Based on Paris' Velib bike-share program, private sponsorship will support SmartBike in Washington, DC. For a $40 annual membership fee, SmartBike users can check out three-speed bicycles for three hours at a time.
"A new public-private venture called SmartBike DC will make 120 bicycles available at 10 spots in central locations in the city. The automated program, which district officials say is the first of its kind in the nation, will operate in a similar fashion to car-sharing programs like Zipcar. "
Clear Channel Outdoor, a billboard advertising company, partnered with the City of Washington, DC, to make the program possible. The company also has a contract with San Francisco.
Improved technology prevents theft of bicycles, a recurring problem in earlier free bike sharing programs. "SmartBike subscribers who keep bicycles longer than the three-hour maximum will receive demerits and could eventually lose renting privileges. Bicycles gone for more than 48 hours will be deemed lost, with the last user charged a $200 replacement fee."