A Washington, D.C., program is taking a cue from car sharing company ZipCar. Beginning next month, people will be able to rent bicycles through an automated sharing system called SmartBike DC.
For a $40 annual membership fee, people in D.C. can take advantage of what is the first program of its kind in the U.S. Similar programs in Paris and Barcelona sprouted up last year and have proved successful.
The low membership fee is expected to attract attention in D.C. Part of the reason for the low cost is that the public/private venture is being partially funded by advertiser dollars. In this case, Clear Channel Outdoor has joined and, in return, they'll receive exclusive advertising rights in city bus shelters.
The other good news is of course for the environment and traffic congestion. According to a New York Times article:
“There’s a lot of stress on our transit systems currently,” said Jim Sebastian, who manages bicycle and pedestrian programs for Washington’s Transportation Department. Offering another option, Mr. Sebastian said, “will help us reduce congestion and pollution,” as well as parking problems.