2013 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey

Capital BiCapital Bikeshare Logokeshare is currently the largest bikesharing program in the United States with approximately 1900 bikes, 220 stations, and 22,000 members.  It is also one of the oldest and most established, beginning operations in September 2010.

As cities in the United States consider bikeshare programs, there is a growing interest in how people use bikesharing and the impact it has on transportation, economic development, health and quality of life. New bikeshare programs will roll out soon in major cities such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, and dozens more cities have plans to follow suit.

This 2013 Capital Bikeshare report provides the results of a survey of Capitalbikeshare members conducted in 2012. A similar survey was conducted the previous year. The 2013 survey also coincided with a separate survey of Capital Bikeshare’s health impacts among members, which was administered by graduate students from  Public Policy and Public Administration Program at The George Washington University.

Word cloud showing the reasons members gave for why they like bikeshare

Word cloud for answers to the question “[w]hat do you like best about using Capital Bikeshare bikes?”


Capital Bikeshare members benefit from easier, faster access to destinations and access to a wider range of destinations.

  • Four in ten respondents had made a trip in the past month that they would not have made without bikeshare.
  • 61% said they would not have made the trip because it was too far to walk, so bikeshare broadened their travel destination options.
  • Others gave reasons related to the difficulty of travel or disadvantages of driving to a particular destination or at a particular time of day. For these members, bikeshare expands their easy and convenient travel options.

The “transit access” role that bikeshare offers expands travel range even further.

  • Over half (54%) of respondents said at least one of the bikeshare trips they made last month either started or ended at a Metrorail station and 17% had used bikeshare six or more times for this purpose.
  • About a quarter (23%) of respondents said they used Capital Bikeshare to access bus service in the past month.

Capital Bikeshare makes travel fun and more flexible.

More than three-quarters of members said they were motivated to join Capital Bikeshare because:

  • It offers a new travel option
  • It provides a one-way travel option
  • He or she simply enjoys biking
  • The opportunity to make one-way trips by bikeshare builds on the wealth of travel options – bikeshare, transit, taxi, walking, carshare – that bikeshare members can choose “in the moment,” increasing their travel flexibility.

Bikeshare serves both work-related and personal travel needs.

  • Seven in ten respondents reported that they at least occasionally use bikeshare for social/entertainment and errands/personal appointments trips
  • 66% use bikeshare to go out for a meal.
  • 55% use bikeshare for shopping trips, all non-work purposes.
  • But 58% of respondents use bikeshare to go to/from work and 40% use bikeshare “often” for this purpose.

Bikeshare members appear to have shifted some trips to bicycle from driving, taxi, transit, and walking. This helps to relieve demand on the various transportation systems in the region’s core.

  • A quarter of respondents increased their use of bicycling since joining Capital Bikeshare.
  • By comparison
    • 50% drove a car less often
    • 60% use a taxi less often
    • 61% ride Metrorail less often
    • 52% ride a bus less often
    • 52% decreased their walking.

Capital Bikeshare enables members to give up the cost and hassle of car ownership and driving.

  • More than half of the Capital Bikeshare members surveyed said they don’t have access to a car or other personal vehicle.
  • Five percent of members surveyed had sold a household vehicle since joining CB and 80% of these members said bikeshare was a factor in their decision to sell the vehicle.
  • A quarter of respondents said they reduced their driving miles since joining Capital Bikeshare.
  • Across all respondents, the average driving reduction was 198 miles per year, equating to about 4.4 million fewer driving miles by the 22,200 bikeshare members (in November 2012).

Capital Bikeshare members each save an average of $800 per year on personal travel costs

  • Average weekly transportation cost savings: $15.39, or about $800 over the course of the year.
  • Across the estimated 22,200 Capital Bikeshare members in November 2012, the collective saving is almost $18 million each year.
    Annual cost savings for Capital Bikeshare members.

    Annual cost savings for Capital Bikeshare members.

Respondents give high marks to most Capital Bikeshare features.

  • More than seven in ten respondents gave ratings of 4 (Very Good) or 5 (Excellent) to:
    • Capital Bikeshare website
    • Station safety
    • Mechanical repair of bikes
    • The call center
    • Capital Bikeshare station maps
  • Respondents were less satisfied with the nighttime lighting at the stations; 55% of respondents rated this feature as 4 or 5.

Capital Bikeshare members are eager for expansion

In descending order, members called for:

  • More docks at existing stations (47%).
  • New stations in residential neighborhoods (43%).
  • Expansion to areas that bikeshare doesn’t serve now (36%).
  • Expansion within the existing service area (greater infill or density of stations; 34%).

 Safety concerns remain a key barrier to more biking.

The report also investigates barriers to bicycling in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  The most common responses were:

  • Lack of dedicated bicycle lanes or paths, 56%
  • Drivers are inconsiderate of bicyclists, 49%

Capital Bikeshare members are demographically distinct from the region’s population as a whole.

  • More than nine in ten survey respondents are employed, while the U.S. Census reports only about seven in ten adults in the Washington region are employed.
  • Compared to all commuters in the region, they are:
    • Considerably younger.
    • More likely to be male.
    • More likely to be white.
    • More likely to be highly educated.
    • Slightly less affluent.
Capital Bikeshare Station in DC

Capital Bikeshare stations themselves are an important marketing tool.

Bikeshare visibility and referrals are important marketing tools for Capital Bikeshare and Have Increased in Importance since 2011

  • Respondents are most likely to have learned about Capital Bikeshare by seeing a station (31%) or through a referral from a friend or family member (27%).
  • These two sources have become more important as the program has matured; 39% of members who joined CB in 2012 mentioned seeing a station, compared with only 20% who joined in the first seven months of the program (August 2010 – March 2011).
  • Referrals also have doubled over that time, with 34% of 2012 members mentioning this source, compared with 17% of “first adopter” members.


  • Data collection and analysis completed by LDA Consulting.
  • Data collection via online survey.
  • E-mail invitations sent to approximately 11,100 of the 22,200 total members and a reminder was sent to all members in the monthly Capital Bikeshare e-newsletter.
  • Respondents were incentivized with an entry into a drawing to win an iPad to members who completed the survey.
  • During the approximately four-week period that the survey website was active, 3,731 members completed the survey, for a total response rate of 34%.

Several of the Travel Survey questions also were included in the Health Survey [hyperlink to page] that was simultaneously fielded. Comparison of results for the Travel Survey and Health Survey populations on key demographic questions indicated that the populations were not statistically different, thus data for the 3,111 Capital Bikeshare members who participated in the Health Survey were added to the Travel Survey data for the 3,111 Capital Bikeshare members who participated in the Health Survey were added to the Travel Survey data for these questions, bringing the total sample for some Travel Survey questions to 6,842.


Capital Bikeshare 2013 Member Survey Summary Presentation (PDF)

Capital Bikeshare 2013 Member Survey Executive Summary (PDF)

Capital Bikeshare 2013 Member Survey Report (PDF)

Full report also available on the Capital Bikeshare System Data site.

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