One can now be healthier and more environmentally conscious when traveling in D.C. with the planned expansion of SmartBikes in the District.

The District’s Department of Transportation is planning a multi-million dollar expansion of the SmartBike system. According to James Sebastian, bicycle and pedestrian program manager, expansion plans would bring the SmartBike system to the Georgetown area. The development would be funded in part by federal stimulus money.

SmartBike is a bicycle rental service which allows subscribers to take out a bike from any of the SmartBike racks in the city and return the bike to any of the other locations.

According to Sebastian, the DDOT would “ideally” like to expand SmartBike by 90 racks for a total of 100 racks city-wide. Sebastian said this would take at least a year to accomplish, and he added that the expansion would probably include the construction of two bike racks in the Georgetown area. Sebastian said, however, that the size of the expansion is dependent on funding. He did suggest that with proper funding, racks will probably be placed in the K Street and Wisconsin Avenue area as well as a closer location to campus.

He added, however, that the exact locations have not yet been determined.

Currently, the SmartBike racks closest to campus are located at the Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom metro stations. According to WTOP’s Web site, Washington’s only all-news radio station, planned sites for the SmartBike expansion include Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill and Anacostia.

According to DDOT spokesperson John Lisle, the DDOT will receive $123.5 million in federal stimulus dollars. Sebastian said that funding for the SmartBike expansion would come from both federal and local sources. In regard to federal funds, Lisle said the DDOT was pursuing “two different pots of money.”

“We’ve asked for about $3 million in federal money prior to the stimulus that we are still waiting for approval on, and then we’re also asking for about $3 million in stimulus money. . So [the] total would be upwards of $6 million,” Sebastian said.

According to Sebastian, SmartBike, like other public transit systems in the city, is currently unprofitable and was not intended to be profitable. However, he added that SmartBike is part of the bus shelter advertising program, which places advertisements in bus stop shelters in certain counties, and this does generate revenue for the District.

SmartBike is managed worldwide by Clear Channel, a media and advertising company. Euam Fisk, Clear Channel employee and program manager for SmartBike D.C., said Clear Channel “manages the program in its entirety,” though he would not comment on the specific nature of the contract between the DDOT and SmartBike other than to say it is a good example of public-private cooperation.

D.C. is the only city that offers SmartBikes outside of Europe. A one-time annual fee of $40 allows a SmartBike subscriber to take out a SmartBike an unlimited number of times for up to 24 hours at a time. According to Fisk, there are currently 1,000 subscribers in the District.

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