We already know that an overwhelming amount of Capital Bikeshare members are really happy to have this cost-saving, healthy, non-polluting, and auto-traffic-alleviating transportation option available in the Washington D.C. region. Now there’s yet another reason for them to love the system.
“You’re corralled,” Nate Graham tells a Capital Bikeshare rider pulling up into a roped-off section of sidewalk at the corner of New York Avenue and 13th Street NW.
Graham, a Capital Bikeshare spokesperson employed by goDCGo, welcomed bicycle commuters to the opening of one of two Capital Bikeshare Corrals. The service began May 14 in downtown D.C., offering morning bikeshare commuters guaranteed bike docking.
The corralling system, pioneered in Montreal, is fairly simple: Riders dock their bikes as normal, then attendants move them behind a roped-off area adjacent to the station as the docks reach capacity. It’s not quite valet bike parking, but feels like it.
Unlimited bikeshare parking between 7 and 11 a.m. will allow more people to commute via Capital Bikeshare to downtown Washington locations. Normally, ridership is limited during peak commute times because downtown stations fill up quickly in the morning.
“By providing essentially unlimited parking at these two docking stations, we’re removing one question from riders’ morning commute – where to park,” Graham said.
People who use the big red bikes have expressed gratitude for the new service. Kimberly Martin, an information technology professional who normally commutes by Capital Bikeshare to a station near Chinatown, said, “I’m willing to walk a couple of extra blocks to get guaranteed parking. Plus, I want to support this idea so [Capital Bikeshare opens] more corrals.”
Full stations aren’t just a problem for bikeshare members. Employees of Motivate, the company that operates Capital Bikeshare, face the daunting challenge of “rebalancing” bikes in the system – moving bikes from full stations to empty ones.
Motivate manager Kim Reynolds said the two downtown corrals would allow the drivers of the rebalancing vans to concentrate their efforts on other busy stations. “We expect the corrals will make the system work more efficiently,” Reynolds said.
Capital Bikeshare’s Washington D.C. corrals opened this week to coincide with Bike to Work week. The pilot program will continue weekdays through September.
All photos by the author.