WASHINGTON (AP) - More Washingtonians could be pedaling around
town when the city launches the nation's first European-style
bike-sharing service next month.
The program, called SmartBike D.C., is similar to car-sharing
services like Zipcar. Users must sign up for a $40 annual
membership to gain access to a network of bikes stored at
computerized racks around the city. To unlock the bike, users
simply scan their access cards.
The bikes can be used for up to three hours at a time and can be
returned at any SmartBike station. In the beginning at least, there
won't be any hourly charges.
The District of Columbia program is starting small, with just 10
stations and 120 bikes. But D.C. officials are eager to expand it
quickly if the response is good. Proponents say the program easily
could be expanded to more than 1,000 bikes at more than 100
stations within a year.
SmartBike is run by San Antonio-based Clear Channel Outdoor
Holdings, which handles bus-shelter advertising for D.C. The
company runs the bike-sharing programs in 13 European cities,
including Barcelona, Spain, and Oslo, Norway.