Dockblocked in the District of Columbia: Is Capital Bikeshare Losing Out on Love in the Nation'S Capital?
Morrison, Donna R
Cities around the world have invested in infrastructure that allows them to launch largescalebikeshare systems to facilitate the use of a sustainable travel alternative forcommuters. This paper explores one such program: Capital Bikeshare (CaBi), based inthe Washington, D.C. metro area. A perennial problem faced by traditional bikeshareprograms is “dockblocking,” which refers to the inability of a user to check out a bicyclefor use or to find an open docking station for returning one. To avoid disincentivisingridership, bikeshare enterprises must take on the costly burden of rebalancing andredistributing bikes between stations.The goal of the present study is to identify the structural and demographic characteristicsof bikeshare docking station throughout the Capital Bikeshare system that are associatedwith “usability” (the absence of dockblocking) and “utilisation” (high levels of ridership).I combined hourly usage and utilisation data for the 2016 calendar year with geo-spatialcharacteristics (e.g., proximity to a metro station) and census-block-level structural anddemographic characteristics for each of 475 bikedocking stations throughout the D.C.metropolitan area. I use OLS regression models to test whether CaBi is meeting theusability needs of users and whether this is dependent on structural or demographicvariables.D.C. is an example of a city with a high directional peak flow of bicycles into thedowntown area in the morning and towards the periphery in the evening. Yet this highdirectional peak flow also presents a challenge for CaBi to ensure usability at bikesharedocking stations, resulting in the need to redistribute or rebalance bicycles amongstations. This study highlights, that while more effort needs to be put into maintainingusability of the bikeshare program around metro stations, the CaBi program is inclusiveand demographic factors do not play a large role in the usability of a docking station.Structural variables play a much larger role in both the usability and utilisation of thebikeshare program, particularly around peak commute hours. Placed in a city with a highdirectional flow of commuters, Capital Bikeshare is a successful model that other cities,that mirror such a layout and distribution of commuters, can adapt.