently is. We shall see.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

@MPC

Take a trip to Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights/any other neighborhood with a Hispanic population and you'll see tons of non-white/non-white-collar people riding bikes.

by MLD on Jan 25, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

@MPC
Take a trip to Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights/any other neighborhood with a Hispanic population and you'll see tons of non-white/non-white-collar people riding bikes

That's a good idea, actually. It would give me a much better picture than any set of official statistics ever would.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

I'll note that the two CB sites east of the river with the fewest rides - Branch Ave & Pennsylvania Ave SE and Nannie Helen Burroughs & Minnesota Ave NE - both show up on the CB website as being currently out-of-service with no bikes at either location.

Obviously, there will be no rides from stations that are out-of-service.

by Craig on Jan 25, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

@MPC,
It would give me a much better picture than any set of official statistics ever would.

So, do you mean to imply that anecdotes trump evidence?

by Craig on Jan 25, 2011 12:13 pm • linkreport

I'm just saying that I agree with you.

Why bother trying to get city-wide statistics when I can go to one neighborhood instead?

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

@Craig and Jacques -thank you for pointing out conditions that affect these data. It underscores how prominent ugly prejuduices are in the minds of some people, that they immediately see what they think supports their prejuidice without asking first if the data are correct.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

freely PG County will never join cabi
College Park, for one, has made some efforts to join CaBi and that's in PG County. Never is very long time.

DDOT has admitted it will never come close to paying for itself or operating costs. The hardcore bike fanatics over at Washcycle have admitted it will never pay for itself.

I've heard mixed messages from DDOT on this. What I've conceeded at Washcycle is that the system won't break even if that isn't a goal. It could break even if that was important to them. But they might define "breaking even" differently. Let's say that each bike trip is worth 1 cent to them in positive externalities, because it represents fewer car trips and thus lower pollution, added health, added safety, etc.. And let's say they generate a million trips and break even on revenue. Then by adding in positive externalities, they've actually made $10,000 in value. being a government, and not a business, they might be willing to spend another $9,000 to add 2 trips per day. The value will still be positive, but the books will show a loss. So it is not only possible that CaBi will not "break even" it is desireable.

6 years from now I would take good odds that the system is atleast 20% smaller than it currently is. I will bet you $100 in real money that it is larger in 6 years. I'll take 2-1 odds, since you're offering "good odds." Furthermore I will give you an extra $10 for each station that it has less than right now (I believe that is 102). So if there are 100 stations I'll pay you $120. But you'll have to agree to pay me $10 for each station over 102. So if there are 104 you pay me $220. I'm serious, and I know how to set this up.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

Just to tip in about PG County, walk around West Hyattsville any day in the Spring/Summer and you'll see plenty of non-White bicyclists riding on the extensive Anacostia Tributary Trail system, as well as to and from the W. Hyattsville metro.

Add to this plans to add between 1,000-3,000 apartments (http://www.hyattsville.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID=893), townhomes and up to 30-story buildings around PG Plaza (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/4119/33story-iconic-building-proposed-for-hyattsville/) in the next few years (and maybe even W. Hyattsville - http://www.eekarchitects.com/portfolio/18-beyond-the-station-transit-oriented-development/60-west-hyattsville-metro-station-master-plan), the up and coming Hyattsville Arts District along Rt. 1 (sans bike lanes), and I think you have the basic footprint for a condensed version of the bikesharing.

Granted the roads around both metros and the arts district would benefit from major revisions to include bike lanes, but I think there's potential here.

by Scott on Jan 25, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

@freely; you are quite correct on PG County.

In terms of profit, I also don't see the system paying for itself. However, that isn't the issue. It is whether in an era of 600 million dollar deficits for DC that the powers that be think it is worth continuing.

I'd say CABI is off to a solid start. Not as good as Montreal, Paris or Lyon but probably better than London and Toronto. 5000 users is a healthy number, and it should not be hard to bump that up more once spring comes. Arlington wants to put some money in and expand, which will help with underperforming Crystal City stations. If Alexandria comes it they will have a lot more value.

I'd say it is a direct subsidy to young people who don't own cars. Nothing wrong with that. Gateway to car-sharing? And as we can start to discern, a decent alternative to some transit lines.

The costs of vandalism haven't kicked in yet, and I think the key cost to keep down is rotating bikes from Adams-Morgan/Dupont/CHeights to downtown.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2011 12:46 pm • linkreport

Even assuming the East of the River CaBi stations get near zero usage, there is simply no political way to remove them. DDOT got lambasted (rightly or wrongly is beside the point) for focusing on "things white people like" (e.g., streetcars, bike lanes, ever-increasing parking meter locations and fees) at the expense of the rest of its mission. Were it to remove those CaBi stations, it would get hit with a public backlash. And that's even assuming the current administration would even allow such a decision to be discussed at DDOT.

Whether the CaBi program will be affordable in a few years is also a separate discussion. My guess is that DDOT's loss of its unified fund will greatly limit its ability to quickly and easily move money around to pay for its latest ideas. The news says capital budgets are also getting hit hard, so how DDOT will pay for the maintenance/repair of its existing stations, while also expanding with new ones, is definitely a fair question.

If the economy continues to suck, will the city be as forgiving about a revenue losing program like CaBi? I have my doubts, especially since it can be easily demagogued by social welfare advocates who can argue why are we paying $X for bikes when we could use that money for the social safety net welfare programs.

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

It is not entirely out of the question to consider economic factors on usage - and the NE and much of Anacostia are lower income.

For lower-income folk the annual-fee is a real barrier to joining the system. To remedy this, CaBi should offer a no-annual-fee/pay-per-minute membership, so that occasional users and low-income residents can benefit from the system the system without having to pay so much up front. A pay-for-what-you-ride rate of rate of 2 or 3 cents a minute (in line with current fees) suggests itself.

As it is CaBi provide a heavily subsidized service to a relatively small group of (I'm guessing) mostly higher income folks - a socially irresponsible position for a government run program. A pay-for-what-you-ride membership option would allow much larger portions of our community to try CaBi.

by egk on Jan 25, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

If the economy continues to suck, will the city be as forgiving about a revenue losing program like CaBi? Every government function is revenue losing. That's why government does it. [Unless they give themselves a monopoly like the lottery or Virginia's liquor stores]. If it was money making, the private sector would do it. But the government can consider the public benefit to offset the cost. Walmart can't say "yeah we lost money, but think of all the jobs we created and all the services we provided." Government can. That's one reason we have government.

egk, another barrier to poor users is the credit card. Not everyone has one.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

@David C: Actually NOT every gov't function is revenue losing. Look at basic things like building permits, business licenses, filing corporate registrations, etc. - All bring in far more revenue to cities than it costs to run those programs, yet they're not run by the private sector.

The question is whether which revenue-losing programs will continue in a climate where general revenues are down and not likely to increase for quite some time. My contention is that CaBi could be a likely candidate for eventual budget cuts - regardless of all its intangible externalities that have "positive value" and other such accounting poppycock.

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 1:26 pm • linkreport

egk, another barrier to poor users is the credit card. Not everyone has one.

Damn it, David C beat me to it. This is basically an insurmountable barrier to entry for most lower income folks. You need a credit card because you need a deposit. What would a cash-only system look like? You'd need to insert a $5 bill and five $100 bills as a deposit, then get reimbursed at the end of the day?

It really is the one major (unfixable) drawback of the system...

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 1:29 pm • linkreport

Look at basic things like building permits, business licenses, filing corporate registrations, etc. - All bring in far more revenue to cities than it costs to run those programs, yet they're not run by the private sector. I'm not sure all of those thins are revenue positive. And you're talking about taxing. I'm not counting taxing as a government function per se. No one creates a government to tax. They create a government to do things, and then tax to pay for those things.

My contention is that CaBi could be a likely candidate for eventual budget cuts So could anything else. Schools lose money too. Perhaps we should shut them down.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 1:31 pm • linkreport

I am one of those people who gets absolute riled on money pit public subsidies. I have been railing against my councilman for a couple years about how much DC spends on the Circulator which is just another free giveaway to a demographic that could easily afford to pay the full freight. Instead we pay 2.50 per trip or 11 million a year on 4.3 million trips for the system. I agree that "in general" the Circulator is a useful service, I just think they should up the farebox recovery instead of giving a freebie to a bunch of high earners who could afford it anyway. However, that subsidy is childs play when compared to cabi.

(All per the washcycle)The cabi system costs 2.3 million per year to operate. DDOT is "hoping" to get to 50% cost recovery on the system. To do so, membership would have to increase by 250%, but lets move on and assume it does.

Lets assume DDOT gets to the 50% mark, then the subsidy is 1.15 million per year on 300K anticipated trips. Again, those trip numbers were based on the warm weather ridership the system experienced the first 2 months and has since fallen off by 40%, but lets just keep the numbers easy.

Thats a per trip subsidy of $3.83, or 53% higher than it costs to subsidize ridership on the Circulator which has to pay dozens of drivers, maintain and operate dozens of buses.

We will likely see once the full year of cabi operation comes that the per trip subsidy will be far higher and its not even a "transportation" system like the Circulator is.

DC has been running 500 million/yr budget deficits the past 2 years. This years was just upped to 600 million. DDOT's budget has been cut by 30% the past 3 budget years. Next years will get worse based on this 600 million hole and we will be in massive deficit spending for probably another 3 -4. Not a chance that DC is going to be spending more money to heavily subsidize a narrow slice of the demographic who already owns bicycles.

PS, I know 3 people, two coworkers and a friend who paid full year memberships for cabi before it opened because they got caught up in the hoopla and have a total of 8 rides between them so far, and have all said they won't be renewing next year. I am sure they aren't the only ones. I think yearly membership will prolly go up next year, but by a pretty minimal amount.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

@David C: I have no doubt that you're unsure of the budget numbers. But I am sure. Take a look at DC budget info to see for yourself. Some gov't programs bring in a ton of revenue (not including taxes).

And I'm not talking about taxing. Just pointing out that your blanket statement was clearly wrong. If you now want to refine you blanket statement to define any government-mandated requirement as a "tax", then that's moving the goal posts quite a ways down the road.

Your hyperbole on schools closing is duly noted and discarded.

CaBi is not comparable to schools. My prediction is that in an enduring ugly fiscal situation, social welfare advocates can spin a better story than CaBi supporters.

Your rebuttal is, essentially, "Nu-uh!"

I believe this concludes today's merry-go-round discussion.

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 1:58 pm • linkreport

Fritz, OK. I've looked at the budget. I don't see the agencies that are revenue positive. Which agencies exactly are bringing in this "ton of revenue"? Only 6.7% of our revenue is labelled as "non-tax revenue" and that is actually 6.7% of the 51% of our budget that is local in nature. Some of that money is interest. Show me where the budget for a licensing agency is less than the revenue that agency brings in. I can't find that information in there.

If you're going to point out that my blanket statement is clearly wrong, you'll need to point it out more clearly. Something more than "look it up." I did. I stand by my statement.

CaBi is easily comparable to schools. Step 1: Identify and quantify the cost of each. Step 2: Identify and quantify the benefits of each. Step 3: Create a ratio. Step 4: Compare.

believe this concludes today's merry-go-round discussion I will decide when this merry-go-round discussion is concluded. Not you.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

Five points:
1. With so few trips in the bottom two trip ranges, I wonder how many of the less frequent station-pairs are just one person commuting back and forth every day. I may be somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of the 49-100 trips between 17th & Corcoran and 6th & F, for example, and that's not even an infrequent station-pairing.

2. I was also a little shocked when I learned that so many hundreds of trips were made by people taking the bikes to just go between 17th in Dupont and 15th in Logan Circle. I have a later (8:45am) commute downtown; by that time 17th & Corcoran is sometimes empty, and I walk to Logan Circle to find a bike. Now I know that some of those bikes at Logan are coming from Corcoran every morning. I assumed we needed high density stations so that folks like me had a backup station for longer trips, when actually a lot of folk are traveling between close-knit stations for many (if not most) of their CaBi trips.

3. I understand the argument that we need to expand the system into new areas, but I also know that the heavily used station pairs on this map are also stations that empty-fill really easily (or rather do so in warmer weather). That may be because they have the stations- but I also wouldn't be completely surprised if CaBi-fans tend to live in Dupont, Logan, Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights.

4. Some of the heavy-use stations were added relatively late: i.e. Georgetown and 16th & New Hampshire.

5. To follow up with my second point, maybe we should count some of the really dense areas together (i.e. the three stations around 14th/15th/New York/H St NW; the two at Rhode Island/15th in Logan Circle), just to see how that changes things. I wonder how many people are traveling between the dense nodes (like me) or within them.

Bottom Line: I think we need more data, a stats wonk and a map maven to really parse some of this information down into useful factoids. That's my 5 cents.

by Steven on Jan 25, 2011 2:23 pm • linkreport

yes we need more data. This map is visually beautiful and imparts useful information nonetheless.

by Tina on Jan 25, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

Freely as long as we're quoting the Washcycle (and I'll note that you didn't).

"It's like a startup ... we've estimated we can hit break-even in about three years. There aren't really any break-even transit systems," says Klein

To do so, membership would have to increase by 250%, but lets move on and assume it does. Not true. Membership fees are only one source of revenue. There is also user fees, advertising revenue etc...

then the subsidy is 1.15 million per year on 300K anticipated trips. Again, those trip numbers were based on the warm weather ridership the system experienced the first 2 months and has since fallen off by 40% The system still isn't entirely deployed, it wasn't even close when those numbers were gathered and it will expande in the spring - due to the economy of scales the system should expand more than costs. Using the first two months as a benchmark for the year is sure to way undercount users.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

@David C,

Wrong.
http://www.thewashcycle.com/2010/11/20-more-cabi-stations-in-dc-this-spring.html

1. Your first lesson should perhaps be quoting Klein, a guy whose biggest claim to fame was running Zipcar, which is now is in its 10 year of operation as a for-profit and has yet to post 1 dollar of profit the entire time. The man lost his job at DDOT for a reason. His inability to count and subtract was one of them.

2. Using the first two month is a perfect "gimme" to you. I was doing you a favor. Why? Because the weather was warm, people were super exicted about the system and it was being used. As I mentioned and you summarily ignored, ridership has fallen off by 40% since it got cold. Winter lasts 4-5 months in this town and so will the massively reduced numbers. I assumed the higher ridership numbers through the entire winter to make a point to you. It clearly sailed right over your head.

3. You clearly fully assumed that DC will be able to collect revenue on advertising by ignoring the clear and lengthy issues to overcome.

"There’s a law that prohibits advertising on District-owned property without special legislation. A special legislation was passed to allow advertising on bus shelters. It is something we’re looking into."

First point is you think they would have looked into that "before".

Second point is, cabi isn't like a bus stop. Why? Because we worked out a deal with clearchannel to pay for and "own" the bus stops in exchange for the advertising revenue. Clear channel doesn't own cabi so there is nothing to trade. If the issue can be overcome it will likely take years and in the end, all the while cabi will be no where near the 50% number and if everything does align perfectly, then cabi will get to that magic 50% point.

I've got an awesome suspension bridge to sell you in Nevada if you believe that.

Lastly, you should google economy of scale not "scales"...you clearly have no idea what it means.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

I started my post earlier this afternoon, and didn't read all the posts re CaBi and race first. Given all the repugnant racial comments, I should probably point out (in case it isn't obvious) that I said "CaBi-fans" not "white people". For what it's worth, I think there's a difference.

I also think there's a difference between a CaBi user and a CaBi fan. I always assumed that the latter was like me-- a Twitter-er with disposable income and no particular need to show up _anywhere_ on time-- while the former may have a few more reasonable constraints. Either way, I think CaBi fans probably congregate in places like Dupont/Logan and Columbia Heights. I doubt any of my neighbors care enough about budget deficits to bother, but if somebody would like to make a chart comparing "care about budget deficits" and "CaBi membership", please pass that along.

by Steven on Jan 25, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

@David C: You can stand by your blanket statement until the cows come home. The folks that actually understand how the DC budget works will simply laugh at such a statement.

Again, you're changing the goal posts (again) by saying a licensing program doesn't bring in enough money to support an agency. That wasn't what you originally stated: "Every gov't function is revenue losing". I stated that you're wrong to make such a blanket statement. You then shifted the goal posts to talk about taxes. And then you shifted the goal posts again to talk about a program funding an entire agency.

It's like debating Jell-O, without anywhere near as much enjoyment.

If you want to really compare CaBi to schools when it comes to who survives budget cuts, by all means! Perhaps you can come up with a step by step quantification of the externalities of unicorns vs. leprechauns?

Enjoy the merry-go-round. I'm going to feed the pigeons.

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 3:09 pm • linkreport

@freely

1. Attack the facts, not the person. Klein said "We" as in the DDOT team - the same DDOT team you later quote. Your attacking him only belittles you.

2. No the first two months are not a gimme, because membership was still rising, stations were still being deployed and the tourist season was largely over. Ridership has fallen for the winter, that will last for 4 months. I do not believe that drop we see over the winter will be as large as the increase we see over the rest of the year. I didn't ignore your point, I just think that the number of trips will be higher for the reasons I mentioned. There were more than 100,000 trips in the first 10 weeks (several of those weeks in winter). That gets to 520,000 trips according to your logic. But I think it will be more.

3. I think that DC may be able to collect ad revenue. Primarily because DDOT and Arlington think they can collect ad revenue. I have not assumed that. I think it is possible. Laws can be changed, and the system isn't only in DC.

4. Why is "before" in quotes?

5. We don't need clearchannel to sell ads on the bike stations. Not anymore that taxis do. What does clearchannel have to do with this? CaBi can sell it's own ads, no?

6. I mistyped scales. Thank you for point that out. Despite that typo I know what economy of scale is. In this case I mean that managing 200 stations is not twice as expensive as managing 100. How is that not appropriate.

7. Quit telling me to google things. If you have a point to make, google it yourself and leave a link. Like this.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

OK Fritz, I'll make this easy. Show me a DC government function - other than taxing - that is revenue positive. Show me how much money that function produces and how much it costs to perform the function. Use real numbers from the budget. Or, you can just keep insisting that it is so.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

I think CaBi stays because the folks who are running the city understand that it's things like CaBi that attract new residents who will allow the city to grow out of the current recession. This is a stark contrast to the way we've done it for the last 30 years, which is to cut any and all services which might be attractive to middle-class taxpayers so that we can increase funding for programs that import poverty from the suburbs.

Now *that* was a recipe for solvency!

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 3:22 pm • linkreport

@oboe: "I think CaBi stays because the folks who are running the city understand that it's things like CaBi that attract new residents who will allow the city to grow out of the current recession."

Now that's a chart or a calculation that I'd like to see.

How many $75k earners need to re-locate to DC/Arlington (at least partly attracted by CaBi-like services) in order to make up some of that $1.15m subsidy, through property, sales, or income tax. If each "CaBi-fan" that relocates in DC adds $10k in combined tax revenue, then you would only need 115 additional residents in that range, per year. (Of course, then we would need a calculation of how much DC revenue is expended on that profile of resident).

Realizing that relocations are a multi-causal phenomena, amenities such as this one are among the things that help potential renters or owners to decide where to live.

It would be interesting to know (and through annual CaBi surveys, it would be possible to note how long members have lived in DC).

Does anyone have the data/curiosity to dig into this question, or am I totally off the deep end?

by Jacques on Jan 25, 2011 3:33 pm • linkreport

the thing is that all mobility is subsidized, and it's unfair to rail against bikesharing for subsidy and not call into question the massive subsidy of cars generally and in the city specifically (such as the $15/year cost for a residential parking permit). (But maybe to make dollar sense, it will have to cost more than $75 to subscribe.)

But I still agree somewhat with freely that you want to put the stations where they will be used, because that's an efficient use of the resource. The political stuff gets you into trouble as the streetcar has proved.

If you want them to be used in places where there is less likelihood of use, you have to do other things.

WRT low income users, DC is doing a program with some banking type institution where people can get debit cards and be able to subscribe that way. I don't know if they allow a special monthly rate, which would be an inducement for low income users, and it's reasonable for public policy reasons to provide this kind of subsidy.

But this program should be promoted, using the ad kiosks that so far can't be used for ads. Similarly, there should be big time promotional-programming initiatives. (which is in the bikesharing model for the company that I work with on trying to get bikesharing projects--although we are under-funded at present making it hard to compete with Bixi).

With regard to expansion outside of DC and Arlington, again, you don't try to do a ubiquitous system, but one that can work. PG County along US 1 up to College Park offers some decent opportunities for bikesharing implementation, although there are other maybe better initiatives that should be done in the interim (that I will be blogging about soon) that are more cost effective.

The big issue overall is that DC is just on the cusp of the right density to make such systems work. It can work at the core, but probably not in the outlying areas. Remember, in the less dense neighborhoods in Montreal, they don't have bikesharing either (although there are other reasons for this, the boroughs have independent governments, and must choose to participate in the Bixi system).

by Richard Layman on Jan 25, 2011 3:49 pm • linkreport

I'd agree that we should make sure stations are in the best location. But I think we're too early to determine that we need to move any of the stations - and certainly too early to decide we need to abandon all of Wards 7 and 8. Perhaps these stations should be made smaller, but not all of them removed.

I think some ubiquity is what makes it works - so I don't mind seeing stations somewhat far apart.

The big issue overall is that DC is just on the cusp of the right density to make such systems work. I don't know if we can say that. We know the density of Paris and Montreal - and we know they work, but we don't know if less density will work. We have so few examples of systems that have worked and those that haven't that we can only make guesses as to what the right population density or station density is. Just because Montreal doesn't have them in the suburbs doesn't mean they can't work. A woman has never walked on the Moon, but I'm confident one could.

by David C on Jan 25, 2011 5:33 pm • linkreport

More on pay-per-use:

For many years I was a member of "Call-a-bike" in Germany, which is run by the German rail company. They use by-the-minute billing (was 6 cents a minute, now 10 cents) and come quite close to covering their costs. Because there was essentially no annual fee they have many infrequent users. A 2004 survey showed that the vast majority (85%) of the 80,000 registered users used the system less then once a week. These infrequent users accounted for about as many rides as the frequent users, however.

Not only would pay-by-the-minute open up CaBi to lower-income users, it would open up CaBi to the once a week or once a month user, for whom it is now significantly overpriced, further expanding the potential "market."

by egk on Jan 25, 2011 5:42 pm • linkreport

WOW... This is the first blog post on GGW that almost made me scream because of the misinformation and ignorance of East of the River.

@Freely, Charlie, and MPC.... If you have no knowledge of an area, please refrain from spreading lies and half-truths. I live in Hillcrest and I'm a bikeshare member. The closest Bikeshare to my house is at Penn Branch, which has been out of commission since October due to Penn Ave Great Streets construction.

This is a teachable moment to why ridership is low East of the River

1) Start-up Costs - The $75 annual fee is an obstacle for some. This could easily be remedied by offering a payment plan over several months.

2) Marketing - with all due respect to DDOT most of the marketing was online and via twitter. The bike shares were plopped down East of the River with little additional outreach to the community.

3) Bike Share locations - DDOT determined locations based on several quantitative criteria. However, some of the locations East of the River don't make sense qualitatively. For example, the one closest to my house is 0.25-miles. However it's 0.25 miles UPHILL. The analysis didn't consider the topography East of the River. Also many of the locations are along Minnesota Ave, which is a well served bus corridor. If the stations were along the Alabama Ave corridor, you would see more movement between locations East of the River.

4) Lack of a critical mass - 11 bike shares w/2 out of commission for a land area that's probably 25% of the City. REALLY??? SERIOUSLY???

To clear up misconceptions, Black people east of the river do ride bikes. Go to MLK Jr Ave SE on any weekday and you will see bikes chained to trees and signs (b/c we don't have bike racks). It is not uncommon to see a bike on the front of a bus.

I invite you expand your limited knowledge of East of the River via a tour my neighborhood. If you are sooooooo worried about your safety, I can arrange a police escort. This is a serious offer and I hope you will consider.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Jan 26, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

@Veronica O Davis; whatever your excuses, the reality is according to that map there have been about 500 total bike-share trips East of the River in a 3 month period, or about 5 a day. Each station -- not each bike -- is used less than once a day.

Take those stations out and put them where there is more demand. I think CABI was quite proud when they hit the "one bike a day being used" metric.

by charlie on Jan 26, 2011 2:11 pm • linkreport

@Veronica, you make good observations.

by Tina on Jan 26, 2011 2:24 pm • linkreport

@egk: the problem with by-the-minute uses is that a deposit needs to be charged to dissuade and pay for theft/loss/etc. DB Call-A-Bike still requires that you register an account beforehand; it appears that the maximum liability is €80, but Germans are a trusting lot.

@oboe: Those who don't have credit cards can use prepaid debit cards. The city has set up Bank On DC to encourage more people to open checking accounts, which generally give debit card privileges.

@Veronica: thanks.

by Payton on Jan 27, 2011 4:14 pm • linkreport

@Payton,

The city has set up Bank On DC to encourage more people to open checking accounts, which generally give debit card privileges.

That sounds promising, but how do they handle the matter of a deposit for the return of the bike? Isn't there a requirement to have a fairly substantial credit line to cover the $1000 charge in case the bike goes missing?

by oboe on Jan 27, 2011 4:36 pm • linkreport

@Veronica:

3) Bike Share locations - DDOT determined locations based on several quantitative criteria. However, some of the locations East of the River don't make sense qualitatively. For example, the one closest to my house is 0.25-miles. However it's 0.25 miles UPHILL. The analysis didn't consider the topography East of the River. Also many of the locations are along Minnesota Ave, which is a well served bus corridor. If the stations were along the Alabama Ave corridor, you would see more movement between locations East of the River.

4) Lack of a critical mass - 11 bike shares w/2 out of commission for a land area that's probably 25% of the City. REALLY??? SERIOUSLY???

I'm pretty sure that all of the analysis did indeed include the kinds of things you're talking about (including topography, which is quite the challenge East of the River).

There's a key difference between analysis and policy, however. You'll note that no area in the periphery of the city has a critical mass of stations - not in Ward 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8. The areas that do have large clusters of stations are (understandably) the central wards of 1, 2, and 6 - which are also the city's most densely populated.

So, to the extent that DDOT had several conflicting goals to meet (offer coverage in all 8 wards, but still achieve successful station densities with only 100 stations to use), areas on the edge were bound to be underutilized and feature less than a critical mass.

Your point #4 implies that 25% of the city's land area should get 25% of the stations - but such an arrangement would surely lead to an unsuccessful launch of the system, with stations spread too thin and too far apart. Indeed, I think the result would be that coverage across the city would mirror exactly the kind of patterns we currently see East of the River.

Also, exact station location selection is a somewhat pragmatic exercise. They need to find an area of sufficient size, preferably in public space, with decent sunlight, and where the station itself won't cover any utility covers, manholes, etc. There's also the consideration of the overall network. Putting the East of the River stations along Alabama Avenue might be a good idea, but then you'd have a very large gap between the Alabama Ave stations and those in the rest of the network.

In short, I think DDOT's station location decisions for the entire CaBi network are entirely defensible. I also agree that some of the comments on this piece are rather surprising.

by Alex B. on Jan 27, 2011 4:39 pm • linkreport

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