Update On Smartbike Expansion

As discussed by GM in June, the long discussed expansion of the District’s bike sharing program, SmartBike, which was to include a Georgetown station, has been delayed. Today the Director of DDOT Gabe Klein sent out a message giving an update on the delay and what they are currently considering. The email and the takeaway after the jump:

The major takeaways from the email are:

  • Don’t expect any new stations until next Spring.
  • The expansion will likely reach one or more surrounding jurisdiction.
  • The expansion more likely than not will involve a new operator or at least a new technology. For instance, Bixi Bike in Montreal uses solar panels to power the stations, this makes it much easier to expand the program since it doesn’t require Pepco to install new electrical systems.

But don’t take GM’s word for it, here’s the email itself:

Dear SmartBike Member,

Happy Anniversary!

The SmartBikeDC team and I want to thank you for your participation in this bold experiment in urban transportation as we celebrate our first year in operation. We hope you have enjoyed and benefited from the SmartBikeDC program and that you will take the time now to renew your membership.

I would also like to take this opportunity to give you an update on our expansion plans. We had hoped to have a fully expanded bike sharing program in operation throughout the District and into the surrounding jurisdictions by this time. Since the current program was offered as a pilot program attached to the District’s new bus shelter program, working out the operation and financing of the expansion proved to be more difficult than we anticipated.

In the meantime, bike sharing technologies have advanced rapidly; some of these new technologies offer substantial advantages in areas such as cost and portability. We want to assure you that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) continues to explore all options for expansion of our bike sharing program. At this time, our best estimate for when you will see new stations and bikes around the city, SmartBikeDC or otherwise, is the Spring of 2010.

We want to assure you that in the event we do switch systems and/or vendors, SmartBikeDC memberships will be honored on the new system. The current system will operate at least until we have a new system up and running. So for those of you contemplating your expiring membership, please renew, and continue enjoying your SmartBikeDC experience.

Finally, I want to thank our colleagues at Clear Channel Outdoor for their hard work over the last year (and more) on the installation and operation of SmartBikeDC. I have now had the opportunity to see other bike sharing systems, and I can assure you that no one works harder on bike maintenance and circulation than these folks.

We will provide more information as we make progress on the expansion. In the meantime please feel free contact SmartBikeDC or Jim Sebastian at DDOT with your questions and comments.

Enjoy and ride safely,

Gabe Klein

Director, DDOT

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One response to “Update On Smartbike Expansion

  1. Pingback: Ideas That Didn’t Pan Out (At Least Not Yet) «

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