With bike sharing programs taking off in major cities all over the world, I think it’s important to keep updated with all the pro’s and con’s of these programs and think about ways we can design and plan to faciltate for the cyclists using these programs in our cities. Here is an article from Treehugger.com I thought interesting to share.
Bike-Sharing Goes Global: 5 Programs You Should Know About
by Andrew Posner, Providence, Rhode Island on 09. 5.08
What is Bike-Sharing?
If you at all familiar with the Zip Car model of car-sharing, then you should already undersand how bike-sharing works. Essentially, in a bike-share program bicycles are made available at special kiosks or racks that are strategically placed around a city. Users can access the bikes 24 hours a day, either by inserting a credit card or by paying an annual fee for a membership card. The bikes can then be returned at any of the stations in the city. While the details of the program vary by city, the basic concept has caught on and spread like wildfire. In fact, there was even a bike-sharing program in place at this year’s Democratic National Convention!
Bike-Sharing Goes Global
Especially as gas prices rise and the concept of livable cities becomes more popular, cities around the world have begun to embrace bike-sharing as a way to improve quality of life, meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, increase tourism, and so on. Paris, Barcelona, Washington, D.C., Montrealand Mexico City have all implemented such programs, while New York City, Portland and others are in the planning stages.
Parisians Love Their Bike-Share Program
In July of 2007, 1,500 bicycle stations containing 20,000 specially designed bicycles were made available to the public for use around Paris. For a membership fee of $2 a day, or $40 a year, an individual can unlock and use any bike from any station. The first half hour of use is free, at which point the rental fee escalates incrementally (in order to discourage opportunities for theft). The project has been so successful that Paris is also considering an electric car sharing program.
Barcelona Goes Crazy Over the Bici
Treehugger writer Petz Scholtus points out that when, at the end of March, 2007, “the first Bicing stations appeared in Barcelona, most people here were a little sceptical; will they be used? Is it just another act for the upcoming elections? Will they put enough stations around the city for it to work? Will the bikes survive in a city where even pedals get stolen off your bike?
Well, two months later EVERYBODY is talking about the Bicing and most importantly driving one! It works. With 1500 bicycles and 100 stations, connecting other public transport stations such as metro, train, buses and major car parks, the red and white bikes are to be seen all over town. 30.000 (!) people have subscribed online, in these first 2 months, which is what you have to do to be able to borrow a bike.”
Bike-Sharing Lands in Washington, D.C.
Okay, so Washington, D.C. isn’t the first U.S. city to have a bike-share program (Tuscon, Arizona and the University of Washington, among others, beat them to the punch) it is, however, as TH writer Michael Graham Richard pointed out, the first sophisticated bike-share project in the United States. And while they are starting out small, with only 120 bikes at 10 stations, the hope is that it will expand in literal, and metaphorical significance. After all, what happens in Washington reverberates around the world, and we’ve already seen the wild popularity of bike-sharing in various countries and climates.
Bike-Sharing Goes North–To Montreal
TH writer John Laumer was impressed by the summer launch of Montreal’s bike-sharing program. Known as the public bike sharing system, or “PBS”, the program makes use of innovative bike design, solar powered stations, wireless management and software to create a unique, technologically advanced program for the city of Montreal. More info on the system can be found on their website here.
Perhaps most interestingly, riders can find available bicycles via web browsers on their cell phones.
Innovation is another hallmark of the PBS. It employs cutting-edge technologies to their best advantage: the entire system is solar-powered and uses wireless communication. All the components are modular. With no need for permanent installations or external energy sources, the technical platforms that constitute the base of the stations can simply be dropped off at any desired location without incurring expensive infrastructure work. No need to excavate or anchor the platforms to the street. And no need to install electrical or communication cables.
Bike-Sharing in Mexico City
So far, all the bike-sharing programs we’ve seen have been in developed countries (Canada, France, Spain and the U.S.), but Mexico City, which has already invested a lot of money in Bus Rapid Transit, tree planting and bicycle lanes, has launched a bike sharing program of its own. Here is how TH writer Eliza Barclay described the program:
Determined to prove it’s not a just a smog-addled city notorious for traffic and pollution, Mexico City had jumped on the bike-sharing bandwagon and launched its own free program called Mejor En Bici (Spanish link), or Better On Bicycle in English.
We love the jewel-toned wheels of the Mejor en Bici white cruisers, which are available at three sites in the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods, the city’s hipster and eco-friendly stomping grounds. To use the bikes, users must register, sign a form, and leave a piece of identification and a deposit of 200 pesos (about $20), which is returned when the bike is dropped off at the same station.