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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sharing a bike across the globe

Challenges and prospects

It turns out that many a visitor to the City of Lights has experienced a similar scene unfolding in front of them with the final realization that these Parisians are not riding their own bikes, but ones that they share with the whole city via the largest system of its kind in the world. The Vélib’ system, as it is called, is so simple that even non-Parisians can try it out. Just walk up to a bike station, purchase a one day pass for about €1, and hop on your new set of wheels. Then, when you’re done exploring the city, return the bike to any open spot at any station in the city.
Seems logical, doesn’t it? It’s rather common for first time encounters with setups like Vélib’ in Paris, SmartBike in Washington DC, or BIXI in Montreal to yield wide-eyed “Why doesn’t my city do this?” reactions. As busy people with places to go and things to do, we all need easy, affordable and accessible transportation. And living at a time when environmental awareness is more and more the norm rather than the exception, reduced emissions and earth-friendliness are becoming increasingly major factors in the way we select how we get around. In theory, bike sharing checks off all of the criteria on that list with a bold confidence. But does it measure up in real life?

To follow the bike shared programmes, click on this blog. Below, some other programmes

Nice Ride (Minneapolis, MN): Minneapolis is a city with 43 miles of bicycle lanes, over 80 miles of off-street paths and more bikeways on the way. Their bike share program, Nice Ride, was launched in June 2010 and claims to be the nation's largest bike sharing program. The Nice Ride system is a combination of your subscription price, plus trip fees: subscriptions are available for 24 hours ($5), 30 days ($30), 1 year ($60, or $50 for students); the first 30-minutes are free and each additional half-hour is charged in $1.50-$6 increments. Nice Ride bicycles are available 24/7 from April to November (all Nice Ride stations will be removed from the streets during the snowy winter months).
BIXI (Montréal, QC): Upon seeing the success and popularity of bike share programs in Europe, the city of Montréal decided to institute a their own system to complement existing public transportation as well as provide an alternative transportation option for residents and tourists. BIXI (BIcycle + taXI = BIXI), is a system is in service 24/7 from May until November (bikes are removed during winter months). Subscriptions are available for 24 hours ($5), 30 days ($28) and 1 year ($78); the first 30-minutes are free and each additional half-hour is charged in $1.50-$6 increments. BIXI even has a convenient iPhone app to find your nearest station and the number of bikes and bike docks available in real time (this information is also available on Google Maps).
Barclays Cycle Hire (London): Launched just last week (July 30th, 2010), Barclays Cycle Hire was developed by the BIXI system. More than 6,000 bikes and 400 docking stations will be deployed in the project’s first phase, the extensions planned for the future.
SmartBike DC (Washington, DC): With successful bike share programs across Europe, SmartBike launched the US's first bike share program 2 years ago in the nation's capital, Washington DC. Subscriptions are currently unavailable while the program rebrands itself as Capital Bikeshare and expands from 100 bikes to 100 stations and 1000 bikes, with expansion expected to be completed by Fall 2010. For more information visit DDOT orCapital Bikeshare.
B-cycle (Denver & Chicago): B-cycle was recently launched in Denver and is encouraging riders accross the country to get a bikeshare system in their own city. Membership options and costs vary depending on city, but most are available in day, week, month or year increments (discounts available for students and seniors) with the first 30-60 minutes per use free. As recently as July 26, B-cycle announced the launch of a new system in Chicago — for more information visit Chicago B-cycle.

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