How Capital Bikeshare’s Ebikes Boost Equity For Low-Income Residents

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Henry Dunbar Tweet Us @BikeArlington@BikeArlington July 28, 2020

Henry Dunbar is the Director of Operations for Active Transportation. He is a year-round bike commuter and wants to make it easy for everyone to get around by whatever mode they choose, except driving alone which should be harder.

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Capital Bikeshare for All membership benefits just got a whole lot better with the ebike reintroduction in the region.

Capital Bikeshare electric-assist bikes (ebikes) were recently rolled back out onto the streets of Arlington, and the region, after more than a year’s absence. The bikes can be easily accessed and operated as highlighted by Arlington Transportation Partners. This is great news for Capital Bikeshare Members and casual riders, however, the biggest beneficiaries of the new hybrid bikes could be those who qualify for Capital Bikeshare for All (CaBi for All) memberships.

Capital Bikeshare for All Ebikes

Capital Bikeshare for All Gives Greater Ebike Access

No Additional Cost

Regular members have to pay a $1 “unlocking fee” for each trip on an ebike, but this fee will be waived for Capital Bikeshare for All members. All trips regardless of what kind of bike will be covered under the $5 annual fee. The Capital Bikeshare for All program was announced in February and allows a $5 annual membership for anyone receiving assistance under several low-income social safety net programs. It is an expansion of the Community Partners Program, which was previously only available to clients of member nonprofit organizations or government programs.

Free Hybrid Out-of-Station Locking

One limitation of the station-based bikeshare is that many people who qualify for the Capital Bikeshare for All membership often live far away from stations, making it a less-useful transportation option. That could be especially frustrating when arriving at your destination, short on time, and finding the station full. The new ebikes have a cable on the rear fender that allows the bike to be locked to any regular bike rack. For regular members, this convenience costs $1. It is free for Capital Bikeshare for All members.

As long as the bike is locked up to a rack within the service area, there will be no charge. Locking up outside this area, or in a restricted space like National Parks Service land, will result in a $25 charge for all riders, regardless of membership type.

To monitor this, riders are strongly encouraged to use the Capital Bikeshare app to see the map and get instant notifications about out-of-zone parking.

Free Riding Time

Additionally, CaBi for All members get 60 minutes of free ride time on every trip, not the usual 30 minutes that regular members receive. While this applies to both styles of bikes, this one-hour feature gives ebike riders a much greater range in trip distance. A user can easily travel 10 miles on an ebike without much effort in an hour. This potential allows riders to “take the long way” if they need to or makes a trip from the Arlington Mill Community Center to Capitol Hill feasible.

Sign-up To Get Moving On An Ebike

Reducing costs on the ebikes, allowing riders to lock ebikes away from docks, and extending the free time allowed on the bikes are some ways that Capital Bikeshare has ensured its most vulnerable users benefit the most from the ebike expansion. Personal ebikes often cost thousands of dollars at a minimum, and so the Capital Bikeshare ebikes provide regional bicyclists with the chance to experience and use this technology for more comfortable rides without spending a lot of money—and the CaBi for All program ensures that benefit is as equitable as possible by not cost-burdening people already receiving assistance under low-income social safety net programs.

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