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Capital Bikeshare gives wing to ‘Bike Angel’ reward program

Members can score points by bringing bikes to undersupplied stations

Capital Bikeshare bikes docked at a station
Nicole S Glass/Shutterstock

Capital Bikeshare members can now rack up reward points for riding bikes from crowded stations to empty or nearly empty ones by signing up for a new “Bike Angel” program. The program is meant to more efficiently distribute bikes across the Capital Bikeshare system, according to the operator.

“We know it can be frustrating when you can’t find a bike or dock when you need one,” Capital Bikeshare writes in an email to members on Tuesday. “While we do a lot to manage availability, we also want to give our members the chance to get involved and benefit from your effort.” Currently, the service has employees known as “rebalancers” who use vans to drive bikes between unevenly supplied stations.

Members can view which stations need more or fewer bikes on the Capital Bikeshare app, which displays points once members enroll in the program. The points update every 15 minutes so they “reflect the real-time balance of bikes and docks across the system and incorporate predicted flows of bikes,” says the operator.

But the points don’t change mid-trip. And “if a Bike Angel is ‘gaming’ the system (e.g. biking back and forth between two stations) these points will be vacated,” Capital Bikeshare warns.

Here are a few examples of how it works:

Bike Angel trip examples
Capital Bikeshare

As of today, the points can be redeemed for two types of monthly rewards: 24-hour guest passes for friends (worth 10 points) and free one-week membership extensions (worth 20). Capital Bikeshare says it will eventually roll out rewards based on “lifetime point totals.”

It is also running a monthly leaderboard for the program, so the highest-earning members can track their rankings with a unique Bike Angel ID. Top angels are to get special rewards.

Capital Bikeshare has about 4,300 bikes in circulation at more than 500 stations in the area.