News & Politics

Shutdown Brings Business to Capital Bikeshare

Many residents suddenly have a lot of spare time, and it seems Capital Bikeshare is enjoying the benefits.

Full Bikeshare stations might be a rare sight as long as the government is shut down. Photograph by Flickr user Rich Renomeron.

Metro might be seeing lower revenues and running shorter trains these days, but the federal government’s shutdown might be having the opposite effect on another way to get around the area. Since the shutdown began, Capital Bikeshare has enjoyed some of its busiest days ever, with nearly 10,400 rides a day.

The day the shutdown started, 9,028 members took 10,367 rides, making it the busiest Tuesday in the history of the three-year-old bicycle-sharing system, and the 18th busiest day overall. Those figures were topped yesterday, when 9,104 members hopped on Bikeshare 10,393 times.

Capital Bikeshare is not saying if the spike in ridership is entirely tied to the shutdown—the weather’s been great this week, and Bikeshare does its best business in these conditions—but it seems plenty plausible. Hundreds of thousands of Washington-area residents suddenly have lots of free time to cruise around, and with Bikeshare’s recent expansion into Montgomery County, its potential membership base is as large as its ever been.

Bikeshare’s biggest day ever came back in April, when it recorded more than 11,000 rides on a Saturday full of tourists in town to gawk at the cherry blossom trees. With the shutdown likely to go at least another day, and the summer-like conditions forecasted to last through the weekend, Bikeshare could wind up being one of the few beneficiaries of government inaction.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.