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Keys to success for Washington, D.C. bikeshare program

The Capital Bikeshare program in Washington, D.C. has been one of the most successful bike share programs in the U.S. (Bossi/flickr/cc)

Capital Bikeshare’s kiosks are a familiar site in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area. Gabe Klein writes in Governing that this successful bike rental program had humble origins — and offers lessons for other cities.  

Keys to bikeshare’s success in Washington include its structure as a public-private partnership. Another important ingredient: Kiosks were introduced gradually. “It’s crucial for a system to be operationally sound, if not close to flawless, the first time a user tries it.” Klein reasons.

Today, the system has more than 350 stations in Washington and nearby suburbs in the states of Virginia and Maryland. That’s the second highest amount of kiosks of any bikeshare initiative in the U. S. Success wasn’t guaranteed. A smaller predecessor was shuttered partly due to inadequate planning.

Klein was actively involved in the creation of Capital Bikeshare as director of the city Department of Transportation in Washington from 2009 to 2011. He documents the program’s launch in his new book, Start-Up City, published this month. 


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