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Capital Bikeshare turns 3

Bikes on bikes on bikes. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)
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Washington’s bike-sharing program turned 3 today. Capital Bikeshare has grown to encompass thousands of bikes spread across the District, Arlington and Alexandria, and the cherry-red bicycles are expected to surge into Maryland soon.

Capital Bikeshare — which, it must be noted, predated its blue peer to the north (ahem) — seems ubiquitous now. It began on Sept. 20, 2010, with scores of sturdy cycles spilling out from a lot near Nationals Park and heading to nearly 50 stations in the District and Arlington.

There are now more than 230 Bikeshare stations in the region. Most of those docks are in Washington along with dozens in Arlington and a handful in Alexandria.

“We’re constantly, perpetually expanding,” said Kim Lucas, who manages bike sharing for the D.C. Department of Transportation.

Bikeshare’s proliferation over the last three years has been considerable. There are currently about 22,000 Bikeshare members, Lucas said, and about 2,000 bikes on the streets at any given moment. (Two years ago, Bikeshare had about 18,000 members riding 1,100 bikes.)

Of course, this rapid growth has created some headaches for riders. Workers responsible for bringing bikes to empty stations and taking bikes from full stations (an act called “rebalancing”) have to keep up with the constant movement of bikes while navigating the region’s brutal traffic. As a result, stations in popular areas like Columbia Heights can be cleared out pretty quickly in the morning. (New York’s bike-sharing program has the same issues.)

Bikeshare continues to roll into the District’s suburbs. Stations came to the Columbia Pike and Shirlington areas of Arlington this year. And docks are scheduled to start popping up in Montgomery County in the coming weeks. About 20 bike stations with 250 bikes total will be installed in the Rockville and Shady Grove areas, while another 30 stations with 250 bikes total will be located at Red Line Metrorail stations inside the Capital Beltway.

To celebrate the anniversary, Bikeshare gave away hundreds of cupcakes in downtown D.C. and played a game of Bikeshare-centric trivia on Twitter: