Letter to the Editor: Myths about Bikeshare

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to recent letters criticizing the Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) program in the Alexandria Gazette Packet. Myths about CaBi seem to be spreading and I'd like to set the record straight.

Myth: Bicycling is frivolous — walking is just as good. Fact: Bicycling takes 1/4 of the energy of walking the same distance, and is typically 2-3 times faster.

This is why people who have discovered bicycling like it so much and do it so much. The 240 stations in the D.C./Arlington/Alexandria CaBi system move almost as many people daily as the DASH bus system. Surveys show that CaBi stations increase sales at nearby businesses.

Myth: People who already own bicycles won't use CaBi. Fact: CaBi speeds up the last mile from the transit station to the home or office. As a result, people who use CaBi with transit arrive faster than people who simply use transit.

Further, studies show increased bike sales in cities that have bikeshare.

Myth: CaBi could operate at no cost, just like Citibike in New York. Fact: New York's Citibike was only able to obtain a major sponsor because CaBi, the largest bikeshare system in the USA, was very successful. Because Citibike is still under construction, is is hardly an example for us to follow. CaBi is a proven success and Citibike is an experiment that has not yet begun — not the other way around.

Myth: CaBi is expensive. Fact: No public transportation system pays for itself.

Roads, sidewalks, buses, and rail only exist because we support them with property, income and other general taxes. In terms of capital and operating costs per person moved, CaBi puts Metro and DASH to shame. For example, the planned eight stations for Del Ray and Carlyle have a capital cost about equal to a single DASH bus.

Myth: CaBi funding could be redirected to non-transportation uses. Fact: CaBi capital and operating costs come from transportation-specific local, state or federal funds.

Jonathan Krall


Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee