The Wash
Braddock Road dock station

Bikeshare boom in Alexandria

Improved infrastructure and new technology led Capital Bikeshare to a big summer.

Capital Bikeshare is projected to break ridership records this year, according to a recent report.

Capital Bikeshare opened in 2010 to great fanfare, touting itself as the most extensive bike-sharing system in the country. CaBi has continued to add docking stations and improve infrastructure ever since.

“We are also looking at it through an equity lens,” said Sean Martin, Alexandria’s Capital Bikeshare project manager.

According to the report compiled by Martin, July and August both had 10% higher ridership than the previous high month of June 2017. May and June of this year were also among the top eight all-time. Martin believed part of the spike was due to the implementation of e-bikes in March.

“E-bikes are a great way to get around town. They are very easy to get moving and get up hills,” Martin said.

Blaine Maye, a student visiting from Oklahoma State University, said that while overall he enjoyed Capital Bikeshare, he avoided the new e-bikes. “I personally didn’t like it as much because I like having a rigorous workout,” Maye said.

Maye instead used the classic bike model as his primary mode of transportation during his visit. He found three factors that led to this preference.

“One, they’re conveniently located all over the city and very accessible; two, they’re really cheap—I don’t think I’ve taken one that was above $5; and three, it’s good exercise, so I’m maintaining my health,” Maye said.

Improving access

Martin identified increasing Capital Bikeshare’s community reach as an overall goal for the program. Initially concentrated in the affluent, touristy Old Town, “The city has been making an effort to expand access out to the West End,” Martin said.

City data showed in 2018, docking stations predominantly resided in the Old Town and Waterfront neighborhoods. Docking stations have since been added throughout the city.

bike stations expand west

E-bikes also help increase access as they do not require a dedicated docking station, according to Martin. He explained e-bikes can be securely locked to posts or fences, allowing residents who do not live by docking stations to use Capital Bikeshare.


Many, like Rob Charles, use their membership with CaBi to commute to and from work. Capital Bikeshare riders fall into two categories: members and casual riders. Members pay a flat annual rate, while casual riders pay per ride according to time and duration of the ride.

“I like it because it’s convenient and cheap,” Charles said.

While docking stations are scattered throughout the city, the ones closest to Metro stations had the highest traffic, according to city data. The Braddock Road station recorded the most terminated rides, with the King Street Metro dock placing third, according to city data. These docks work in concert with the Metro system to connect Alexandria with the rest of the region.

Metro adjacent docks can experience a 50% increase in rider volume during the week compared to the weekend among member riders, according to city data.

Digging into the data

The publicly subsidized bike-sharing program was heavily affected by COVID restrictions and lockdowns, according to data provided by Alexandria’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. The data showed ridership down 32% in 2020 and 2021 compared to the two years previous.

A graph showing a dip in ridership in 2020 and 2021

The city’s recent report featured a graphic showing daily trends in average rides per day which may be misleading. City data showed April through October to be historical peak months, with fall-off expected in November and December.

ridership peaks in the summers and dips in winters

While Martin still projected a record 2023 for CaBi, the average value displayed in the report may oversell the increase experienced so far in 2023. The current year has yet to have their overall averages dragged down by the remaining winter months.

Cameron Adams

Cameron Adams is an emerging journalist covering Alexandria, Virginia for the Wash. He is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Journalism at American University.

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