How Capital Bikeshare Works for Tourists

Renting a bike is a great way to get around the city without breaking the bank. There are a number of bike rental companies in DC, but the cheapest and most convenient way to travel is through Capital Bikeshare. The city initiated this bike sharing program back in 2010, and up until NYC opened its bike share last year, it was the largest in the country. 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. Here are some tips on avoiding those fees and making the most out of your trip.



 How it works:

1. Guests choose between a 1-day ($7) or 3-day ($15) membership. For DC residents, there is also an annual plan with which members can choose to pay a one-time fee of $75 or pay $84 in monthly installments (equaling $7 per month). Members must be at least 16 years of age.

2. Pay with credit card, either online or at one of the Bikeshare stations, and immediately receive an unlocking code.

3. Pick up your bike! There are over 300 stations located around DC, Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery Co. All you need is to enter your unlocking code, wait for the green light on the bike rack to illuminate, grab, and then go!

4. Return your bike! This may seem obvious, but if you do not return your bike to a stand within 30 minutes of first removing it, you will begin to accrue fees. Fortunately, these fees are pretty low so going slightly over your 30 minute time limit will not cost you more than a few extra dollars. However, 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. Here is a chart of their pricing and fees.


How to Use Capital Bikeshare


Want to go somewhere that will require more than a 30 minute bike ride but also want to avoid any extra fees? 

Easy! Ride as far as you can within the 30 minutes, drop off your bike at a stand, and then pick up a different one and continue! You might want to check on the Capital Bikeshare App whether there are enough bikes or docks available at your next stop.

Get to the dock and all the racks are full?

Not a problem! There is an option on the kiosk for this situation. They’ll give you an additional 15 minutes to find another station. Just use your access code or the credit card you paid with to have the time added to your account.