Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Capital Bikeshare Cost Recovery in Arlington, VA

How did Arlington’s portion of Capital Bikeshare do in its second year of service? Are Arlingtonians and visitors using the service? How many trips are made and how much was spent? These questions and a lot more are discussed in Arlington County’s “FY12 Summary Report on Capital Bikeshare”. The report’s highlights include the service’s continued cost recovery growth, annual key indicator data, member survey analysis, and accomplishments.

Not to spoil the conclusion for you, but yes, the service had a good year. The County expanded Capital Bikeshare throughout the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor during this time period, more than doubling its number of stations from 18 to 41 and bikes from 123 to 286. With the additional stations and bikes came an increased cost recovery ratio – the percentage of revenues divided by expenses. Fiscal Year 2011 had a 53% cost recovery ratio and FY12 saw an increase to 64%. 

Arlington’s portion of the service had $411,000 in revenues from memberships, user fees, and sponsorships and $473,000 in operations expenses, plus $170,000 in management and marketing – totaling $643,000 in expenses. The number of trips starting and ending in Arlington increased by about 280% to 88,613 (trips starting) and 86,438 (trips ending). The number of miles ridden in Arlington increased 343% to about 95,000 miles, which helped remove nearly 64,000 pounds of CO2 from the air. The service also got us more active and we burned over 4.1 million calories to be fit.

The Report also discusses our accomplishments, such as our partnership with Bank on DC, Transit Development Plan, map panels design updated, marketing campaign, and call center improvements. The report can be found online at

(cross-posted on

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bycyklen is Dead. Long Live Bycyklen!

The City of Cyclists won't be modernizing its bike-sharing service any time soon due to a decision by the Copenhagen City Council. They recently voted not to fund a modernization of one of the earliest bike-sharing services, Bycyklen, which was born in 1995 and is still in operation. Rather than smart cards and solar stations, this service uses a coin deposit lock and the honor system which had worked reasonably well in its early years, but hasn't been maintained properly by its present operator -- AFA JCDecaux. 

According to The Copenhagen Post, Ayfer Baykal, Copenhagen's deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, "defended the city’s decision not to invest in the cycle sharing scheme this year.
“They’re junk, I agree with [the Danish Cyclist Federation] on that issue. The city bike scheme, as it exists today, needs to be updated. It is old and outdated. But right now we need to prioritize.”
Deputy Mayor Baykal continues, “The city bike scheme is primarily for people coming from outside the city because Copenhageners have their own bicycles. I have chosen to prioritize better cycling conditions in Copenhagen through improved bicycle lanes and bicycle parking instead of the bicycle sharing system.”

What better way to help tourists experience the city than the way Copenhageners do - by bike? If a Bycyklen or other bike-share bike isn't available to a tourist, he or she could just as easily use a taxi or rent a car. To the environment, it doesn't matter whether the pollution comes from a resident or a tourist, but rather that the pollution is created. Also, tourists are the most profitable user segment as they contribute more financially than residents do through day membership or per minute fees.

While Copenhageners are bike-friendly, do they always bring their bike with them? I too live in a city with a growing bike mode share and frequently go by bike, but sometimes I just don't have my bike with me. The local bike-share service, Capital Bikeshare, frequently helps me get from point A to point B. I could otherwise take the train or drive.

The 150 million Danish kroner (26 million USD) will instead be used to make cycling improvements in the city, which is not a bad second place project, however, a piece of reality in how local governments are stretched thin for funding for many deserving projects. Additionally, the end of Bycyklen is near as the contract with AFA JCDecaux for the service expires October 31. Not sure what will happen after that with bike-sharing.

On a personal note, Bycyklen got me interested and excited about bike-sharing back in 1995 as I read about the new Bycyklen on-line and went to Copenhagen for a semester abroad to learn about bike-sharing and this quaint modern bike-friendly city which I, in turn, fell in love with. I was back last year in a professional capacity to work with the Cities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg and DSB in developing the public tender for a new operator and vendor. Hopefully the Council will see the value of modernizing the bike-sharing service not only to regain a worldwide leadership in bike-sharing that it once had.