Yesterday, Mayor Fenty announced plans to expand SmartBike to 100 stations with 1000 bicycles. This was already the plan that Jim Sebastian presented in February (he called a system of this size the full build-out). At the same presentation, Mr. Sebastian said the goal was to expand to 50 stations and 600 bikes by 2016 and at an unnamed date to 100 stations and 1200 bikes. A few weeks later at the BAC meeting they said they were going to expand to 50 stations this year. Then WTOP reported in March that it would be twice that and would happen this summer (I was skeptical). Yesterday Chris Holen confirmed the size, though they won't be finished for two years
Chris Holben, a bike program specialist for the District Department of Transportation, said that the expansion - which could begin as soon as this summer - is a direct result of the program's initial success.
"It's wildly successful, both with the 10 locations we have, but then also people are requesting them in other parts of the city," he said, adding that the first 10 locations were built as something of a trial to gauge the success of the program. When it became clear that SmartBike was a hit after only a few months, Holden said expansion discussions began immediately.
Holben said the DDOT hopes to begin construction on the stations this summer, but that it might take up to two years to install all 90 units.
So in two month we've gone from 50 stations/600 bikes by 2016 to 100 station/1000 bikes by 2011. That's quite a change. Could that be the influence of new DDOT Director and former Zipcar employee Gabe Klein, or is it a result of stimulus funding and system popularity? Jim Sebastian said he'd gotten a lot of interest in the program and would tell businesses and institutions that if they would pay for their kiosks and/or bikes they would move up in line. If enough places bought into that, it could provide the money needed.
Update: George Hawkins, Director of the District Department of the Environment, talked about this some in his chat with GGW, where he said
We have talked with Arlington -- and there certainly is good reason to make the [Public Bicycle] programs compatible. Gabe Klein, the exciting new Director at DDOT, is in the lead.
And he referred readers to the green agenda site which transit and mobility under the six goals.
Installed the first 10 SmartBike DC stations with 100 shared bicycles to promote bicycling and reduce car use.
Installed more than 40 miles of designated bike lanes and 1,000 bicycle racks on public space across the District.
Developed the Watts Branch, Anacostia, and Metropolitan Branch bicycle trails to promote bicycle recreation and commuting
Construct a bike station at Union Station to provide bicycle parking, rentals, retail, and repairs—opening July 2009.
Expand SmartBike DC to 100 stations with 1,000 shared bicycles.
The Met Branch Trail and, to a lesser extent the Anacostia, should probably be under Key Commitments since they aren't done, but why quibble. And that's the first opening date for the Union Station Bike Station I've seen.