D.C. Bike-Sharing Program

Washington D.C. launched their SmartBike DC bike-sharing program in August. This is the first publicly-funded bike-sharing program in North America, and it looks to be a great success. The only complaint seems to be the need for more bikes and stations. Alice Kelly with the District Department of Transportation said the program is much more popular than they anticipated, and they have plans to expand the system to meet demand.

SmartBike DC details:

  • Participation requires a $40 annual fee and membership card
  • There is a 3-hour trip limit, but bikes can be turned in and swapped for another an unlimited number of times for no charge

[via StreetFilms]

8 Responses to “D.C. Bike-Sharing Program”

  • pat mcg says:

    While it looks really nice, I’m not really sure if they can claim to be the first. Just one example of an earlier program from Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC http://www.recyclery.info/blue_urban_bikes

  • Alan says:

    Thanks Pat. I changed the copy to read “This is the first publicly-funded bike-sharing program in North America, and it looks to be a great success.”

  • Nanda says:


    Those look like 26″/20″ wheels? Reminds me of the original RANS Fusion design:

    I like how the front rack also doubles as the locking mechanism. What happens when you go to return a bike and all the stalls are filled? Is there a second set of rack lock holes to put another row of bikes on the opposite side of the first line up?

    Does anyone know the parts spec. on these bikes?

  • Phil Lepanto says:


    I am not sure what the specs are for the bike, but I did want to share with you guys a couple of points:

    1) “Publicly funded” is also a bit of a reach. The current program of 120 bikes + 10 stations is funded by Clear Channel as part of an outdoor advertising agreement. Future staions and bikes will be paid for out of government funds. Expansion plans are still in draft and have not yet been released.

    2) I think the distinguishing factor about this program is that it has an automated system for checking in and checking out bikes. Previous bike share plans either relied on an attendant or the bikes were free to use. This hopefully can be efficient AND reduce theft.

    3) Smart Bike users can access the smart bike website via a computer or a web-enabled PDA and see which stations have bikes and which stations have empty slots…. However, my understanding is that there are currently more lock spots than there are available bikes in the system. While having too many people trying to lock up at the same station might be a problem, I don’t think it is likely…. we’ll see, what a problem to have!

    4) After about a month of use, subscriptions are higher than anticipated and we are seeing a health 70-80 trips per day. Hopefully Fall will yield more ridership since it riders won’t have to suffer DC’s swamp-like heat and humidity.

  • Todd says:

    Regarding funding, the Blue Urban Bikes program is significantly thru public funds – $15,000 from the Town of Chapel Hill, plus grants and donations.

    Comparatively, the DC program is currently funded primarily thru advertising revenue from Clear Channel.

  • Ernst says:

    maybe you should write: this is the first post-Velib-so-now-it’s-cool bike sharing program.

  • ontarioroader says:

    There’s a maintenance/distribution crew that drives around in a van and moves the bikes so there will usually be open return slots.

  • Andreçao says:

    The same system with the same bicycles is being succesfully developed in Barcelona (Spain). The service is known as teh “Bicing” (in spanish “bici” means “bike” as “bicicleta” means “bicycle”).

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