Before there was Capital Bikeshare, there was SmartBike. The 10 station bike sharing system in downtown DC was one of the benefits DC received in return for giving ClearChannel the exclusive rights to bus shelter ads in the city. The system worked fine for it's size, but it was quickly realized that the system needed to expand to really succeed. Unfortunately the original contract made that difficult. The agreement specifically prohibited DDOT from paying for anything related to SmartBike, so an expansion required DDOT to renegotiate the contract. DDOT was in the process of doing that when the Alta/Bixi system debuted in Montreal. The solar-powered system was superior to the hard-wired one ClearChannel had, and Arlington had already made substantial headway on an agreement, so DDOT asked ClearChannel to stop operating Smartbike and DC piggybacked onto Arlington's contract.
But what happened to the bikes, stations and contract?
The bikes, DDOT reports, were donated by ClearChannel to an unnamed Baltimore charity. The stations were removed - at ClearChannel's expense. In fact, the whole system not only didn't cost DC anything (except, perhaps some other benefit they might have gotten from ClearChannel), but they were given quarterly payments based on membership dues. And the contract was modified to remove all references to SmartBike. So ClearChannel got a bit of a windfall, as did some charity in Baltimore, but DC is almost certainly better off for the change.