A new study of the second-largest bikesharing program in the United States has found that the deployment of the schemes in cities can significantly ameliorate urban traffic congestion.

capial bikeshare

The study by Resources for the Future, entitled Bicycle Infrastructure and Traffic Congestion: Evidence from DC’S Capital Bikeshare, examined the impact of the deployment of a large-scale bikesharing scheme upon levels of traffic congestion in the metropolitan DC area.

According to the study, the presence of a Capital Bikeshare dock within a given neighborhood reduces traffic congestion by as much as 2–3% on average.

The study also points to the possibility, however, that the presence of a bikeshare dock in one neighborhood can have a “geographic spillover” effect, increasing congestion in adjacent areas as drivers of automobiles pursue alternative routes to avoid cyclists on roads.

The study notes that bicycle infrastructure is likely to have an increasing impact upon urban transit systems given the expansion of bikesharing programs in cities throughout North America.

Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare program is a bicycle sharing system that was first deployed at the end of 2010, and was the largest scheme of its kind in the United States until the establishment of New York City’s Citi Bike network in May 2013.

The system has over 300 stations and 2,500 bicycles, covering Washington DC; Arlington County, Virginia; the city of Alexandria, Virginia; and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Capital Bikeshare recently unveiled plans to expand the program to a slew of iconic locations throughout the capital, including Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and Reagan Washington National Airport.

Bikesharing programs are seeing increasing popularity around the globe as a convenient, emissions-free alternative to the automobile that can both reduce vehicle traffic and improve health levels.

There are currently over 850 bikesharing schemes around the world, with more than 50 operating in the United States alone.

Image via Capital Bikeshare