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Surveys: Many Bikeshare riders wouldn't have driven

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Local,DC,Transportation,Kytja Weir,Arlington,Alexandria,Montgomery County,Metro and Traffic

Capital Bikeshare is saving cash and time for its riders, making them healthier while also taking cars off the roads and spurring economic development, according to two new surveys of riders.

But the service appears to be having an unintended result of shifting some riders away from walking or transit, not just reducing car traffic, according to the surveys released by the service on Wednesday.

The nation's largest bikesharing system is expanding the reach of riders, making a distance too far to walk reachable, members reported. It is also connecting them to Metro stations and other parts of the region -- faster.

Only a few bikes stolen
Capital Bikeshare has shiny red bikes on street corners all over the region, with plans to expand. But those cherry red numbers haven't been stolen very often in the District, Arlington or Alexandria.
Only 15 bikes are missing out of the 1,900 bikes ordered for the bikesharing service since it began in fall 2010, according to Capital Bikeshare officials.
About 40 have disappeared for short periods but usually turn up after a few days, bikeshare officials said Wednesday. Of those, only 15 never came back. For comparison, 1,797 bikes were reported stolen in the District last year, according to D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department.
--Kytja Weir

But the ease and density of the system's docking stations also mean that riders are using the bikes instead of taking transit or taxi trips, or walking. A total of 44 percent said they would have taken public transit, 38 percent would have walked and 6 percent would have taken a cab if they did not have the bikes.

Overall, 61 percent of riders reported using Metrorail less, 52 percent reported using the bus less often and 50 percent said they drove less often.

"Yes, Metro doesn't get as much money, taxis don't get as much money. But other businesses do," said Lori Diggins, a consultant who surveyed the riders.

The report found that 85 percent of Capital Bikeshare riders said they were more likely to frequent an establishment accessible by Bikeshare. And Diggins said riders may have more money to spend there, as members reporting saving an average of $15 per week on transportation costs.

A separate study by George Washington University graduate students found that members reported increasing their weekly exercise after joining Bikeshare, with 30 percent reporting a weight loss and more than a quarter reporting a better physique.

This came even though the majority of trips are less than 1.5 miles, according to the study.

The health survey noted that bike share members are likely healthier already than the general population given their interest and ability to use the service. They are also disproportionately younger, higher earners and more likely to be white and male than the general population.

The bikes are available in the District, Arlington and Alexandria, but the system is slated to expand this summer to Montgomery County.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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