Some cities already had small-scale and/or low-tech bike-sharing programs, but to scale and really make a difference, you need something more. This is what the District of Columbia (D.C.) is now doing with its Smart Bike DC bike-sharing program that launched this week.
It's still a bit small - 120 bikes will be available at 10 stations, compared to 20,000 bicycles at 1,500 stations in Paris - but a good start. The way it works is simple:
"A $40 annual fee gets riders a membership card, which allows them to pick up a cherry red three-speed bike." Once you pick up a bike, you have it for up to three hours. If you need it longer, you need to go back to a station. There are no limits to the number of trips. Unfortunately, short-term memberships will not be available at first, so the target audience isn't tourists.
We can hope that other US cities - and cities around the world in general - will follow in D.C.'s footsteps and give their citizens a new transportation option. It has been shown that many people will hop on a bike for short distances over the city of bikes are conveniently available. This reduces air pollution, traffic congestion, and everybody benefits (especially cyclists who improve their health).
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