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Renting a bike is a great way to get around the city without breaking the bank or sitting in traffic.

There are a number of bike rental companies in DC, but the cheapest and most convenient way to travel is through Capital Bikeshare.

Here are some tips on how to use it, avoiding additional travel fees and making the most out of your trip.


The bikes are easy to use, well maintained and conveniently located. However, if you don't understand how the system works, it's easy to accidentally accrue extra fees.


There are a few options based on how many times and how long you want to ride.

Single Ride: $1 to unlock and then $0.05/minute or $0.15/minute on an ebike. There are additional fees for longer usage but if you plan on using it for more than 90 minutes it s more economical just to get a Day Pass.

Day Pass: $8 for 24 hours, rides under 45 minutes are always free. There are additional fees for longer usage.

Free Tours of Washington, DC

If you'll be here longer you can also look into 30 Day and Annual Membership plans. You'll get a convenient key fob that lets you skip the kiosk and unlock a bike with a quick swipe.

Get more information about these options here.


Pay with credit card, either online or at one of the Bikeshare stations, and immediately receive an unlocking code. Capital Bikeshare is also integrated into the Lyft app, so you can select a bike and pay through the app as well.

STEP 3: Pick up your bike!

There are over 600 stations located around DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Prince George's County, Fairfax County, the City of Falls Church, and Montgomery County.

All you need is to enter your unlocking code, wait for the green light on the bike rack to illuminate, grab, and then go!

Capital Bikeshare Dock

STEP 4: Return your bike!

This may seem obvious, but if you opt for a 1-day membership and do not return your bike to a stand within 45 minutes of first removing it, you will begin to accrue additional fees.

Make sure when you dock the bike that you wait to ensure the light turns green. A yellow light means the bike isn't locked properly and thus is not considered returned.

Fortunately, these fees are pretty low so going slightly over your 45-minute time limit will not cost you more than a few extra dollars.

Be careful not to confuse your 1-day membership with having access to one bike for a full 24 hours; you have access to the bike sharing program for a full 24 hours, but not to a single bike. 

Capital Bikeshare Station Map

What to do if the bike rack is full? If you get to the bikeshare station you want to drop off at but there are no available docks, don't worry.

You can go to the Kiosk and request a Time Credit for an additional 15 minutes for free that will allow you to get another dock that has available spaces.

Here is a chart of their pricing and fees.

INSIDER TIP: You might want to check on the Capital Bikeshare App whether there are enough bikes or docks available at your next stop.


Capital Bikeshare is a great way (and what most of us use) to get around for quick trips or touring outside the immediate downtown/National Mall area.

There are other bike rental options, many of which coincide with bike tours of popular monuments and memorials.

Bike tours in Washington DC are not only a popular family activity, they are also very affordable. On average, ticket prices range from $40-$45 for adults and $25-$30 for kids.

In other words, a family of four can expect to pay about $125-$150 for the trip.

Although families were among the most likely customers to leave a positive review, it’s worth noting that complaints focused largely on overbooked tours.

In the event that a public bike tour is too crowded, you should consider a private tour instead.

Find out more about other bike rentals and bike tours of DC here.

Washington DC Travel Tips and Hacks

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: January 18th, 2023
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