Saturday, October 16, 2010

Urban Short-term Rental Bikes

In the past week or so, I have seen a half dozen Capital Rideshare bikes being ridden on the National Mall (see example below). My impression of the riders is that they are using it as a tourism tool, which isn't the usual point of the exercise, but it's a start and anyway, some use is better than no use.

Looks pretty good

The Capital Rideshare bikes are similar in nature to the gray bikes in similar (and much greater) use in Paris (below).

Me & a Rental Bike in Paris

Here is a photo of an example of an urban rental bike in Barcelona - but it is less customized as a rental; more of a "regular bike." I note the plastic chain guard on one of them is already broken. The extensive use of brittle-looking plastics on urban rental bikes is puzzling.


  1. I like the idea in general, but I don't see how the business model will work for other than tourists. If you have a bike and live in or near D.C., you won't need one. I don't see people commuting to D.C., then using a bike to work up a sweat and go out to lunch on one.
    --Mike Doan

  2. My understanding is that the business model for these in Europe gives a very small role to tourists as customers and I would assume that the hope is that eventually that will work here, too. The trick here will be to scale up the operations without losing too much money and to get enough people to figure out ways to make using these bikes useful for them. According to their site they now have 1,100 bikes while in Paris it is what, 25,000? Still, it's a start. (

    While the online map showing the number of units available at their stations doesn't suggest that much use yet, I have seen about ten or so in use out and about and mostly their riders did not look like tourists, particularly in the morning before 9 am.

    Rides under 30 minutes are free (beyond the membership charge) so if I ride a train to Union Station, riding a bike a couple of miles to a location that is near a Metro stop would save $ and probably not take much longer, and in bad weather there would be the option of reverting to Metro.