chriszee asked: Hi Jacques! I always enjoy your posts about your morning commute and you've gotten my thinking about switching up how I get to work. Recently, I tried out Capital Bikeshare for three days and I'm absolutely enamored of cycling. As someone who started out with a CaBi bike membership, what are your thoughts are on buying a monthly vs. annual membership vs. getting my own bike from the get-go. Thanks for any thoughts and all the beautiful pictures of my favorite city!
I’m glad you enjoy the commute posts. (They help me stay alert and look for things to observe)!
And thanks for asking me about one of my favorite topics — Capital Bikeshare (the “gateway drug” of biking).
My biking journey (18 months in):
Personally, I jumped in with an annual CaBi membership, and slowly accumulated some gear (helmet, gloves, and comfortable clothes to ride in — though I didn’t, and don’t feel the need for any type of “biker-chic” or Lycra-brigade attire, with the exception of a bright yellow jacket for visibility in the early morning or evening hours).
I started riding in the fall 2010 with CaBi—after not having ridden a bike in DC for over 5 years, and my riding tailed off (but didn’t stop) during the winter. After I’d been riding for a few months, I had a good sense of the kind of riding that I did and what kind of bike I was interested in. In my case, I decided that I wanted to commute to work on a bike most days. I ended up getting a used Trek Hybrid for $240 in Bike&Roll’s semi-annual inventory sale, and it has served me well. To be honest, I could have spent $500 or more on a new bike, and it would still be a worthwhile investment in terms of savings on bus/metro fare. But it was best to get used to biking in the city before deciding what type of bike to buy.
Membership types: definitely go annual
In terms of whether to go with a monthly versus annual membership, I would definitely suggest the annual (at $75, its the same cost as three monthly memberships). Even though I have my own bike now, I still find myself taking a bikeshare across the city for a mid-day dentist appointment, a one-way trip to a happy hour, or, like today, a ride home when I didn’t take my bike in. And if you use CaBi twice a week, it comes out to less than a dollar per ride.
Many people who use CaBi as their main method of commuting eventually get frustrated that it’s not particularly well set-up to guarantee a personal bike for commuting each day (and it’s also a really heavy bike to ride). Some people just get jaded, but others find that it works best as a complement to a personal bike.
When it does come to buying your own bike, there are a lot of great bike shops in town. I have had repair work done or bought accessories from both Revolution Cycles and BicycleSpace, and they both have awesome customer service and don’t look down on people who aren’t super experienced cyclists. BicycleSpace in particular, runs several social rides per week, and they’ll let you try out one of their bikes on the rides, as you’re trying to figure out what to buy.Tweet
Lots of traffic on K Street this morning, possibly backed up due to motorcades headed to the National Prayer Breakfast…
So happy I could get off the bus and jump on a bikeshare bike for the rest of the commute in.Tweet