DDOT DC / Flickr
Bike-sharing may be one of the cheapest methods of public transportation in D.C., but you can’t use a bike without a credit card. That poses a big challenge in the District, where more than 12 percent of households are unbanked, meaning they don’t have access to financial instruments like bank accounts.
D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare launched a program this month to get more people credit cards so they can use the bikes, The Atlantic Cities reports:
Capital Bikeshare partnered with United Bank, the District Government Employees Federal Credit Union, and Bank on DC, a collaborative between the city, local financial institutions and non-profits working to provide greater access to financial products in the District. Residents can open a Bank on DC account with none of the minimum balances or monthly fees that frequently serve as an obstacle.
Through Bank on DC, Capital Bikeshare will offer a discounted $50 annual membership to residents who don’t currently use a bank but sign up for a debit or credit account through either the District employees credit union or United Bank.
Increasing access to credit cards is only one way to get more low-income people riding. Capital Bikeshare works best when bike stations are clustered together. Stations east of the Anacostia River, in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, are fewer in number and spread further apart than in wealthier and denser sections of Northwest. But access east of the river is improving; in May, there were nine stations, and now there are 13.
Flickr: Rudi Riet
Greater Greater Washington has mapped out Capital Bikeshare usage ahead of Wednesday night’s public meeting on the system’s expansion.
The District Department of Transportation is poised to expand Capital Bikeshare by 25 new stations this summer, choosing from a list of 55 candidates. Of those 55, five are east of the Anacostia River, in the District’s poorest wards.
The least-used of the existing stations are almost all located east of the Anacostia:
Of course we’d expect the stations in the middle to be used the most. Likewise is true of Metro. That doesn’t mean that the peripheral bikeshare stations or Metro stations aren’t useful.
And it makes sense that peripheral stations would be used less given that bikeshare works best when stations are clustered together — the fewer the stations nearby, the less the usage. Adding more east of the river could be one way to increase usage of the existing stations, although doing so doesn’t address the other obstacles that prevent lower-income residents from using the bikes.
Given the documented low usage of the existing stations some fear calls to abandon the program altogether in parts of Wards 7 and 8. Groups such as the Washington Area Bicyclist Association are actively working to encourage bicycling among Ward 7 and 8 residents, and DDOT has no plans of giving up in those neighborhoods. But whether they’ll be able to expand there when there is so much demand elsewhere is another matter.
Wednesday’s meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., at 441 4th St., NW, Room 1107.
Captial Bikeshare is poised to expand by 25 stations and the District Department of Transportation released a map today showing potential sites for the expansion of the system.
The new stations will be picked out of a list of 55 possibilities, including five sites East of the River in Wards 7 and 8. Why so few proposed sites in such a large swath of the District?
Part of the reason seems to be the amount of density needed to support stations, as well as demand. It’s well documented that use is low East of the River and the demand in Downtown is quite high. We spoke with DDOT spokesman John Lisle a few weeks ago to get more thoughts on how the agency will pick where bike stations go, and he said there are definitely “competing interests” at hand.
Few stations exist East of the Anacosita River (in red).