Capital Bikeshare, the popular Washington-area bicycle program, may get a corporate sponsor and advertising on its iconic red-and-yellow bikes next year.
The Arlington County Board, acting on behalf of the four other governments that participate in the seven-year-old bike-sharing program, unanimously agreed Tuesday night to set an advertising policy and hire a broker to seek sponsors to pay for ads on the bikes and accessories such as helmets, key fobs and other assets, excluding the bike stations. The ultimate sponsor will be chosen in cooperation with the other governments, officials said, and would probably be picked early next year.
Arlington officials said they expect Capital Bikeshare — the third-largest program in the nation, with 3,770 shared bikes and 440 stations in Washington, Arlington, Alexandria and Montgomery and Fairfax counties — will attract a sponsor willing to pay about $750,000 over five years.
Prince George’s County and the city of Falls Church are both expected to join the network soon; Prince George’s alone is expected to add 67 stations.
Other bike-sharing systems around the country have brought in significant revenue from sponsorships, including about $6.8 million per year in New York City from Citibank; about $2.5 million per year in Chicago from the insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield; and $750,000 per year in Minneapolis, also from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Any revenue will be split based on how many Bikeshare stations each city or county has, according to the Arlington County policy.
Advertisers will be able to promote only themselves or their commercial goods or services. The policy prohibits sponsors of tobacco-related or smoking-related products, obscene materials, and illegal products and services.
Noncommercial sponsorships, advertising politics, religion, public policy or controversial issues will not be accepted.
Arlington’s policy says any money earned from sponsorships will go toward the bike-sharing program’s operations and maintenance, expansion and replacement equipment, management, and marketing and promotion of the system.
Arlington and the District jointly launched Capital Bikeshare on Sept. 20, 2010, with 1,100 bikes at 114 stations.