I did an entry earlier about this rent-a-bike scheme coming to my area (http://utilitycyclist.blogspot.com/2007/10/arlington-va-to-join-ranks-of-berlin.html). Well, they’ve arrived. I saw my first Smart Bike DC location when I was downtown earlier this week and snapped some cell camera pix. In a nutshell, you pay $40 a year which gives you unlimited rides (up to 3 hours) throughout the year. If you don’t return the bike, you get tagged with a hefty charge ($500, I believe). There are 10 designated return areas/kiosks throughout the city.
As one can see, the bikes are rather utilitarian. Internal 3 speeds, chainguards with fenders and an upright riding style. The bike style offered means that anyone from a young rider to an old lady can ride them. Also, no mention about wearing a helmet anywhere near this kiosk I saw.
This is exciting. $40 is really cheap for what this gives you. It’s like an all you can eat buffet of bike riding for one year. If you want to keep your bike more than a 3 hour period, just return the bike to a kiosk. Then, re-rent another one for another 3 hour period. I hope this program is a big success so that other U.S. cities can copy these efforts.
See https://www.smartbikedc.com/ for more information.