Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

DDOT puts nail in the coffin of SmartBike D.C.

December 17, 2010 - 03:20 PM
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At this point it's pretty much just a formality, but the D.C. Department of Transportation has announced that they're officially ending SmartBike D.C., the city's initial bikesharing program that was recently supplanted by the far more robust Capital Bikeshare system.

SmartBike D.C., which was owned and maintained by broadcasting behemoth ClearChannel, debuted in August 2008 with 120 bikes docked at 10 stations around the city. At the time, the Post's Elissa Silverman said we could "declare the District's urban-cool inferiority complex over." But in fact, the low usage of SmartBike D.C. probably ended up stoking that complex rather than dispelling it. Each bike averaged about one ride per day, a rock-bottom rate when stacked against systems in other cities.

As Lydia Depillis pointed out a few months back, SmartBike D.C. suffered from a number of problems. For one thing, Clear Channel never did much to promote the system, which is why this may be the first you've heard about it. There were also no short-term memberships available for tourists. And a mere ten stations made it somewhat anemic as a network.

DDOT will be removing all of the SmartBike stations in the coming weeks and replacing them with Capital Bikeshare docks, according to the Post.

“We want to sincerely thank all the people who joined SmartBikeDC and made it such a success,” DDOT Director Gabe Klein said in a statement. “We also want to thank Clear Channel Outdoors for their partnership. It is because of the success of the SmartBikeDC program we were able to expand and eventually launch Capital Bikeshare.”

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