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Portland company will operate largest bike-share system in U.S.

Posted by on May 21st, 2010 at 1:07 pm

SmartBike DC-5

A SmartBikeDC kiosk in D.C.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Alta Bicycle Share, sister company of Portland-based Alta Planning + Design, will operate the largest bike-sharing system in the United States when Washington D.C. expands their SmartBikeDC program into Arlington, Virginia later this year.

Plans announced today by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and other regional officials say the system will launch with roughly 1100 bikes at 114 stations. D.C. was the first city in America to test the bike-sharing waters when they opened a few kiosks in April 2008.

City of Portland bike sharing demonstration-22

The D.C./Arlington system will be based on BIXI.

Alta Bicycle Share will oversee the system, assisting in permitting, funding strategies, program management, kiosk design and location analysis, and more. The D.C./Arlington system (which doesn’t have a name yet, but has a survey to help choose one) will be based on the heralded BIXI system from Montreal.

This news comes just a few weeks after Denver launched a large-scale bike-share system and Minneapolis is also close to launching one. Portland was once very keen on bike-sharing, but — despite the hometown expertise of Alta and a lot of effort to find a suitable vendor — City Hall currently has no plans to move forward.

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  • hanmade May 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I am going there in June and am planning on trying their system to ride around the mall.

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  • memo May 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    hanmade, start looking into it early. I tried into a bike share in DC about a year back when Clear Channel was running the program and eventually gave up after all the hoops. Hopefully Alta is not just for DC area residents….Best of luck and please let us know how it goes.

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  • Red Five May 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Please don’t force me to subsidize this as well.

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  • bikieboy May 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

    memo, seems like the DC system run by Clear Channel was intentionally not geared to serve tourists — which to me was a huge oversight, since the most practical and enjoyable way to tour the Capitol Mall is by bike.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 22, 2010 at 8:54 am

    As for a system name…How about “District” + “Bixi” = “Dixie”?!

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  • Todd Boulanger May 22, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Huh I took the survey but sadly the Survey Monkey page did not show how the votes were going after their thank you note…the page just left me in a white out without a way to leave the site…odd

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  • Chris Rall May 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    The Bike Station at Union Station has bike rentals that work for tourists, but this could be a good deal for short trips noodling around if you are in DC more than once per year. I might give it a try too.

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  • Paul Tay May 23, 2010 at 1:46 am

    When I was car-bound in D.C., I might have used bikeshare, if there was a way to also roll a toddler.

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  • ayresjk May 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I was there a few weeks ago and spoke with the head of the program…its $40 for an annual subscription and yes it is geared towards locals, not tourists, which made me upset at first, but talking to the guy, I realized that it’s intention is to reduce in-city car trips. Have a long lunch to kill? hop on Metro and ride a few stops, get off and ride a bike to get your hair cut, ride back and return the bike. its a great idea, that could get over run and abused by tourists. I rented bikes from the rental place at Union Station and was very pleased with that outfit. $15 for two hours, a lock and a Helmet. A few bucks more for the whole day or a sportier bike.

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