Dear PoP – Shouldn’t SmartBike Expand to more Neighborhoods?

“Dear PoP,

I’ve always thought it would make sense for Smartbike to have stations at some farther locations in DC. I mean, isn’t the point to cut down on traffic? If so, they’re not going to do the trick by only offering bikes in such a small radius! Any way to start a community petition (on your website 😉 to get a bank of bikes in Petworth?”

You are in luck – DDOT just released a press release this morning (Bike to work day and all) announcing Bike Sharing’s expansion. I know Columbia Heights is slated to get some but I’m not sure about Petworth. If folks want Petworth to get a spot as well be sure to leave that sentiment in the comments and I’ll be sure to forward to DDOT.

Here’s the press release:

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and District Department of Transportation Director (DDOT) Gabe Klein today announced a joint effort to expand bike sharing tenfold in the Washington area. Both Arlington and the District have each signed contracts for what will become a regional bike sharing system later this year.

“We are extremely excited to lead the nation once again in bike sharing,” said Mayor Fenty. “The response to the bike sharing program has been unprecedented and we are pleased to be able to join with Arlington in our expansion efforts.”

This expanded, regional system follows the success of SmartBikeDC, launched in 2008. The new system will launch later this year with roughly 1100 bikes at 114 stations and will be largest of its kind in the U.S.

Continues after the jump including a naming contest for the new system at the bottom of press release.

“It will be terrific for residents and visitors to be able to pick up a bike in DC and drop it off in Arlington, and vice versa,” commented Chairman Fisette. “This new system will connect with our existing transit network, and provide even more options for people to get around. This is a wonderful example of regional cooperation.”

“The District continues to move forward with our initiatives to provide a more balanced approach to transportation,” said DDOT Director Klein. “Biking provides a healthy and efficient way to get around town and with the installation of this new system almost anyone who can ride a bike will enjoy the benefits.”

The new system will be similar to the one the Public Bike System Company (PBSC), based in Montreal, produced, commonly known as BIXI. The BIXI system has been running in Montreal since 2009 and will be arriving soon in Minneapolis, London, and Melbourne, Australia. BIXI bike sharing stations are solar powered and use wireless technology to allow for easy installation and adjustments. It may look different, but the BIXI bicycle has many of the same features as the Smartbike: 3-speed, internal hub gears, fenders, chain guard, lights, and a front rack. Annual, monthly, and daily memberships will be available for area residents and visitors.

Alta Bicycle Share will operate the system. Alta Bicycle Share is a US-based company focused on management and operation of bicycle share systems globally. Its sister company, Alta Planning + Design, is the largest bicycle and pedestrian consulting company in the United States. Alta Bicycle Share is implementing or consulting on similar programs in Australia, Europe, China, and other locations in the United States.

Name that bike

The District and Arlington County are also asking the public to get involved by participating in a survey to help pick the name of the new bike sharing system. Go to to vote for your favorite name or to suggest a new one. Everyone gets only one vote but you should vote quickly. The voting will only be open for a limited time and all votes must be submitted by 5 p.m. on June 4, 2010.

Visit the following websites for more information on the partners and their bike programs or products mentioned in this release:



Public Bike Share Company – BIXI System

Alta Bicycle Share Company

17 Comment

  • I’ll pay attention if they ever think of upper Ward 4, which I don’t think they will.

    • I too would love the program to expand to upper Ward 4. Takoma is
      a prime location. Other potential locations could be 14th & Colorado, Georgia & Missouri (especially once the Curtis Chevy site finally gets developed), and the Fort Totten area (especially since Urban Turf
      has touted it one of the hot neighborhoods for 2015).

  • I love the bike sharing program–I am a paying member–but the City has issued the same press release several times over the last year. In March 2009, DDOT said that it would have 50 bike kiosks by summer 2009. In April 2009, Fenty said the program would expand to 100 bike kiosks with expansion beginning in summer 2009. In January 2010, DDOT’s Gabe Klein re-announced plans for 100 kiosks by spring 2010. And today DDOT announces plans for 114 kiosks. However, there are still only the 10 original kiosks, which have been in place since 2008. I am all for a massive expansion. I just hope its real this time.

  • I think a big barrier to uptake of the bike sharing is the cost…what is it, like $40? That’s crazy.

    In Paris, they have bike sharing and the first 30min is free. If you’ve been to Paris latest, EVERYONE uses these bikes. They are ubiquitous.

    If they adopt a similar pricing scheme here, people might actually use them.

  • @FD: It’s $40 for a year flat fee then it’s unlimited free usage as long as you return it to another stand within 3 hours. Very cheap!

  • Yes, please do get bike sharing in Petworth and Columbia Heights!!! That would be awesome

  • The price is actually going up. <a href="; From GGW:

    “The new system will allow a wider range of membership opportunities. Annual memberships will cost $80, double the current SmartBike rate of $40, though for a much better service. People can also purchase monthly memberships for $30 or daily ones for $5. All memberships allow unlimited bike rentals, free for the first 30 minutes with usage fees (levels not yet specified) after 30 minutes.”

  • I think this program has potential but I have wondered since its inception how users are supposed to deal with two fundamental flaws.

    1) The time limit – it is automatically useless, unless there happen to be bike stands both near your house and near your destination. Even if there were 100 of these in the city, what’s the chance of one being really close? If you still have to walk a lot, it kind of defeats the purpose

    2) If you are doing an errand, and plan to return it to the same place, what do you do with the bike? Do you have to lock it up? Carry around your own lock?

    If you’re going to have to carry a lock around, or walk very far between the start/end kiosks, then why wouldn’t you just use your own bike in the first place?

    I guess that is what it comes down to. Having your own bike is a lot more convenient, and given that you can probably buy a used bike of equivalent quality for under $50, I don’t see the value.

    It’s kind of an interesting idea that may appeal to tourists, I guess, but of course they would have to register for a year in order to do that…

    How do people use this, really? And how is it better than having your own cheap bike?

    • I think the real issue is it eliminates the issue of where to store your bike and not having to build a climate controlled storage shed. Furthermore, for the live-in mother-in-law, you give her an annual membership for her birthday every year. This eliminates having to think of what to get her and carting her around town on demand.

      Ha Ha…Heh Heh Heh

      • My “around town” bike is stored in a special facility that is precision-engineered using the latest climate-control technology to exactly mimic the conditions outdoors. It is known as my yard.

    • Jaime – In Montreal (which I hope they emulate) there were drop off locations every 2-3 blocks in the really dense areas. A little further away, there were less -but still enough that you’re within a 1/4 mile walkshed. There happened to be one right outside my friend’s apartment so we used it the whole trip.

      In terms of locking it up, we didn’t need to because the city was so saturated. But I’m sure you could.

      We rented a bike for the whole day for $4. I dipped my credit card and they put a $175 hold until I returned the bike. I could take and return bikes from everywhere in the city, so you’re not locked to “one bike”. To solve problems of too many bikes collecting in one place, they have drivers that redistribute the bikes (i.e. bringing them from DC back to Arlington in the morning, or vice versa) to keep equilibrium.

      Only once I couldn’t find a palce to put it – it was Jazz Fest in Montreal, and the street festivals were all crowded with bikes. I had to just wait a bit.

  • it was cool to see a few folks on smartbikes at the bike to work rally this morning.

  • I think this is more practical for use in rare circumstances where you don’t have your own bike handy. 1) you don’t have to return the bike to the same location it was rented from, 2) you don’t have to pay monthly fees, but can just do the daily fee.
    Even if there isn’t a station right near your house, if it is closer than where you currently are when you rent the bike, it will save walking distance.
    My questions – what about helmets? And if you are doing errands, is there some built in lock?

  • BIXI was the highlight of my trip to Montreal. Such a great system – the city is saturated with bike drop points, so you didn’t have to worry about finding a spot to leave it once you got to your destination, and anyone can get one by dipping a credit card! You can also check drop points on your iPhone. I LOVED IT! Way to go, DC! You guys have done something right!

  • yes john you are right this is a Bixi program just like Montreal has. Apparently the stations will require far less build out as they are solar powered, no need for power or phone line hookups. go DDOT!

  • Thanks for posting my letter, PoP! Just FYI, I sent them an email asking for bikes in Petworth, and they actually wrote me back:
    “Thank you very much for your interest in Clear Channel Outdoor’s SmartBike Program.
    We are hoping to expand to more bike stations in the near future. While it is still unclear where expansion will take place, we are working closely with DDOT to determine the next steps for SmartBike DC. We appreciate the location recommendation. It will be officially noted.”

    If everyone who commented on the story would send an email to smartbike ([email protected]), I think that would be a great start!

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