What’s Up With DC’s Bike Rental Expansion Plans?


Folks had seemed pretty happy with Smart Bike DC when I asked back in November. But there has been some chatter on the Columbia Heights Listserv questioning the expansion:

“Does anyone know the status of the SmartBike program’s expansion? Back in March, they were saying that the program would grow from 10 stations to 50 by this summer, including a station that would be placed in Columbia Heights: http://wtop.com/?nid=30&sid=1628439

However, it doesn’t look like any new stations at all have been installed: https://www.smartbikedc.com/smartbike_locations.asp

Did I miss something? Was there a change in plans? What’s going on?”

Council Member Jim Graham responds:

“Thanks for including me on this. I understand DDOT had hoped to simply expand the existing bike sharing program. Unfortunately, the existing provider has not been that cooperative, so DDOT has been exploring the possibility of using a different bike sharing company. This is causing delays.

I am asking Jim Sebastian of DDOT to provide us with the latest estimate.

We are all very eager to see this successful program expanded.”

Wow, I wonder how difficult it will be to find a new provider?

18 Comment

  • saf

    Clear Channel sucks.

    See, as soon as they got control over the bus shelter advertising, they stopped doing everything else the contract requires of them. DDOT should either enforce the contract or revoke it and find someone who will fulfill their obligations.

  • The District’s plan to increase the SmartBike program by fivefold is more aggressive than any other SmartBike program in the world, considerably. As much as I loathe Clear Channel, I can’t help but wonder if their reluctance is in part concern for the viability of such a plan.

    Not sure where the accusation of contract violations comes in–AFAIK, the contract was for 10 stations. The proposed addition of 40 more stations was always to be a new contract the the timeframe for it was never contractually agreed to by either the District or Clear Channel.

  • they need to lose CC and pick up bixi . Needs to happen.

  • This is just another example of poor management on the side of DC. They gave away the farm to Clear Channel on the first go around (control of all bus shelter advertisements in exchange for the 10 smart bike stations). There is nothing else to give Clear Channel, so Clear Channel very obviously said “why spend money to expand the program when we would be getting nothing in return?”

    I’m sure if the Smartbike program was a gigantic money generating cash cow, they would expand it, but, obviously that is not the case (I have no clue whether it breaks even, makes a profit, or is a money pit, but no one is turning away revenue generators in these economic times, so you come to your own conclusions).

  • Just get the people who did Montreal’s Bixi to come in here and create a robust program. This only works when you have many stations to pick up/drop off bikes. The people who did Bixi got it right.

  • Hopefully any new provider will provide classier bikes. I was just in Paris and the bikes are sleek and great. The DC bikes look a bit cheesy and toy-like.

  • You mean the DC gov has turned over the whole bus shelter advertising and bike share program to a conservative radio conglomerate? Who the fuck is running this city?

  • Who the fuck is running this city?

    Left wing liberals

  • Bill C. – Our bikes are the same as Barcelona’s — http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/03/bicing-barcelona-2-year-anniversary.php — so we’re not alone in bike design. However, Barcelona quickly expanded from its base 15 stations (200 bikes) to 400 stations (6,000 bikes). If our program expanded as it should, I wouldn’t care what our bikes look like.

  • saf

    Anon – Sorry, I looked back and you are right, the original contract did only require 10. I had misread it as 10 as a pilot and then more.

    I still hate Clear Channel though.

  • By comparison, the Montreal program, which was launched around the same time, has had 220,000 rides. DC had 11,000.

    I too have to wonder if this is a matter of realistic expectations of financial viability. I loathe Clear Channel, but you can’t deny that CC has quite a track record of financial success. The District on the other hand, does not.

  • This was a pet project of the former City Administrator and got $3M in stimulus grants. But, like the Anacostia Light Rail more show that substance and can’t get it done and now passing the buck to Clear Channel.


  • I was in Columbia Heights today doing shopping at Target and it was quite a scene………drug deal went down in front of me and some very aggressive folks hanging out.

  • Metro should take over this great business model, they are the regional lead transit agency after all arent’ they?

    We really need this service up here in the highlands of Petworth. Shieit, I’ll buy the darned bikes just so my carless guests have good transportation options for heading home to places like H St NE or other relatively far away, but bike accessible, places after metro closes early at night. Or a way to get down to the flats before buses open in the morning as some of us need to do for work at like 4am!

    The rental term definitely needs to last longer than 3 hours! Should be 24 hours in case you need to sleep it off.

    Need in Adams Morgan, Dupont, metro center/gallery place area, the new SE development area, the SW Waterfront, Shaw/convention center/ledroit, K St/Gtown corridor, Rosslyn, H St corridor. Saw the blow-torches at Union Station for the new bike facility, so progress there at least!

    And how about some electric propulsion for the ride back up from the flats? Or does metro staff just redistribute them after all the share bike commuters heading to the flats using all that free gravity just leave them there at the end of the day to each take the train home separately? An, trains full of bikes heading back for the morning ride….

    The bikes need kid seats too!

    DC’s doing a bully job for at least giving it a try! More bike lanes, more bike stations, more street cleaning, more investment, better enforcement of motor vehicle laws, please….

  • anonymous:
    what DON’T the right-wing conservative media control? and don’t give me that left-wing liberal crap. we’re the good guys. start focusing your venom on the real anything-for-a-buck-FOR-ME scoundrels.

  • Smart-Bike: DDOT’s Transportation Plan
    Posted by Shaun on 7/14/2009 07:00:00 PM
    Labels: DDOT, SmartBike

    At a recent recent BZA hearing for the (much sought) Marriott convention center hotel, as the quid for the hotel’s exceptions to zoning regulations, DC’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) asked the developer to install a Smartbike station with a pretty $70,000 price tag. When you’re already dropping $500 million on a project, one might reason $70,000 is but a speed bump on the road to development. But Conference Center Associates I, LLC, the developers, proffered alternative proposals, i.e. trees and green space, considering the lack of bicycle lanes and the unlikelihood that future occupants would opt for pedals over cars. Only one BZA commissioner pressed the group about Smartbikes, but it raised the question of how Smartbikes fit into the larger development plan, and whether Smartbikes were now an integrated part of the District’s transportation plan.


  • The bikes are purposely ugly so no self-respecting hood rat would steal one.

  • If Metro takes over, the bikes might not be crashworthy.

Comments are closed.