A Visitor’s Guide to Bikeshares in Washington, DC
If you take a walk in downtown Washington, DC, you can’t help but notice all the bicycles! DC has become a bike-friendly city with more than 80 miles of bike lanes.
Visiting the city and want to feel the wind on your face? Bike sharing makes it easy to explore the city on two wheels.
There are at least seven bikeshare companies with wheels on the DC roads today, including 3-speed bikes, electric-assist bicycles, and electric scooters. There are two types of bikeshares: docking and dockless.
Ranked by how easy it is for a visitor to start pedaling, here are the options to hit the road under your own power.
1. Capital Bikeshare (docking bikes)
Capital Bikeshare’s docking bicycles are the most convenient for visitors. To use one, all you need is a credit card. And they are easy to find! There are more than 500 docking stations in the Capital Bikeshare system, which extends beyond the city limits into the DC metro area. You can return the bike to any dock in the system — no round trip necessary! Rent a Capital Bikeshare bike for $2 for a trip under 30 minutes, or $8 for a day pass. Visit the website for suggested scenic rides if you want to do more than get from Point A to Point B. You can also download the app to your smartphone, but you do not need a Capital Bikeshare account to use their bikes.
All of the following dockless bike and scooter companies require users to download their own app and create an account. Some companies require prepayment or even a deposit. If you want a bike with electric assist, or have the urge to ride a scooter on the streets of the nation’s capital, you might consider one of the following options.
2. Jump (dockless bikes)
Cheerful red Jump bikes look a little bulky, but that’s due to the motor! On these bikes, you can engage electric assist to help get up a hill, or if you just don’t want to get sweaty. Use the Jump app to find and reserve a bike near you up to an hour in advance. You can also rent a bike on the fly when you encounter one that is parked. Jump encourages users to park in unfenced “hubs” (found on their in-app map), but you can lock your bike anywhere in the system. Jump bikes rent for $2 each 30 minute increment.
3. LimeBike (dockless bikes and scooters)
Use the Lime app to locate a dockless, bright green Lime bike or electric scooter. When you find one, scan a QR code to start your rental. The Lime website has videos about how to use and park your Lime. Lime bikes and scooters rent for $1 for each 30 minute increment.
4. Ofo (dockless bikes)
The Ofo app indicates where you can find their bright yellow bikes. If you are traveling in a group, you are more likely to find multiple Ofo bikes in one of the recommended parking areas … but no guarantees. Rent an Ofo for $1 per hour increment.
5. Bird (dockless scooters)
Sophisticated in black and white with red accents, Bird’s dockless, electric scooters rent for $1 to start, and $0.15 per minute. Their website and app are both user friendly.
6. Mobike (dockless bikes)
Dockless silver and orange Mobikes rent for $1 for the first half hour. Mobike incentivizes good biking etiquette with credits. Be aware that if you get a moving violation, your Mobike score will drop, and your rate might go up the next time you want to rent one, even in another city. Mobike requires a one-time, refundable deposit to activate your account. Their website doesn’t say how much that deposit is, and the refund will take 10-15 days.
7. Spin (dockless bikes and scooters)
To use a dockless, electric Spin scooter, you have to download the Spin app and prepay $5 to activate your account. The pricing is unclear. One page of their website says it is $1 to unlock and $0.15 per minute of use. Another page says it is $1 for every 30 minute increment. But maybe the experience of riding an electric scooter in the nation’s capital is priceless!