Course Information

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

UAP-5794 Environmental Planning Studio: Capital Bikeshare

Instructor: Ralph Buehler

 In 2010, Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) started operation in Washington, DC and Arlington County.  The bike sharing system offers 1,100 bikes for rent at 110 bike kiosks spread throughout the District and Arlington.  This type of bike share system is still new in North America.  Little is known about users, usage patterns, motivations for bike sharing, and best practices elsewhere.

This studio group will be charged with two main tasks:

–          Learn more about daily users of CaBi (and compare this group to monthly and annual members);

–          Assess best practices in the operation of bike sharing systems elsewhere and identify lessons for Washington, DC.

Having successfully completed this course the student will be able to:

Analyze characteristics of bike sharing and bike share users;

  • Evaluate current strengths and weaknesses of bike sharing;
  • Analyze best practices in bike sharing and identify lessons for Washington, DC;
  • Assess the strength and weaknesses of intercept surveys and case study research;
  • Design intercept surveys and case study research;
  • Effectively communicate research findings.

Working in groups and weekly blog: This is a studio class and students will work in groups.  Each group will report the status of their work, progress towards goals, and next steps in our course blog website (  These weekly updates will facilitate communication across teams, allow us to trace progress, identify problems, and facilitate contact with the client.  Each group chooses one student as main point of contact.  The course website includes initial readings and background materials.  Besides meetings in person and the blog site, we will use VT Scholar for internal communication and to post materials.

Please note: As for all studio classes, our schedule is subject to change at any time, depending on shifts in our assignments/priorities.  Much of the work in developing, conducting, and analyzing the survey and bike share systems will be done in teams and will occur outside the classroom.  Our goal is to deliver a final product in early/mid December. It is your responsibility to define the product, set goals, and to identify the best way to get there.  The timeline provided further below is tentative.  However, the final report and presentation are due early December.

IRB certification: “Virginia Tech expects its faculty and student researchers who use human subjects in research to: (1) adhere to established personal (societal) ethical practices; (2) follow professional ethical principles established by their respective disciplines; (3) ensure full compliance with federal regulations governing protection of human subjects; and, (4) ensure full compliance with Virginia Tech policies and procedures which address protection of human subjects. Failure to comply with those four points may result in loss of privileges to conduct research at the University, and could result in loss of federal funding, or withdrawal of federal permission to conduct research affecting all researchers at the institution.”

Thus, all students enrolling in this studio class need IRB certification. Most of you already have that certification. Other should visit the Virginia Tech IRB tutorial and then complete the quiz to obtain certification:  It is important to obtain this individual certification before we apply for IRB certification of the entire project.  Thus please take the tutorial and test within the first two weeks of classes.

Grading: Grades for this class are based on class participation (25%), weekly blogs (15%), in-class case study presentations (20%), and the final presentation and report (40%).