Unlike the Parisian "Vélib" bikes, the D.C. three-speed bikes are small and lightweight. Designed for an urban commute, they come equipped with mudguards, covered chains and a luggage carrier. They even have motion-activated lights that automatically turn on at night. Their ergonomic design allows skirted riders to go for a spin. The bikes don't come with helmet or locks, but both are strongly encouraged even though Washington does not have a helmet law. If a bike is lost or damaged, the renter is responsible for a hefty $550 fine.But whatever happened to the care-free college honor system where the campus had special painted bikes you could borrow as long as you left it near a tree or didn't hog it? At least those used to be the rules.
Anyone age 18 and older can sign up online for a $40 annual fee. Bikes are rented every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and can be returned at any location. Members swipe their cards over a chip in the handlebars to unlock a bike. Bikes may not be available at every station, but the website has a real-time inventory of bike availability and the number of open slots for returns at each site.
Bikes must be returned within three hours to any SmartBike location, but a member can immediately rent another. Subscribers are free to pedal anywhere, as long as they remain within city limits.
Yeah I get that it's D.C., one of the crime-capitals of the world, not to mention full of filthy rotten liars and stealers (ha!), but what does this say about our belief in the honor system?
Would it work in a small town? Or is there always someone you can't trust... just thinking outloud today.