They’re red. They’re sturdy. They’re affordable. They’re cappies.
For the past five days, I’ve been riding around Washington, DC, on Capital Bikeshare bicycles—or “cappies” for short. I rode on city streets and bicycle paths. On paved trails and gravel trails. I rode in the sun and the rain. And I loved it.
Here’s the way it works: Automated bike-share stations are scattered across the city. From any of these, you buy a membership for a day ($7) or three days ($15) or thirty ($25) which gives you an unlimited number of sub-30-minute bike rides anywhere in the greater Washington area. So long as you drop off the bike at any station in under 30 minutes, the rides are free. Beyond 30 minutes, you pay for 30 minute increments—$2, $6, $10. The idea is to take short urban trips, which is why they are perfect option for commuters.
We were amazed by the number of people riding the beasts. Most mornings, the cappie rack closest to our accommodation was fresh out of bikes by the time we ambled onto the scene. Cappie-commuters had been up at ‘em for hours. All we had to do, though, was walk a handful of blocks before finding a rack that still had bikes.
I imagine it’s the tourists, more so than the daily commuters, who use the bikes for trips longer than 30 minutes. But even so, you can keep your costs down. All you have to do is find a station on the bikeshare map, drop off one cappie, and grab another. By the end of the five days, we’d pretty much mastered the “ditch and switch” (a term that Jasper and I feel like we cleverly coined, but has probably been used since the dawn of bike shares). Other times, I took cappies out for two-hour jaunts; sure, I had to pay but it was much less than the cost of a rental bike.
It was Day 3 of my trip before I actually heard the bikes referred to as “cappies.” As Jasper and I cycled along the Capital Crescent Trail heading toward Bethesda, a grinning local hollered at me, “Hey, you’re doing the trail on a cappie! That’s crazy. Way to go.” I must admit, it made me feel a bit proud—in that maverick Albertan kind of way.
The next day, while we stopped to check a route map on the Mount Vernon trail, a runner dude asked how we were enjoying the cappies. He seemed pleased to know that his city’s bike-share program was being used by tourists as well as local commuters.
So next time you’re down DC way and see a Capital Bikeshare station, seize the day. Go for a cruise on a cappie.