This month, Washington D.C. will celebrate the first birthday of its pilot bike-sharing program, SmartBike D.C., which has not only been welcomed by the public, but has greatly succeeded. Within the first ten months of their introduction, the fleet of 120 bicycles had made more than 11,000 trips throughout the District. In reaction to the ready acceptance of the program, city officials have decided to increase the fleet by 400-percent, with rental locations spread throughout the city. Of the 40 new terminals currently being planned, 28 have gotten final approval to build, and should be operational by Fall 2009, expanding service into the District’s outer-reaches.
Many of these new terminals will be located near pre-existing transportation hubs, giving customers a varied array of transit options including busses, trains, and the metro. Given these improvements, the program is expected to gain even more momentum, gradually replacing cars and taxis on the Capitol’s streets with SmartBike’s signature red and white bikes.
Similar to other bike-share programs throughout Europe and Asia, SmartBike requires that users subscribe to the service, a cost of forty dollars per year, giving them unlimited use of the bikes. After signing-up, a customer is issued a SmartBike card that can be swiped at any terminal, allowing them to take or return a bike to any of the secured bike racks.
A list of the District’s bike laws, and maps of bike routes can be found here, and SmartBike D.C.’s homepage can be found here. Lastly, the nation-wide cycling promotion group, Critical Mass, has a rapidly-growing branch in the District. They coordinate regular rides throughout the city, and their webpage can be found here.