Sunday, February 24, 2008
SmartBike DC Program Website
At a recent presentation about the SmartBike DC program, it was announced the program will launch in Spring 2008. The program had been set for a March launch, however, there had been some minor setbacks due to the local power company wanting to meter each individual station rather than charge a flat rate per station.
According to the new SmartBike DC Website, bikes will be available from 6am - 10pm daily. While equivalent in operating hours with a bus or rail transit system, these hours are curious for an automated system and I could only guess what the rationale is - alcohol, crime? The bikes are certainly equipped with dynamo lights on the front and rear for safe night riding. As The Bike-sharing Blog reported on February 8 with data from Paris officials, a quarter of Velib's use is during the hours of 9pm - 3am. So it would seem prudent if D.C.'s program were kept open at all times with the goal being to encourage greater use as 25% is a substantial portion of ridership.
Customers will be able to use the bikes for up to 3 hours at a time. If returned after 3 hours, a penalty point will be assessed to the individual's account. After 3 penalty points, the customer is prevented from checking-out another bike. Additionally, there will be a $200 replacement fee for lost or stolen bikes. This is a generous policy for customers as it's more time than most of this program's sister cities offer. The downside of a longer check-out time is less turnover of the bikes and therefore fewer uses. Velib' data reports the average trip duration is 20 minutes for their 30-minute free period.
Stations will be located at Logan Circle, Metro Center, Dupont Circle, U Street, Shaw, Foggy Bottom, Gallery Place, McPherson Square, and Mt. Vernon Place. The closest distance between adjacent stations is about 0.2 mi (0.3 km), the furthest distance is 0.9 mi (1.5 km).
image credit: Wikipedia