Business Appears to Be Picking Up Near Capital Bikeshare Stations

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Ralph is an urban affairs and planning professor at Virginia Tech and a co-editor of City Cycling by MIT Press.
March 5, 2014

Tejada

Walter Tejada of the Arlington County Board helps launch a bikeshare station.

New research suggests that companies located near Capital Bikeshare stations see an increase in business because of traffic from bikeshare riders.

During the 2013 fall semester a group of urban-planning graduate students at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria campus investigated the economic impacts of bikesharing on local businesses.

Together with myself and Andrea Hamre, the students used a sample of five Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) stations in Washington D.C. to conduct intercept surveys with 333 users and a door-to-door survey of 140 local businesses located close to CaBi stations in:

  • Georgetown (C & O Canal & Wisconsin Ave NW)
  • Logan Circle (14th St NW & Rhode Island Ave NW)
  • Adams Morgan (Adams Mill Rd NW & Columbia Rd NW)
  • H Street (13th St NE & H St NE), and
  • Dupont Circle (Massachusetts Ave & Dupont Circle).

Overall, the study suggests that CaBi generates shared benefits among users and businesses.

Here are some key findings:

Capital Bikeshare Users

  • The sample of 333 bikeshare users had a similar demographic profile to CaBi members responding to the most recent Capital Bikeshare Member Survey
  • 73 percent of respondents were motivated to use CaBi because of shorter travel times, while 42 percent reported enjoyment, 41 percent reported exercise, and 25 percent reported lower travel costs
  • 66 percent of users reported traveling to a destination associated with consumer spending (such as food-related or entertainment), and of those 63 percent planned to spend $10-$49 and 30 percent planned to spend more than $50
  • Most users traveling to spending destinations indicated they would be spending at a business nearby the CaBi station, with 39 percent reporting spending would occur within 2 blocks of the station and an additional 40 percent indicating spending would occur within 4 blocks
  • About one in six respondents (16 percent) indicated they would not have made their trip without the presence of the CaBi station, while 78 percent indicated they would have made the trip regardless of CaBi (and 6 percent were unsure)
  • Of those 16 percent who reported making an induced (new) trip, 19 percent indicated they would have likely stayed home rather than traveling to another neighborhood
  • 19 percent of those who indicated they would have traveled to the neighborhood regardless of the CaBi station indicated they were likely to spend more money because of arriving by CaBi

Businesses

  • A total of 140 businesses completed the business survey, representing a range of business types including 49 percent food-related establishments, 31 percent retail, 11 percent other business types, and 9 percent unidentified
  • The vast majority of businesses were aware of the CaBi system (88 percent), and 32 percent reported having experience using the system themselves
  • Most businesses did not know if CaBi had any effect on customer traffic levels. Nevertheless, approximately 10 percent perceived an increase in customer traffic
  • About one in five businesses perceived that CaBi has positively impacted their sales while another 79 percent reported a neutral impact or were unsure
  • Most businesses (70 percent) indicated CaBi has had a positive effect on the neighborhood, while another 29 percent reported a neutral impact or were unsure
  • 69 percent of businesses described the location of their business in relation to CaBi as favorable
  • 59 percent of businesses indicated they would like more CaBi stations to be added
  • 22 percent of businesses indicated they would have a positive reaction to replacing sidewalk space with a CaBi station and additional 26 percent would be neutral
  • 29 percent of businesses would have a positive reaction to replacing car parking and an additional 32 percent would be neutral about removing car parking in favor of a bikeshare station.

Photo by M.V. Jantzen

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Alex Hutchinson March 6, 2014 at 9:58 AM

The 5 stations are of the 5 busiest economic/entertainment activity centers in Washington D.C.. Were other stations examined that lack this cluster of entertainment options to understand if business is truly “picking” up near these stations, or there was already a growing economic environment. One could argue that business had already picked up in these neighborhoods.

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avatar Ralph Buehler March 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM

In response to Alex Hutchinson (March 6, 9:58am): We only looked at these 5 stations not the entire system. In terms of approach: we asked businesses around these 5 CaBi stations specifically about their opinions about CaBi and their perception of CaBi’s impact on their business. Thus, the question tried to isolate CaBi’s effect from other growth. (You can of course always argue that the perception of the business owners is wrong.)

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avatar Cody March 25, 2014 at 4:48 AM

Did you know that a 12 pack of beer (or soda) fits perfectly into the bike carrier? Just one more reason to make that short trip to your local corner store using Capital Bikeshare.

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avatar Jan Nelsen March 26, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Survey of Bikeshare users reveal Bikeshare users use Bikeshare. How informative.

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avatar Paul Mackie March 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Jan, please read the study (and this blog post) before you make uninformed comments or assumptions. Yes, bikeshare members were surveyed, but so were business owners near bikeshare stations.

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