Since its launch in 2010, the Capital Bikeshare program has witnessed tremendous growth in ridership. From 2011 to 2014, the number of Bikeshare trips that began or ended in the District of Columbia grew 2.6-fold. This remarkable growth has been fueled by the addition of new Bikeshare stations throughout the region and by the attractiveness of the program as an alternative mode of transportation.
A survey recently released by Capital Bikeshare gives us glimpse into how Bikeshare members use the service. The survey found that:
- 85 percent used the bikes to attend social events;
- 79 percent used the bikes for personal appointments;
- 78 percent used the bikes to go shopping or run errands;
- 77 percent used the bikes to eat at restaurants;
- 74 percent used the bikes to go to work; and
- 54 percent used the bikes to exercise.
However, when weighed by the frequency of trips, the most common use of Bikeshare is for going to work. Survey respondents that use Bikeshare to travel to work did so more frequently than for any other purpose. Of these travelers, nearly half use the bike share more than six time per month to travel to work.
This left us wondering if Capital Bikeshare trip data for the District of Columbia supports the results of the survey. We analyzed program data since the start of the program and created an interactive map to visualize station traffic and user habits over time.
(click to interact with the following map)
Here’s what we found:
- Within the District, the net Bikeshare traffic flows from the NW quadrant to downtown area and to Georgetown.
- The average District Bikeshare station experiences approximately 1,079 arrivals, 1,081 departures, and 2,159 total trips each month so on average, arrivals and departures even out across the city.
- There is great variation in trip volume between stations. The location with the highest amount of use, Massachusetts Ave & Dupont Circle NW, averaged 9,751 in monthly trips. In comparison, the location with lowest amount of use, Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave & 49th St NE, averaged only nine trips per month.
- Station trips fluctuate seasonally due to weather conditions. The use begins to increase in April, peaks in the summer, and declines beginning October.
(click to interact with the following table)
Comparing arrival and departure data by station with the District of Columbia Office of Zoning land use map shows that Bikeshare traffic flows from residential areas to commercial areas. In order to compare stations, we calculated the percentage of total trips that were arrivals and departures for each station. Then we calculated the difference between the arrival rate and the departure rate to see if bikes tend to flow in or out of a station. For example, if 70 percent of all trips logged in a station are arrivals and 30 percent departures, the station’s trip balance would favor arrivals by 40 percent.
Since 2011, stations with the highest percentage of arrivals are generally located in areas of the city that are designated as commercial use and are home to offices, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment.
Conversely, stations with the highest percentage of departures are generally located in areas designated for residential use.
The most balanced stations – those that essentially have an equal percentage of arrivals and departures – are located in a mix of residential, commercial, federal, and institutional areas.
The data we analyzed also captured another Bikeshare phenomenon that has been documented in the past. There is an imbalance between arrivals in departures across the entire system which requires an extensive redistribution program to ensure bike availability. This imbalance is captured in the survey results since 59% of respondents cite access to transportation and the ability to take one-way trips as an important factor in their decision to join the Capital Bikeshare.
What exactly is this data?
Bikeshare station location and trip data were derived from the Capital Bikeshare dashboard. Zoning and land use information was gathered from the District of Columbia Office of Planning land use maps. The survey results referenced in the post are included in the 2014 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey Report.