The District of Columbia has teamed up with Clear Channel Outdoor to make the program possible. Clear Channel will have exclusive advertising rights in the city’s bus shelters. The company has reached a similar deal with San Francisco. Chicago and Portland, Ore., are also considering proposals from advertisers.
For a $40 annual membership fee, SmartBike DC users can check out bicycles for three hours at a time. Subscribers who keep bicycles longer than the three-hour limit will receive demerits and could eventually lose renting privileges.
Bike-sharing has become a “public service subsidized by advertising,” said Bernard Parisot, the president and co-chief executive officer of JCDecaux North America, an outdoor advertiser that made a proposal to bring bike-sharing to Chicago.
As recently as October 2007 Portland issued a request for proposals for a bicycle fleet for rent to the public. An April 28, 2008, BikePortland.org headline read, “Washington wins bike-sharing race; is Portland far behind?”
Paris launched a bicycle service last year with more than 10,600 bikes available at 750 stations all over the city.
Last December, Toronto’s six-year-old bike sharing program ended because it ran out of money.