In the New York Times, I am reading an article titled by Bernie Becker, "Bicycle-Sharing Program to Be First of Kind in U.S." and I am currently thinking, "You, Mr. Becker are incorrect."
The Yellow Bike Project allows you to learn how to build/repair your own bike and provides free bikes for public use. They even have bikes for sale and bikes available at their warehouse to fix. The latter two require a little bit of money, but it is most definitely worth it. If you have the time to dedicate to it, you get the best of both worlds.
The SmartBike DC, "private-public venture," will open up 10 areas around the Washington DC area with bikes which you can check out for 3 hours at a time for a small fee of $40 a year. This is really great idea, but I wonder if it will actually work.
"Similar programs have proved successful in Europe. The Vélib program in Paris and Bicing in Barcelona, Spain, both started around a year ago and already offer thousands of bicycles."
I think this is probably a good way get people into the mode of riding bicycles quickly, but the educational part is lacking. Maybe this company can expand itself to provide what the Yellow Bike Project offers. The capability to fix your own bike is essential, but SmartBike DC rids you of having to worry about the basic problems which arise from owning a bike. I know many people would find this very useful, but I would personally find the 3 hour time limit very inconvenient.
Granted, the Yellow Bike Project is a non-profit and the SmartBike venture is not. Austin did implement the "bicycle-sharing" program before Washington DC. The execution of SmartBike is slightly different from the Austin Yellow Bike Project, but I think credit should be given to the Yellow Bike Austin project.