D.C. Bike-Sharing Program Launches Today, First in the USA

Smart Bike DC Bike Sharing photo

First Modern Bike-Sharing Program in the USA
The District of Columbia joins Barcelona and Paris today with the launch of its high-tech Smart Bike Program (other cities have bike-share initiatives, but not as big and sophisticated as Vélib-style programs). At first, 120 bikes will be available at 10 self-service racks, mostly in the downtown area, including near the Gallery Place, Shaw and Judiciary Square Metrorail stations. Not exactly Vélib with its 1,500 stations and 20,000 bicycles, but it's a start.

How Does it Work?
"A $40 annual fee gets riders a membership card, which allows them to pick up a cherry red three-speed bike." Once you pick up a bike, you have it for up to three hours. If you need it longer, you need to go back to a station. There are no limits to the number of trips. Unfortunately, short-term memberships will not be available at first, so the target audience isn't tourists.

District Columbia DC Bike Sharing photo

Washington Post:

Sebastian said several steps have been taken to deter theft. Unlike Vélib, only those with a membership card can rent bikes, and the replacement fee for a stolen or damaged bike can reach $550. In Paris, bikes can be rented by the day or week using a credit card.

For now riders will have to provide their own locks, but maybe that will change as district officials try to figure a way to provide them with the bikes.

Lets hope that the program will be a success, that D.C. will add stations, bikes, and bike paths, and that other US cities will follow their example. You can find more information on Smart Bike DC's official website.

Short Film on Vélib, World's Biggest Bike-Sharing Program in Paris
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Montreal Wants Paris Style Bike-Sharing
Portland's Bike Share Program Put on Hold
More on D.C. Bike-Sharing
Smart Bike DC Official Site
D.C. Bike Sharing Kicks Into High Gear

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