I stumbled on to this short video because I trying to find a Wikipedia entry on SmartBike DC (there isn’t one yet). I was originally going to post two Google Maps (see below) showing the number of stations in DC compared to the number of Velib stations in Paris. The point of the two maps was to show that Clear Channel, which was beat out in Paris by JCDecaux, went a little skimpy when planning and implementing DC’s SmartBike program.
Velib was launched just about a year ago on July 15, 2007, with 10,000 bicycles and 750 automated rental stations each with 15 or more bikes/spaces. This number has since grown to 20,000 bicycles and 1,450 stations, about 1 station every 300 m throughout the city centre, making Velib the largest system of its kind in the world. Washington, DC, on the other hand, started with 10 stations, about 120 bikes, and is the first program of its kind in North America.
While Paris is a much larger city, I am disappointed that with all the hype surrounding the SmartBike program, the planners were not as Smart as they could have been. Had they placed racks at *ALL* DC-based Metro stations before launching I would have bought my SmartBike pass immediately and I bet more would-be bicycle riders would have as well. Until then, I don’t see myself purchasing a pass because I can get to all the current locations on my own bike.
Washington, DC’s natural topography features a hill that surrounds the “Federal City,” or the old part of the city below Florida Ave, which was once called Boundary Street because it was the natural line of demarcation. This hill is what stops me from going to some places on my bike versus taking the Metro. Yet the locations of all the SmartBike stations are located below the hill, so why bother using the bikes when mine works fine for this area? For example, I’d rather take the Metro to Tenleytown, hop on a bike there, and take it down the hill to Georgetown.
Anyways, I still want to make a video called “Doing Dumb Things On A Smart Bike,” but I guess I am going to have to wait…
For a comparison of scale, check these two Google Map screen grabs featuring the locations of the Velib stations and the SmartBikeDC stations: