Posts Tagged “SmartBike”
No bike? No problem.
Starting this fall, the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) plans to expand its popular bicycle rental program to 100 stations across the city. Building off of the success of the SmartBike DC bicycle sharing program, Capital Bikeshare will bring at least 1000 bicycles to the streets of Washington.
And here’s the best part—Georgetown University snagged itself a station. Earlier today, DDOT posted a map of the preliminary Bikeshare location on its website, only to take it down after noticing some errors. (The heroes over at Greater Greater Washington, however, have an interactive copy.) According to GGW, DDOT is “still tweaking” the map which details all of the bike sharing stations, but plans to formally announce the locations later today. (UPDATE: The map is back on the DDOT site.)
How will this affect Georgetown students? For starters, it will mean that some of us can ditch those long waits for GUTS buses.
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That headline is a little misleading—due to a quarrel between Clear Channel, the administrators of the SmartBike bike-sharing program, and the City, it’s unlikely that Georgetown will get a SmartBike station any time soon.
Nonetheless, two House Republicans, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), are saying that the very idea of providing Georgetown residents with free bicycles was one of the “11 worst pork-barrel projects of the 111th Congress,” according to Fox News.
Kirk and Price don’t have all their facts straight—they allege that the stimulus provided Georgetown with $3 million in funding for bicycle racks, when in fact Georgetown was merely named as one of 40 new SmartBike locations in a $3 million dollar expansion of the program (and the bike racks came with actual bikes)—but something tells me we would have made their worst-of list either way.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) railed against bikes for wealthy Georgetown residents back in March, too, at which time the League of American Bicyclists made an argument for considering bike funding as a “stimulus project.”
What else made this list? “$550,000 for a skateboard park in Pawtucket, R.I.,” “$3.8 million for an urban art trail in Rochester, N.Y.,” and “$500,000 for fish food in Missouri, to help defray the costs for state fish farmers.”
Photo from Flickr user M “Annie” Gaddis.
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When the District Department of Transportation announced in March that SmartBike (the ride-sharing program that began last August) was set to expand to Georgetown this summer, we were pretty pumped. Turns out the future of Georgetown bike-sharing isn’t quite so bright, though.
According to the Georgetown Metropolitan, Clear Channel, who agreed to run the program in exchange for control over the advertising in new D.C. bus shelters, isn’t being terribly cooperative. Since they’ve already got their advertising rights shored up, they’re unwilling to add new bike stations.
GM thinks D.C. might have to cut the cord with Clear Channel and find another more accommodating company to run the program. Either way, looks like this summer’s projected expansion isn’t gonna happen…
Photo from Flickr user Mr. T in DC, used under a Creative Commons license.
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I like to think of them as having dorkish charm
Yipee! By this summer, DDOT will expand SmartBike DC, the bike sharing service that launched earlier this year, to include Georgetown. WTOP reports:
The expansion will bring the total number of bikes on the city’s streets to around 500.
The goal is to get Smartbike running in all eight Wards of the District. The upcoming expansion will not touch all eight Wards, but there will be numerous neighborhoods that get the bikes, including Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill, Anacostia and Georgetown …. DDOT has set aside about $3 million in stimulus money to fund the upcoming expansion.
$3 million? Startup costs eat up most of the money, especially if you want to start with a bigger system, like Arlington does. From Greater Greater Washington:
The biggest obstacle is startup cost. Systems cost very little to maintain, since subscription fees and ads cover most of the operating and replacement cost …. Arlington Commuter Services head Chris Hamilton says they’re hoping to find more money to start with a bigger system. A maximal system of 1,400 bikes of the fancier kind DC uses, he said, would cost at most $6 million for capital and operating costs for the first two years.
According to WTOP, the expansion should be complete by this summer, will take the total number of racks from 10 to 50. Annual subscriptions cost $40 and they’ve got a cool map that tells you how many bikes are left at a given location, (but be careful, GGW notes that the markers go screwy at different zoom levels).
When the program launched in August, Vox’s Will Sommer decried the bikes’ ugliness. Me, I think they’re kind of cute.
Photo taken from Flickr user afagen under a Creative Commons license.
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No matter how you feel about Smartbike DC, the bike sharing program that launched today, it’s hard to argue that the bikes look good. The big rear wheel cover, the mundane star logo, and the red metal make its rider look more like a tourist on an bike tour of the city than a frugal, environmentally-aware commuter.
But do bikes in these sort of programs always have to look ugly? After the jump, one bike affirms the resolution and five negate.
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At last, DC’s SmartBike bikesharing program is launching today, and our tired legs and lungs couldn’t be happier. Still, it’s already running into problems–the availability map reveals six of the ten locations already have all their bikes checked out.
Wayan at We Love DC doesn’t think much of the program, dubbing it “Dorkbike”. Hardly! Those rear wheel covers aren’t good-looking, and helmets should be provided, but this program will be a good thing for DC that gets even better as more stations (Georgetown!) are added.
Photo from Flickr user Joe in DC used under a Creative Commons license
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The District’s Department of Transportation has partnered with Clear Channel Outdoor to bring Smart Bike, North America’s first bike sharing program, to DC. Starting next month, program members will be able to borrow bicycles from ten locations around the city for a maximum of three hours at a time. Membership costs $40 for the year, a comparatively small sum for unlimited transportation use during a time of oil price increases.
But the limited number of rental stations may not make this the most convenient mode of transportation for many in DC, especially Georgetown students. The closest Smart Bike docking points to Georgetown are in Dupont Circle and at George Washington University—yes, they get their very own station at Foggy Bottom.
If Georgetown can’t manage to secure a Metro station, you’d think we could at least get some free bikes. To learn more, check out Smart Bike DC online.
- Lynn Kirshbaum, Photo Editor. Photo of Paris bike share from Flickr user rekha6.
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