Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How Capital Bikeshare Members Use System is Becoming Clearer

Here is my article published by Mobility Lab, and subsequently covered by CityLab, DCist, WTOP, and others.
Bikeshare survey 2014
Since Capital Bikeshare’s previous surveys in 2011 and 2012, members of the Washington D.C. region’s bikeshare program have grown a little older, become more widespread throughout the region (rather than simply being from the urban core), and become more prominently affluent white males.

This latest survey (see the full survey and executive summary here) – issued to Capital Bikeshare’s nearly 28,000 members, completed by 16 percent (4,314) in November 2014, and released publicly today – shows a lot of other interesting trends related to things like:

  • significantly contributing to the region’s economy and business
  • encouraging changes in commuting and general traveling behaviors, and
  • considerably increasing economic savings for members.

Who uses Capital Bikeshare?
In 2011, 14 percent of members were 45 years or older, but in the new survey, 20 percent fill that age range. Seventeen percent lived outside of D.C. in 2011, but now 25 percent do, perhaps not surprising, with recent expansions in Virginia and Maryland.

The most striking increase in the average member profile is that 39 percent claimed $100,000 or more in household income in 2011, while now a full 50 percent state that as their current household income.

Two other intriguing findings are that members increasingly have their own bicycle and are members of carshare programs. In 2011, only 29 percent of members had their own bicycle, but 52 percent have one now. And only 9 percent had car2go or Zipcar memberships. That number has increased to 39 percent.

Who CaBi
How are people joining Capital Bikeshare?
“Growth in membership numbers has been steady since the program launched in August 2010,” said Lori Diggins, owner of LDA Consulting, who performed these surveys and conducts transportation research for Commuter ConnectionsgoDCgoCapital Bikeshare, Mobility Lab and others.

Simply having all the stations throughout the region has been the number-one marketing tool for attracting new members – 30 percent said that’s how they became aware of the multi-jurisdictional public program. Word-of-mouth referrals (26 percent) also play a key role.

Social media and news articles about Capital Bikeshare have played a decreasing role in raising awareness about the system. However, that is likely due to the sheer increase in stations and riders around the region that are doing the “heavy lifting” on promoting the benefits of bikeshare.

Why are people joining Capital Bikeshare?
This reasoning hasn’t really changed much for members over the years. Ninety-four percent were motivated to join because it’s important that they be able to get around “easily and faster,” 84 percent say it’s important they have a “new and one-way travel option,” and 77 percent say it’s important they have a “fun way to travel.”

It also is generally clear that younger members are motivated by the ease of getting around and saving money while older members tend to be more interested in exercise, health and helping the environment.

How are members using Capital Bikeshare?
On average, members take 13 rides per month on the system. Fifty-nine percent make six or more trips and 24 percent take Capital Bikeshare 20 or more times monthly.

Seventy-four percent of members use Capital Bikeshare to get to or from work at least once a month. However, the biggest use is for entertainment purposes or socializing with friends (85 percent).

“The longer people are Capital Bikeshare members, the more uses they are finding for it,” Diggins said.
It’s clear that bikeshare has entrenched itself as a key cog in the D.C. transportation network. Sixty-four percent of members use it at least once a month to access Metrorail as a first-mile, last-mile option. However, far fewer are finding it useful in linking to buses or commuter rail.

How CaBi
How is Capital Bikeshare impacting the local economy?
For starters, 49 percent of members said they made trips on Capital Bikeshare during the month prior to taking the survey that they would not have made otherwise – a phenomenon called “induced trips.”

Further, businesses are simply more attractive to Capital Bikeshare members when they are near bikeshare stations. A whopping 82 percent said they are either “somewhat more likely” or “much more likely” to patronize a business, restaurant, or shop if they are accessible by bikeshare.

“Some even said they would not go to these places – period – if there is no Capital Bikeshare station nearby,” Diggins added.
CaBi Economy
How is Capital Bikeshare impacting traffic in the region?
Eighty-four percent of members said they increased their bicycle use since joining the program. Eight percent sold a household vehicle and didn’t replace it, with 76 percent of those people saying Capital Bikeshare played an important role in the decision. More than half of the respondents who reduced their household vehicles now live in “car-free” households, having eliminated their only vehicle.

On average, members reduced 158 driving miles per year. That equates to 4.4 million miles of driving eliminated annually from the region’s roads.

Even when Capital Bikeshare members aren’t using the system to get to and from work, only 11 percent said their primary mode was driving alone. That’s pretty astounding compared to the regional average of 68 percent who primarily drive alone to work.

How much money do Capital Bikeshare members save by using the system?
On average, members save $13.65 per week on transportation costs. That equates to $710 per member per year. For members who make 11 or more trips per month, the average monthly savings ramps up to $1,002.
Collectively, members save $19.6 million per year on personal travel costs.

So, what’s next?
Ninety-one percent of members are interested in a single-card system that would allow them to check out bikes and ride public transit.

And a high percentage of members would like more docks at existing stations, more stations in residential neighborhoods, and expansion in areas where Capital Bikeshare is already operating.

To sum it up: yes, you are seeing more big red bikes these days. The expanding Capital Bikeshare system is helping people take notice that bikeshare is rapidly becoming a key element in building the transportation network of the future.

See more about the survey in Mobility Lab’s Research Catalog. Photo by Elvert Barnes. Charts courtesy of LDA Consulting.