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10 Hacks to Bikeshare Like a Pro

Jonathan Boldes
Jonathan Boldes January 31, 2018 Jonathan Boldes is a former Senior Business Development Manager at Arlington Transportation Partners.
ATP Takeaway: Learn the ins and outs of Capital Bikeshare and share the knowledge with your friends and coworkers. You can also get corporate membership for your company.

Capital Bikeshare continues to expand throughout Arlington County and the DC metro area and for good reason. The red bikes offer an outstanding way to commute, head out to lunch or even just take a ride to get a break from the office.

The system itself is relatively self-explanatory but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hidden tricks that Capital Bikeshare pros eventually learn. We’ve tried to line them out below so you can show off to your friends how awesome and knowledgeable you are after learning these hacks.

Capital Bikeshare Station People Walking


1. Download the Capital Bikeshare App

We’d probably refer to this as more of a necessity than a “hack." If you haven’t downloaded the free app that lets you find where docks and bikes are located and how many are available, you are doing it wrong. Seasoned Capital Bikeshare members know you don’t leave the house without checking the stats.

2. Dock Surfing (AKA Daisy Chaining)

Since Capital Bikeshare users begin to incur usage fees after the first 30 minutes, many regular riders know to end their trip in that allotted time. However, if you need to ride farther than expected, you can stop at a dock on your way and “dock surf” by locking in your bike then checking it out again.

3. Forgot Your Key? No Problem

Capital Bikeshare recently implemented the ability for you to use the credit card associated with your account to check out a bike. This can be a life saver when you forget your keys at home but still need to travel on two wheels. Simply use the kiosk at a bike station, slide in your credit card and you’ll be prompted with a code to check out a bike. Use that number (a series of 1s, 2s and 3s) to enter at any of the available bike docks and away you go!

4. Wait a Few Minutes

It’s not always a bad idea to hold out for a few minutes when you reach a full or empty station. The previous statement is especially true during rush hour when thousands of bikes are being moved around the system at regular intervals.


5. When It's Nearing Your 30 Minutes but There Aren't Any Available Docks

If a bike dock is full, you can request an additional 15 minutes of riding by using the kiosk at the full station and either entering your key number or simply using the credit card associated with your account. Check the Capital Bikeshare app for the nearest station to ride to, as most stations are relatively close to one another. You may also have someone walk up and check out a bike before you can finish using the kiosk!

6. Discounts, Discounts, Discounts

Annual key holders are given a 25% discount on all usage fees incurred while riding. That means the second 30 minutes of riding cost a mere $1.50 rather than the normal $2.00. Fifty cents might not seem like much, but $1.50 for an hour ride on Capital Bikeshare costs you less than the $2.00 bus fare.

7. Pull the Bike Out with Ease

You may have the immediate urge to pull a bike by the handlebars when first checking out a bike. That makes the most sense right? I personally find it much easier to lift the back of the bike up by the seat. The motion of lifting the bike easily slides it out of the locking mechanism and keeps you from pulling a muscle from angrily tugging at the handlebars.

8. The Bells and Whistles (and Seat and Gears)

Many parts of your bike are useful and adjustable to make your trip more comfortable and safe.

Man Riding Capital Bikeshare Closeup

Adjust your seat

Make sure when riding that you have your seat set to your preferred height. You’ll see the height indicator marked by numbers on the seat post (the silver bar that holds up the seat), and eventually you’ll realize what setting you prefer. You can adjust the seat height by loosening the clamp and adjusting up and down – just make sure to retighten the clamp before sitting down!

Change gears

The gear shift is on the right handlebar and allows for three different speed settings. Generally, you will want to ride in the third gear to get up to a decent speed. Gears 1 and 2 are mostly useful for hills and when you first start pedaling.

Ring your bell

The bike’s bell is located on the left handle and is rung by spinning the plastic disk with your thumb. It takes a bit of getting use to at first but is an invaluable tool to warn pedestrians and drivers of your presence.

9. Corporate Memberships

Your employer can subsidize Capital Bikeshare memberships by signing up for a corporate program that reduces the annual cost from $85 to $50. They can even choose to subsidize the membership as an employee benefit at no cost to you! For more information, please contact us.

10. Use the Transit App Nation-Wide

You can use the Transit App to find bikes from Capital Bikeshare as well as all the dockless bikeshare systems in the DC Metro region. it's not just limited to here though, you can use it nation-wide by switching the city settings in the app. This is especially useful if you decide to do a day membership when traveling to other places and still want to know where all the bikes and docks are located!

If you haven’t already joined the system, check to see if your organization offers discounts for membership or sign up yourself at If you want your organization to offer subsidized memberships, make sure to shoot us an email and we’ll help out! 

Contact Us | Arlington Transportation Partners

Editor's Note: This blog was first published in August 2016 and has been republished with updated information written by Christy Lee.

Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/

Tags: Bike, Hacks


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