Imagine walking to a sidewalk corner and finding a public bicycle. With a cellphone call or swipe of a card, you unlock it from its bike rack and ride it across town. Once at your destination, you steer to the closest bike rack and, with one more call or card swipe, return the bike to the public network. You pay less than $.50 for the trip, and the bike is once again available for the taking.
Bike-sharing already exists in cities across Europe, revolutionizing transportation networks and greening the urban fabric. We highlighted eight cities with successful programs:
Name: Velib’ LauNched: July, 2007 BicycLes: 10,000 statioNs: 750 city popuLatioN: 2.15 million NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 215 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round price structure: Riders can select a oneday card for €1, a weekly card for €5 or an annual card for €29. First half-hour is free. Additional half-hours are priced at €1, €2 and €4. techNoLogy: Smartcard operatiNg compaNy: JC Decaux
By far the largest bike-share program to-date, paris plans to have installed over 10,000 bikes by July, 2007, and 20,000 by 2008. Mayor Bertrand Delanoe launched the Velib’ network as part of his wide-reaching program to green Paris and reduce vehicular traffic in the central city. To help riders navigate the streets, maps and safety manuals in several languages will be available at every station.
Name: Bicing LauNched: March, 2007 BicycLes: 1,500 statioNs: 100 city popuLatioN: 1.5 million NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 1,000 avaiLaBiLity: Year-round, 5am to midnight, 24 hours a day on Friday and Saturday. price structure: Riders must apply via mail for a swipe card and purchase an annual subscription for €24. First half-hour is free. Additional half-hours are priced at €.30, with a maximum rental time of two hours. techNoLogy: Smartcard, and optional credit card. operatiNg compaNy: Clear Channel Adshel
Like many bike-share programs, Bicing offers its users a Google mash-up, with the number of available bikes at every station updated in real-time. BarceLoNa is currently in the process of expanding its program to 3,000 bikes by the end of 2007. As of today, Bicing had attracted 62,000 registered users.
Name: Bycyklen LauNched: 1995 BicycLes: 2,000 statioNs: 110 city popuLatioN: 600,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 400 avaiLaBiLity: April to November price structure: Riders deposit a 20 kroner coin into the bike handlebar to unlock it from the bike rack. Bikes may be rented for unlimited amounts of time, although they may not leave the designated boundary of the old city. The 20 kroner coin is returned when the bike is locked back into the rack. techNoLogy: Coin deposit operatiNg compaNy: City Bike Foundation of Copenhagen
Bycyklen bikes were designed to be simple (they are single-speed), durable and adjustable. They are also conspicuous. In fact, the program is supported in part by advertising placed on each of the bike wheels. copeNhageN has announced the goal of increasing to 5,000 bikes and enlarging the dedicated area.
Name: Call a Bike LauNched: 2003 BicycLes: 720 statioNs: 66 city popuLatioN: 650,000 NumBer of citizeNs per Bike: 900 price structure: 8 cents per minute, with a maximum of €15 per day, and €60 per week. techNoLogy: Mobile phone operatiNg compaNy: Deutsche Bahn
Call a Bike is run in several German cities, including fraNkfurt, through a system of authentication codes that automatically locks and unlocks bikes. Residents can approach any Call-a-Bike bicycle at any major intersection within the city. If the green light is blinking on the lock, the bicycle is available. After registering oneself over the phone, the user calls the number displayed on the lock and is given a key code. Bikes can be returned to the network by locking to any fixed structure (except a traffic signal) and entering a new code into the lock.
Name: Velo’v LauNched: 2005 BicycLes: 3,000...
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