Even the best-designed public transit systems often suffer from the “last mile problem”: the distance between final transit station and final destination might be too far to walk, which encourages people to drive instead. Bike-sharing can mitigate the last mile problem sustainably, cheaply, and without new transit infrastructure, but only if the bike-share stations are well located in relation to the metro stations. Cooperatrive metro-bike share systems have three characteristics: most metro stops are within walking distance of a bike share station, there are many bike-share stations outside of walking distance but within biking distance from the metro stations, and there are bike-share locations near residential areas that are not served by the metro. An analysis of data from the US Census Bureau, Capital Bikeshare, and District of Columbia Open Data shows that the coverage area of the metro-bike-share system is greater than the coverage area of the metro system alone. However, most of the added service area is within the District itself; the bike-share system does not significantly expand the coverage area of the metro system beyond its terminal stations in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. There are also coverage gaps inside the District that could easily be filled with additional bike-share stations, or perhaps by re-allocating stations from some of the disproportionately well-served metro stations. In total there are about 250,000 people living in high-density areas without access to either the metro or the bike-share system but within biking distance of the metro. The entire metropolitan area would benefit if adjustments to bike-share station allocation could capture even a fraction of those 250,000 last miles.
Bike-sharing the "last mile" in Washington, D.C.