Posted by: shoji | April 29, 2008

Vélib: US Edition (bike sharing in DC)

In a previous post, Vélib: Paris by communal bike, my cynicism got the better of me– “Americans are fat and lazy. We’re also litigious…”– and I dismissed the idea that communal bikes could work in US Cities.

Thankfully, entrepreneurs are eternal optimists, and a bike-sharing program is coming to DC (see NYT).

The innovation here is technology and funding. On the tech front, new methods are deployed to try to combat theft. On the funding side, the program turned to an advertising model.

There could never be enough marketing/advertising venues (oops, cynicism creeping back). This iteration of bike-sharing in DC will be heavily subsidized by advertising from ClearChannel, with biker-sharers paying a $40 annual membership fee.

Of course, the political innovation is that legislators, regardless of their green cred (of the eco variety), could hardly turn down this opportunity: DC will keep the revenue generated by the program (the other green cred).

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