Frequently Asked Questions

About Capital Bikeshare

What is Capital Bikeshare?

Capital Bikeshare is a bikeshare system, which is a form of public transportation by bike. It's a multi-jurisdictional system owned by the District of Columbia, Arlington County, Alexandria, Montgomery County and Fairfax County, and operated by Motivate. Learn more about Capital Bikeshare.

What is bikeshare?

Bikeshare is an innovative mode of transportation that allows users to make trips using publicly-available bikes. It consists of a fleet of specially-designed, sturdy and durable bikes that are locked into a network of docking stations throughout the service area. The bikes can be unlocked from any station and returned to any station in the system, making bikeshare ideal for short, one-way trips.

How should I use bikeshare?

Bikeshare is ideal for short rides and one-way trips. People use bikeshare to commute to work or school, run errands and get to appointments or social engagements. It can also be great for connecting to other modes of transportation – such as a commuter train or car rental location. Some people also use bikeshare to get exercise or take recreational rides around the city.

When should I use bikeshare vs. bike rental?

Bikeshare is ideal for short rides or one-way trips – getting from Point A to Point B. If you’d like to take a long ride (e.g., keep a bike out for an entire afternoon or day), it’s typically more cost-effective to rent a bike.

Do I need bikeshare if I have my own bike?

Definitely. Bikeshare is very useful even if you have your own bike. It’s ideal for one-way trips, when you wouldn’t be able to ride your own bike back home, or for when you're already out and decide that biking is the best way to get to where you're going. It also saves the hassle of having to carry around a bike lock and spares your bike from additional wear and tear.

How old do you have to be to ride Capital Bikeshare?

You must be at least 16 years to ride Capital Bikeshare.

How much does Capital Bikeshare cost?

There are different options for using Capital Bikeshare – you can join as an Annual Member, 30-Day Member, Day Key member, or purchase a Single Trip, 24-Hour Pass or 3-Day Pass. Please see the Pricing page for details.

Where can I ride Capital Bikeshare?

You can ride Capital Bikeshare on any public road, street or bikeway in metro DC, except where cycling is not permitted.

See Riding Tips for more information on cycling in the DC area.

What are stations, docks and kiosks?

A station is the row of bikes that can be found throughout metro DC. They are solar powered, and each station consists of a variable number of bike docking ports.

A dock is what holds each individual bicycle. The bicycles are locked into the docks and must be unlocked using a bike key or ride code. Each dock contains a slot for the bike key and a keypad where ride codes can be entered. Docks also have a red, yellow and green light. If a dock is showing a red light, it means that the bike is broken and cannot be unlocked.

A kiosk is the obelisk-shaped structure that can be found at each Capital Bikeshare station. The kiosk houses a touchscreen that can be used to buy passes, get ride codes and redeem gift certificates. It also provides information about how the system works.

Where are the stations?

Capital Bikeshare stations are located throughout Washington, DC; Arlington, VA; Alexandria, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and Fairfax, County, VA. They're placed based on a variety of factors and considerations, including population, nearby transportation, business districts and available space. Check out the System Map for the exact locations.

How many bikes and stations are there?

There are approximately 440 stations and 3,700 bikes throughout Washington, DC; Arlington, VA; Alexandria, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and Fairfax, VA. Check out the System Map to see the full Capital Bikeshare coverage.

How It Works

How does Capital Bikeshare work?

Capital Bikeshare is designed to be a convenient way to get around the DC area and is ideal for short rides and one-way trips. Join as a member online or buy a short-term pass at a kiosk to access more than 3,700 bikes across Washington, DC; Arlington, VA; Alexandria, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and Fairfax County, VA. Pick up a bike at any one of 440 stations whenever you need one and drop it off at any station when you’re done with your ride. Take as many rides as you want while your pass or membership is active. Visit How It Works to learn more.

How do the Capital Bikeshare bikes work?

Capital Bikeshare bikes are traditional bicycles that are designed for easy riding in many environments. They're built to be comfortable for riders between the heights of 5'0" and 6'5" with various riding abilities. To learn more, visit Meet the Bike.

Do the bikes fit everyone?

Capital Bikeshare bikes are built to be comfortable for riders between 5'0" and 6'5". There is a lever at the bottom of the seat post that allows you to adjust the seat up and down, and the numbered markings on the post help you remember your setting for next time.

To learn more about the bikes, visit Meet the Bike.

Don't forget: only people who are 16 years and older can ride Capital Bikeshare. If you're looking to ride with the whole family, please visit a local bike rental shop for children's bikes.

How do I take a bike out?

First, you need to become a member online or buy a pass at a kiosk to be able to use Capital Bikeshare – see the Pricing page for details. Then, find available bikes on the System Map.

If you're a member, you can insert your bike key into a dock to unlock a bike. If you purchase a short-term pass from a kiosk, you'll get a ride code, which you'll type into the keypad on the dock. Once you've successfully inserted your key or entered a ride code, the light on the dock will turn green. This means the bike is unlocked. To remove it from the dock, pull the bike out by the handlebar or lift the bike by the seat to release it.

To ride again while your pass is still active, just request a new ride code using the same payment card (don't worry, you won't be charged again).

How long can I keep a bike out?

The first 30 minutes of each ride are included in the membership or pass price. You can keep a bike out for longer, but usage fees apply to trips of 30 minutes or longer. Please see the Annual Membership, 30-Day Membership, Short-Term Passes or Single Trip pages for more pricing details.

Why do rides lasting longer than 30 minutes cost more?

Bikeshare is designed for short rides and one-way trips. Rides are limited in length to make sure that bikes are available for all users to “share” throughout the day. That’s why only trips under 30 minutes are included in the pass price, and why extra fees apply for longer trips – to encourage riders to use bikeshare for short trips and to return their bikes within this amount of time.

What are the fees if you keep a bike out longer than 30 minutes?

If you keep a bike out for 30 minutes or longer at a time, you will be charged extra usage fees for each additional 30 minutes. The usage fees differ for members and pass holders. Please see the Annual Membership, 30-Day Membership, Short-Term Passes and Single Trip pages for more information.

How do I return a bike?

You can return your bike to any station with an open dock – you don't have to bring it back to the station where you picked it up. Find available docks on the System Map or the Spotcycle mobile app. Line up the triangle located at the front of the bike with the dock and insert your bike gently but firmly. Wait until the light on the dock turns green to make sure it's locked.

How can I make sure my bike was docked correctly?

To dock a bike, line up the triangle at the front of the bike with the dock and push the bike firmly into the dock. The light on the dock will first show yellow. If it turns to green, it means you’ve docked the bike correctly and ended your ride.

If the light turns to red, it means that the bike was not docked correctly and is not locked. If no light appears at all, it means that the bike was not inserted correctly into the dock. If you get a red light or no light, remove the bike from the dock and push it back in to try again. If you're out on a ride and are having trouble docking a bike, please call Customer Service at 877-430-2453.

Can I ride a bike outside of the service area?

You can ride a bike outside of the service area, but it's a good idea not to go too far, since you will have to return to the service area to dock your bike. If you keep a bike out for 30 minutes or longer, you will incur usage fees. Please see the Annual Membership, 30-Day Membership, Short-Term Passes and Single Trip pages for more pricing details.

Annual & 30-Day Memberships

How much does a membership cost?

The cost of an Annual Membership is $85 (or $8/month with annual commitment), and a 30-Day Membership is $28. Please see the Annual Membership and 30-Day Membership pages for more details.

How do I sign up for a membership?

You can sign up for a membership through this website. Please see the Annual Membership or 30-Day Membership page for more details.

When does my membership begin after I sign up?

Your Annual Membership starts immediately upon purchase — you don’t need your bike key to ride right away. Just go to the kiosk at any Capital Bikeshare station, select “Rent a bike” and insert the credit card that is associated with your account. We’ll be able to identify you as a member and give you a single-use ride code. Once you get a ride code, type it into the keypad on a dock with an available bike to unlock the bike. To ride again before you get your bike key, insert the same credit card to get a new ride code.

When will I get my bike key?

If you received a key code to use at a fob-vending kiosk, you can pick up your key at any Capital Bikeshare station with this capability. Stations that offer fobs are indicated on the Station Map.

If you chose to have your key mailed to you when you signed up, it should arrive in about a week. Please contact Customer Service if you don't receive it.

While you're waiting for your key, you can still start riding right away! Just go to the kiosk at any Capital Bikeshare station, select “Rent a Bike” and insert the payment card that is associated with your account. We’ll be able to identify you as a member and give you a single-use ride code. Once you get a ride code, type it into the keypad on a dock with an available bike to unlock the bike. To ride again before you get your bike key, insert the same credit card to get a new ride code.

How do I activate my bike key?

When you receive a new bike key by mail, you must activate it before you can start using it. Log into your account online and click the link to activate your bike key. You’ll need the ID code on your bike key, which can be found right below the barcode. If you have any trouble, please contact Customer Service.

If you have received your key from a fob-vending kiosk at a station, your key is ready to use immediately.

How do I take out a bike with my bike key?

Insert your bike key into the slot in the dock – the light on the dock will turn yellow momentarily, and then green. When the light turns green, it means your bike is unlocked and you can pull the bike out from the dock. If the light turns red, remove your key, wait for the light to go out and try again.

If you’re inserting your key all the way into the slot but not getting any light at all, make sure that you have activated your key first. If you have already activated your key and you’re still having trouble, please contact Customer Service.

Can I ride even if I don't have my bike key?

Yes. You don’t need your bike key to ride! If you haven’t received it yet or forgot to bring it with you, go to the kiosk at any Capital Bikeshare station, select “Rent a bike” and insert the credit card that is associated with your account. We’ll be able to identify you as a member and give you a single-use ride code. Once you get a ride code, type it into the keypad on a dock with an available bike to unlock the bike. To ride again, insert the same credit card to get a new ride code.

Please note that if we see frequent switching between credit card and key, this alerts us to suspicious activity on your account and we may have to suspend your account. It's ok to occasionally use your credit card, but it's best to use the same method most of the time to unlock a bike.

Why do I need to keep an active credit card on file?

Every member must have an active credit card on file in case any usage fees are incurred for rides of 30 minutes and longer or for lost bikes.Please see the Annual Membership and 30-Day Membership pages for more details about usage fees.

If your billing information or address changes, or if your credit card is going to expire soon, please log into your account and update your billing info.

Can I lend my bike key to someone else?

No, Capital Bikeshare memberships cannot be shared and are not transferrable. It is also risky to lend your bike key to someone, because certain insurance protections apply to Capital Bikeshare riders, but these do not apply if someone else uses your bike key, even if they are family members. Additionally, if you lend your bike key out to a friend who incurs any usage fees or loses a bike, you will be responsible for the charges as the account holder.

Can I take out more than one bike with my membership?

You can only take out one bike with your Capital Bikeshare membership. If you’re with a friend who also wants to use Capital Bikeshare, you can purchase a pass from a kiosk.

How do I renew my membership?

When you sign up for a new Annual Membership, you are automatically enrolled in auto-renew to make sure there are no interruptions in your service. We will bill your card on file within 24 hours of the membership expiration date. If you have never turned off auto-renew, you don’t need to do anything to keep riding!

If you have turned off auto-renew in your account settings, you will have to manually renew your membership. Log into your account and click “Renew" under Current Membership Plan.

Day Passes & Single Trips

How much do passes cost?

A 24-Hour Pass costs $8 for 24-hour access to Capital Bikeshare and a 3-Day Pass costs $17 for 72-hour access – both include unlimited trips of up to 30 minutes (usage fees apply to longer rides). A Single Trip costs $2 for one trip under 30 minutes. Please see the Pricing page for more info.

How do I purchase a pass?

Passes can be purchased at any Capital Bikeshare kiosk, found at each station. See the System Map to find a station near you, and read the kiosk instructions to learn how to buy a pass and unlock a bike.

Which payment methods are accepted to purchase a pass?​

You can purchase a Capital Bikeshare pass using any Visa, Mastercard or American Express-branded credit or debit card. Prepaid cards are not accepted.

Why was my purchase rejected?

There are a few reasons why a purchase could be rejected:

  • You do not have sufficient funds in your account.
  • Your bank rejected the transaction.
  • You are trying to use a prepaid card.

If your card is rejected, please try another card or give us a call at 877-430-2453 and we'll do our best to help.

Can I purchase a new pass with the same credit card before my current pass expires?

No, you can’t purchase a new pass using the same credit card while you still have an active pass. For example, if you purchased a 24-Hour Pass and wanted to buy a second 24-Hour Pass before the first pass expired, you would have to use a different credit or debit card.

Can I take out more than one bike with a single pass?

No. If you'd like to take out multiple bikes at a time, you'll need to buy a pass for each rider. You can check out up to two bikes on one card at a time, but you will be charged for two passes.

How do I take out a bike with my pass?

If you purchase a 24-Hour Pass, 3-Day Pass or Single Trip through a Capital Bikeshare kiosk, you will get a 5-digit ride code. Type the ride code into the keypad on a dock with an available bike. Ride codes expire after 5 minutes and are for a single use only. If your ride code expires, or to ride again while your pass is active, insert the same credit card into the kiosk to get a new ride code. If you have rented multiple bikes on one card, you will receive one ride code that can be used to unlock all of the bikes. For more details, please see the kiosk instructions.

Can I use the same 5-digit ride code more than once?

No. Each 5-digit ride code can only be used for one ride. If you rented multiple bikes on one pass, the same ride code is used to unlock all of the bikes. To take another ride, you must request another ride code – just insert the same payment card that you used to purchase your pass into the kiosk and follow the onscreen instructions. (Don’t worry, you won’t be charged again.)

If you rented multiple bikes on one card, the same ride code is used to unlock all of the bikes each time you visit a kiosk.

Will I be charged again for a new ride code?

As long as you use the same payment card that you used to purchase your pass–and your pass is still active–you will not be charged again for a new ride code.

If you purchased a Single Trip, you will be charged for any additional Pass or Single Trip purchased after your ride is complete.

Can I buy a bike key instead of using ride codes?

Yes. You can purchase a Day Key membership for $10, which includes the cost of a key and your first 24-Hour Pass. You can buy additional 24-Hour Passes by inserting your key into a dock to unlock a bike, and we'll automatically charge $7 to your payment card on file.

How many times can I ride with my pass?

If you've purchased a 24-Hour Pass or 3-Day Pass, you can ride as many times as you want while your pass is active! Trips under 30 minutes are included in the pass price. If you keep a bike out for 30 minutes or longer at a time, usage fees apply. Please see the Short-Term Passes page for more details.

If you've purchased a Single Trip, you can only take one ride. Please see the Single Trip page for more details.

Corporate Memberships

Do we have to pay for all of the employees in our organization?

No, you only pay for the employees who sign up for your Capital Bikeshare Corporate Membership.

Is there a minimum number of employees?

No, companies of all sizes are welcome.

Is there a sign-up fee to become a Capital Bikeshare Corporate Member?

No, there is no sign up fee to join the Capital Bikeshare Corporate Membership Program, only the cost of the membership.

How do we verify an employee’s eligibility?

You can require a company email address and/or a password to sign up for your organization's Corporate Membership. When someone signs up using your company’s promo code, you'll receive an email alert.

If you don't recognize the individual as an employee of your company, email us at corporateportal@capitalbikeshare.com within three business days and we'll remove them from your invoice.

What happens when an employee leaves the company?

Their membership will remain active until its expiration date. If they renew their membership the following year, they will have to select a different type of account.

What happens when employees are already members?

We are not able to issue corporate discounts retroactively, but if the employee renews their membership, they will be eligible for the discounted corporate rate.

Does bikeshare qualify as a pre-tax commuter benefit?

No. At this time, IRS tax code does not recognize bikeshare as eligible for commuter benefits. We hope that as bikeshare becomes more popular, this will change in the future.

Can our employees get a discount on Capital Bikeshare memberships without a contribution from the company?

No, discounts are only available when the company contributes to the employee’s annual membership fee through their Corporate Membership.

Can we purchase one bike key to share among employees and visitors?

No. Each Capital Bikeshare membership must belong to one individual. Per the Capital Bikeshare user agreement, keys cannot be shared.

Can we save money by purchasing daily or monthly memberships for our employees instead?

Corporate discounts are only available for Annual Memberships, the most cost-effective membership type. 24-Hour Passes are available for bulk purchase, but do not provide the same value.

Can a representative from Capital Bikeshare present to our employees?

Yes. A representative from your Capital Bikeshare jurisdiction can share educational materials and present to your employees about how to use the system. See our Corporate Membership Program page for more information.

Financial Assistance Programs

What programs are available for those who need financial assistance?

There are several programs offered in conjunction with Capital Bikeshare to make the system accessible to residents in need. Please see the Financial Assistance Programs page for more information.

How do I know if I'm eligible for a discounted membership?

The criteria to qualify for a discounted membership depends on which jurisdiction you live in. Please see the Financial Assistance Programs page to explore the options and learn more.

How do I sign up for a discounted membership?

The way to sign up for a discounted membership depends on which jurisdiction you live in and which program you qualify for. Please see the Financial Assistance Programs page to explore the options and learn more.

Safety

Is Capital Bikeshare safe?

Yes. While there can be risks with any mode of transportation, bikeshare has proven to be a very safe way to travel. Capital Bikeshare bikes are built for stability and durability, rather than speed. The bell and movement-activated lights also make the make bikes more visible to people driving and other people biking. Our team of mechanics regularly perform preventative maintenance and repairs as needed. Of course, it is always recommended that riders wear helmets to greatly reduce the risk of head injury should a crash occur.

Do I have to wear a helmet?

No, bike helmets are not required for adults in the metro DC area. However, Capital Bikeshare always recommends wearing a helmet for riders of all ages. Members of Capital Bikeshare can save 10% on a helmet at participating retailers – see the Member Perks page for more information.

Is there anything I should do before starting a ride?

Before each ride, always be sure to adjust the seat to a comfortable height. It’s also a good idea to squeeze the brakes to make sure there’s good resistance and to check the tires to make sure they’re not flat. Please see our Riding Tips for more pre-ride suggestions.

How do I ride safely?

There are a few cycling laws and other riding tips that all riders should follow to help ensure a safe ride:

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Follow all traffic signs and signals.
  • Yield for pedestrians.
  • Don't ride on sidewalks where restricted, and yield to pedestrians if you do choose to ride on the sidewalk.
  • Never ride distracted – pull over if you have to use your phone.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Use hand signals when turning, and do not to weave in and out of traffic.

Please see our Riding Tips section for more safety information.

Troubleshooting

What should I do if my ride code isn't working?

If you’ve entered your code correctly into the keypad on the dock and the light on the dock isn’t turning green, there may be a few reasons why your ride code isn’t working:

  • The light on the dock is red → this means the bike is broken and can’t be unlocked.
  • Something is wrong with the dock → occasionally, the technology on the dock may fail; if there's an issue, please let us know by calling 877-430-2453.
  • The ride code expired → codes are only valid for five minutes for security purposes.

If your ride code hasn’t expired, try the same code again on a different dock with an available bike. If it still isn’t working, you can request a new code from the kiosk – just insert the same payment card again to get a new ride code (don’t worry, you won’t be charged again).

What should I do if my bike key isn't working?

There are a few reasons why your bike key may not be working:

  • It hasn’t been activated → you must activate your bike key through your account before you can use it.

  • You have an open rental → if you haven’t returned your last bike, you won’t be able to take out a new bike.

  • Your billing info is outdated → you must have an active credit or debit card on file in order to use Capital Bikeshare; if your card expired or became invalid, your bike key may have been deactivated.

  • You aren’t inserting your key correctly in the dock→ make sure you’re inserting your key all the way into the slot in the dock; if you’re getting a light on the dock, it means your key is working.

If you’ve checked all the reasons above and are still having a problem with your key, please contact Customer Service for a replacement. A $10 replacement fee applies.

What should I do if my bike key gets lost or stolen?

Please call Customer Service at 877-430-2453 as soon as possible to deactivate your bike key and prevent fraudulent use. Any usage, service, damage or stolen bike fees incurred by your bike key before you have reported it as lost or stolen will be your responsibility.

You can place an order for a new bike key through Customer Service for a replacement fee of $10.

What does a red light on a dock mean?

A red light on a dock with a bike means that the bike is broken and cannot be used again until it’s been fixed by a Capital Bikeshare technician. Sometimes friendly riders will turn the seat of a broken bike backward, so it’s easy to spot from afar and you don’t waste your time walking up to it. A red light on a dock without a bike means that there is a problem with the dock and it cannot accept bike returns.

If you ever take out a bike that has an issue, please return it to the closest dock and hit the button on the dock with the wrench symbol.

What should I do if there’s a problem with my bike?

If there’s a problem with your bike, please dock it at the nearest station and press the red button on the dock with a wrench symbol on it. This will turn the light on the dock red so no one else can use the bike before our technicians can fix it. You can also turn the seat backward on a red-lighted bike, so members can see from afar that it’s not available.

What should I do if I can’t dock my bike?

If you’re having trouble docking a bike, please try a different dock first. Make sure you’re pushing your bike all the way into the dock. If holding the bike and pushing from the handlebars isn’t working, some people find it easier to push the bike in by the seat, while holding only one handlebar to guide the bike.

If you’re still having trouble, please call Customer Service at 877-430-2453. Whatever you do, don’t just leave a bike if you can’t dock it – you could be charged usage fees if your bike isn't docked within 30 minutes, or charged a lost bike fee of $1,200 if your bike is not docked within 24 hours.

I docked my bike, but I got a red light and now the bike will not release. What do I do?

If you attempt to dock your bike and receive a red light, and cannot get the bike to release, please call Customer Service immediately at 877-430-2453. They will dispatch a team member to release the bike and end your trip.

It is important to call right away if this should occur, to create a record for our Operations team and prevent you from being charged usage fees.

What should I do if I need to return my bike and the station is full?

If there are no available docks at the station you’d like to use, you can find a nearby station on the Spotcycle mobile app or the kiosk. If you’re nearing the 30-minute ride limit, we’d be happy to offer you an extra 15 minutes to find a dock. Go to the kiosk at the full station, select "Press for More Options" then "Time Credit."

What should I do if I can’t find a bike when I need one?

If there are no bikes available at the station you’d like to use, you can find nearby stations with bikes on the Spotcycle mobile app or the System Map. You can also find nearby station status information by using the kiosk found at any Capital Bikeshare station.

What should I do if I crash my bike?

If you are injured, call 911 immediately. You should also call the police precinct where the crash took place and file a report with an officer to make sure that all important information is documented.

Within 24 hours of the incident, you must also notify Capital Bikeshare of the facts of the crash by calling Customer Service at 877-430-2453 and speaking with a representative. We will provide you with a Crash Report to fill out.

The bike remains your responsibility until it has been properly locked at a dock or handed over to a Capital Bikeshare representative. If you aren’t able to dock your bike, please call Customer Service and we will send someone over to help you.

What should I do if my bike gets lost or stolen?

If your Capital Bikeshare bike is lost or stolen, please call Customer Service immediately at 877-430-2453. You must do this within 24 hours. We will provide you with a Theft Report form to fill out. Please also call the police precinct where the incident occurred and file a police report within 24 hours.

Your payment card may be charged for the cost of recovery or replacement of the bike, up to $1,200.

What should I do if I find an abandoned bike?

If you find an abandoned bike, please call Customer Service right away at 877-430-2453. We will send a team member to retrieve the bike ASAP.

What should I do if I lose or find something at a station or on a bike?

To report a lost or found item, please call Customer Service at 877-430-2453. Capital Bikeshare members are responsible for all personal belongings during rides/trips. Neither Capital Bikeshare nor the operator maintain any responsibility for replacement of lost/missing customer items.