Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bike-sharing Wrap-up for 2008

This year has been another banner year for bike-sharing! Some time ago I made the prediction that bike-sharing would spread faster than any other mode of transit, but I’ve got whiplash at how fast the growth is happening. At this time last year there were 60 programs in existence. Now there are 92 bike-sharing programs up-and-running around the world with many more in various stages of planning for a 2009 launch. So that’s why it seemed like there was a new launch every other week - because there was!

This year has seen the first bike-sharing programs in North America, Asia, Australia, and South America. My hometown of Washington, D.C. launched North America’s first program with Denver and Montreal following a few weeks later. Asia kicked-off bike-sharing with Beijing, just in time for the Olympics, and then Shanghai. The Australian continent saw Kiwis begin service in Auckland. South America rounded out the year with Rio de Janiero and Santiago launching just before we change the calendars. The remainder of this year’s 24 programs started across Europe from Seville to Krakow. Africa has yet to launch a program, however, hopefully will do so in the upcoming year.

My predictions for 2009 are that bike-sharing will see another good year, despite the downturn in the global economy. Governments will have less money to spend on public services, however, in reviewing the cost of moving people (rather than of moving vehicles), they will see that bike-sharing strongly competes with other modes of transportation for short-distance trips. Accordingly, I predict 40 new programs will launch internationally next year.

Secondly, the provision of programs with advertising contracts has been the predominant vehicle to initiate services to date. Today, more companies producing off-the-shelf technologies exist. This will lead to programs which are not sponsored by advertising contracts, but rather by local governments and entrepreneurs. More cities with smaller populations, call them 2nd and 3rd tier cities, which couldn’t support large advertising contracts will see bike-sharing services.

Thirdly, university programs will take-off. There is intense interest coming from universities which have their own transportation needs and transportation budgets. Due to this, they have the ability to select the systems that best meet their needs and provide the density of bikes and stations the university requires, which the city in some cases couldn’t provide.

In a time when global climate change issues have never been more important, The Bike-sharing Blog is there to help citizen advocates, businesspeople, public officials, and others better understand what bike-sharing is and how it could be useful in their own communities. The Bike-sharing Blog continues to be the world’s number one source of information regarding this concept. Links to programs around the world, fascinating research and articles, and a translation widget helps make the information manageable and useful to its readers. I always want to make this even better, so your thoughts are always welcome. Thanks to many of its readers sending information about the happenings in their communities, I’m able to keep The Bike-sharing Blog and The Bike-sharing World Map up-to-date. This blog is more than a passion for me, it's part of a movement towards better transportation.

I want to thank you for reading The Bike-sharing Blog and here’s to a happy, healthy, and green 2009!

Paul DeMaio
MetroBike, LLC

Monday, December 29, 2008

Transportation Research Board Workshop - Jan. 11

If you'll be in the Washington, D.C. area this January 11, stop by the Transportation Research Board's workshop on bike-sharing. This event is open to the public and is guaranteed to be interesting. I'll be speaking on the panel about the status of bike-sharing systems in North America as well.

Here are the details about the event:

Workshop 168
Public Bicycle Systems: A New Approach to Urban Mobility
Sunday, January 11, 2009, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, Hilton (1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW)
David Brook, Carsharing Consultant, presiding

Note: With the launch of the Paris Velib system, interest in public bicycle systems has skyrocketed in the past few years. Washington, DC and Montreal have launched their systems, and other cities are planning major programs. This workshop provides a detailed look at the role of public bicycles in urban mobility and discusses implementation considerations for planners. A round table discussion with speakers and guests will follow. At the end of the session, we will visit a nearby smart bike station.

New Mobility - How Public Bicycle Sharing Can Play an Important Role (P09-1331)
Sue Zielinski, University of Michigan

Status of Public Bike Systems in North America and Implementation Issues (P09-1333)
Paul DeMaio, MetroBike LLC

Findings from EasyConnect: A Public Shared Bike System (P09-1335)
Susan A. Shaheen, University of California, Berkeley

Bixi - Montreal Public Bicycle System (P09-1764)
Alain Ayotte, Stationnement de Montréal

Roundtable Discussion on Public Bike System Implementation and Policy (P09-1342)
Clayton Lane, Consultant

Bike Milan with BikeMi

BikeMi debuted this month in Milan with 100 stations and 1,200 bikes. The system expects 300 stations and 5,000 bikes by end of 2009. A yearly subscription of €25 is available offering the first 30 minutes at no charge with graduated rates for additional time. There is a plan for weekly and daily rates for residents and tourists according to My-Milan.

image credit: KataWeb

Thanks to Russell Meddin, Bike Share Philadelphia.

Monday, December 22, 2008

First South American Programs Underway

South America has launched not one, but two bike-sharing programs this month - in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and Santiago, Chile. Both programs were rushing to be the first on the continent, with respective launches on December 4th and 9th.

Rio’s system, Samba, launched with 30 bikes and three stations in Copacabana. By the end of December, the program will expand to have 80 bikes and eight stations, also in Copacabana. Each month the system will grow to a nearby neighborhood until at 15 months the program will be represented in eight neighborhoods with 500 bikes and 50 stations.

Presently, Samba is in testing with a limited group. In January 2009, the program will be opened to the general public. The first 30 minutes of use will be free for customers.

Providencia, a borough of Chile’s capital city, Santiago, launched b’easy with 100 bikes and 10 stations. The bikes are available from 7:30am to 8:30pm for up to one hour per use with a monthly subscription of $1.50 USD or a yearly subscription of $12.50 USD. Subscribers sign up either at a station or online. The system was created by Centrolniciativa, a business incubator, of the Economics Faculty of Diego Portales University. It uses locally fabricated bikes, stations, and subscription card readers. Mayor Cristián Labbé of Providencia hopes b’easy is adopted throughout the boroughs of the city.

Special thanks to Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the U.S. recently showed a program on bike-sharing in a series called e² which is "about the economies of being environmentally conscious." The synopsis: "Paris’ ambitious public-private Vélib’ bike initiative encourages residents to forgo cars for bikes and public transportation. In the process, the program has fostered a unique popular culture, complete with its own language, jokes and pick-up lines. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has undoubtedly taken heart: Its success has inspired cities like Rome, San Francisco and London to begin adopting similar programs of their own."

A 3-minute excerpt from the program is available. The 30-minute program can also be streamed on-line. From the link, click on Webcasts and then Paris: Velo Liberte'.

image credit:

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

The folks in Barcelona aren't dreaming of a white Christmas, they prefer a green Christmas. As reported in WIRED, two Christmas "trees" in the city's square of Mercat Santa Catalina are being lit up by pedal power provided by passersby and Bicing bicycles.

image credit: WIRED

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

City of Ciclovia wants to be the City of Ciclovida

According to Elespectador, Councilman Carlos Ferreira Orlando of Bogotá, Columbia, wants to create "BIKE-BOGOTA", an Integrated Public Transport System in the Capital District to make an “urban revolution of two wheels.” This would include bike-share stations at subway and light rail stations, universities, colleges, and malls on or near the 350 kilometers of bike paths in the city. This bike-share system would use a prepaid rechargeable card from which the rental fee of each use would be deducted.

Image credit: Elespectador

Special thanks to Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Melbourne in the Works

From the Melbourne Herald Sun:

"MELBOURNE will get a European-style bicycle hire scheme for short trips made around town.

"The Victorian Transport Plan has committed $105 million (Australian dollars) for bicycle initiatives, with most spent on improving paths and lanes.

"Under the new Public Bicycle System, about 50 stations will be set up in the inner city housing 600 bikes.

"It is scheduled to be operational by 2010."

The article states there may be some funding issues to work out. Stay tuned...

image credit: AAHA-AUSTRALIA

Friday, December 5, 2008

The History of Bike-sharing

For those new to bike-sharing, an article I wrote for Carbusters Magazine called "The Bike-sharing Phenomenon - The History of Bike-sharing" provides a brief history of the concept from its earliest beginnings in 1964 Amsterdam as a radical movement to its latest incarnations as transit solutions to modern global problems. Check it out. It's a good introductory read.

Image credit: Carbusters Magazine

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Aloha Hawai'i

According to the Honolulu Advertiser the Hawai'ian island of O'ahu may see bike-sharing's launch as early as June 1. Momentum B-cycle, as the program will be called, will offer 100 bikes at 10 solar-powered stations. "The start-up cost is about $400,000 and will be privately funded", said Nguyen Le, owner of Momentum MultiSport Hawaii, the company that is behind the program's development.

The article states "the first half-hour of ride time will be free. The next half-hour costs riders $2, the next 30 minutes is $5 and so on. Billing will stop at $100, but if a bike isn't returned within 48 hours, the user's credit card will be billed the cost of the bike — currently $900."

"Another thing working in favor of Momentum B-cycle," says the article, "is the planned rail system. The city's master bike plan, scheduled to be released next summer, is expected to include bike paths near rail stops,' Chris Sayers, bicycle coordinator for the [Honolulu] Department of Transportation said.

" 'If rail is on schedule and the master bike plan is implemented, the two could come together with bike-sharing to make it easier to use mass transit,' " Sayers said. " 'With bike sharing you need critical mass to make it work. I know if it were available when transit comes I could see taking the rail to get to Kapolei, then bike-share over to the West O'ahu campus.' "

B-cycle is the newest product of healthcare provider Humana, which has improved upon its Freewheelin' bike-sharing system which was used at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the U.S. during this past August and September.

image credit: Momentum MultiSport Hawaii

Thursday, November 20, 2008

London's Mayor: a Cyclised City is a Civilised City

London Mayor Boris Johnson is quoted in the UK's Guardian newspaper as having said: "I have long held the view that a cyclised city is a civilised city, but if we are to get more Londoners on to two wheels rather than four we need to provide the facilities to help them do so."

This is why he has tasked Transport for London (TfL) with releasing a tender to initiate the city's bike-sharing program for a May 2010 launch. According to the TfL site, the City of London and its buroughs want 6,000 bikes at 400 stations with stations every 300m. "It is expected that an initial 6,000 bikes would prompt around 40,000 extra daily cycle trips in central London by 2010," says the Guardian.

While significantly smaller than Paris' Velib' with 20,600 bikes, London's program would be one of world's largest, sharing the recognition with Barcelona's Bicing. London has seen tremendous growth in cycling this decade "with a 91% increase on London's major roads since 2000", says the Guardian. Much of this increase is due to London's tremendously successful congestion charging scheme which requires motorists to pay a fee of £8 ($12 USD) to enter the center city. Due to the cost of the congestion charge, it has shifted many auto trips to transit, biking, and walking, thereby improving congestion and air quality.

"I hope a central-London cycle-hire scheme will inspire Londoners as a whole, and not just the adventurous few, to get on their bikes and give cycling a go. I believe that the work we are carrying out can make the capital a city of cyclists, where to use two wheels is common, not curious," said Mayor Johnson.

image credit: Transport for London

Friday, November 14, 2008

Minneapolis Picks a Winner

As reported in Downtown Journal, Minneapolis has selected a bike-sharing system vendor and hopes to launch its $3 million program in May 2009 with 1,000 bikes at 75 stations. The City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation, a non-profit which will manage the program, selected Public Bike System as the system vendor.

According to Downtown Journal, "The bikes proposed for Minneapolis were designed by Stationnement de Montréal, which is the city of Montreal’s parking authority. The agency is launching a bike sharing [sic] program in Montreal next spring and it beat out six other companies to take the Minneapolis job." Stationnement de Montréal spun off Public Bike System into a non-profit to provide its system to other cities.

For more info about the Minneapolis program, visit Public Bicycle Sharing in the Twin Cities.

photo credit: Downtown Journal

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bixi Ranks in TIME's Best Inventions of '08

TIME magazine came out with a list of its 50 Best Inventions of 2008 and Montreal's Public Bike System (aka Bixi) ranked as their 19th best of the year. I won't squabble with TIME for putting it after the New Mars Rover even though fewer people have been to Mars to see the Rover in-action compared with the thousands that saw Bixi during its demonstration period this fall.

With the millions of trips that will be made on Bixi after its launch in April 2009 with 2,400 bikes, the program will prevent tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from being released into the atmosphere that would have been emitted by motor vehicles. The program will also create a healthier public by adding exercise into the daily lives of its customers.

Congratulations, Montreal on this much deserved honor.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

University Bike-sharing's Time has Come

Thirteen years after the first 3rd generation (high tech) university bike-sharing program, Bikeabout, was launched at Portsmouth University in Portsmouth, UK, North America will see its very own automated system with the launch of St. Xavier University’s program within the next few days. The Green Bike Program will allow students, faculty, and staff at the Chicago university to use their ID cards or obtain an access code to the lock via text message.

The bike-sharing system they will be using is called Veloway and is from the French transportation company, Veolia. The cost to use one of the 65 bikes will be free for the first 15 minutes and then be 60 cents for each additional 15 minutes. As The Examiner reports, “[St. Xavier University’s] interest in the bike program is part of a larger commitment to a carbon-neutral campus environment, called the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.”

The cost of the Green Bike program is not cheap, however, compared to alternatives, it is a great deal for the university. The Examiner reports “the initial costs [total] $250,000 and $3,000 for monthly costs”, for a first year total approaching $290,000. Future year costs likely will include only the monthly costs unless the size of the bike-sharing fleet expands, requiring more bikes and stations. A report by George Mason University of Fairfax, Virginia, my alma mater, states the cost of constructing each parking space at the University is $7,000 with an annual maintenance cost of $1,000 (see the report in the Research section of the Blog). Therefore, university facility managers could exchange the construction of 41 new parking spaces for a bike-sharing program the size of St. Xavier’s.

Universities are in many ways an ideal location for bike-sharing. With a young demographic and individuals who are generally more active, car-free, and willing to bike, bike-sharing will likely take-off. As the Bikeabout report (see Research section of The Bike-sharing Blog) states, a survey of Bikeabout users from Portsmouth University’s program “discovered that 33% of Bikeabout users were people who did not have a bicycle and most of them had not used a bicycle for several years. The scheme was thus re-introducing people back to bicycles.” A U.S. travel survey shows that the number one reason people don’t bike is not that they don’t feel safe cycling or the weather is poor, but rather they don’t have a bike. Bike-sharing fixes this as it makes bikes easily accessible, thus encouraging bike use.

Of Bikeabout trips, “[a]lmost one fifth of the journeys were previously made using a car. For these people the attraction of the scheme was a willingness to travel in a more 'environmentally friendly' manner, or to do more exercise. However, the largest (41.5%) modal substitution to Bikeabout bicycles was from walking, probably because the scheme offered significant time savings. The scheme also generated a number of new journeys; by improving personal mobility a number of new trips have now become possible within a reasonable period of time.”

“15.5% of journeys were previously made by public transport. The bicycles offer a door-to-door alternative that the bus cannot provide. The relative time flexibility of the bicycle compared to mass-transit was also evident in the number of transfers (13%) from the University’s mini-bus service.”

As a New York Times article this past week shows, bike-sharing is catching on at American universities. Whether universities are using 1st generation (no tech) systems, 2nd generation coin-deposit systems, or 3rd generation (high tech) systems like St. Xavier, bike-sharing’s time has come for campuses.

photo credit: Veolia

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bixi Video

One of the finer aspects of Bixi is how easily its stations can be assembled. There is no demolition of concrete or asphalt for the undergrounding of wires nor the need for an electrical hook-up as Bixi is solar-powered. Assembly, in fact, only takes a few seconds (give or take) in this time-elapsed video of one of Bixi's first modular stations.

Thanks to Russell at Bike Share Philadelphia for sharing this video.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Before Copenhagen - Early 2nd Generation Programs

Even before Copenhagen launched its Bycyklen (i.e., "City Bikes") in 1995, Denmark had been experimenting with 2nd generation bike-sharing systems for a few years. The cities of Farso and Grena had 2nd generation programs as early as 1991 with Nakskov launching in August 1993 with a fleet of 26 bicycles and parking at four stations.

The image above taken from "The Bicycle in Denmark" published by the Danish Ministry of Transport in 1993 shows what appears to have a coin-deposit lock which when a coin was inserted, would push out the key, thereby unlocking the bike from the station. This publication mentions the Eurobike company which worked with Nakskov on its bike-sharing program. My guess is Copenhagen's bikes were based on these bikes, but with improvements to make them more utilitarian. Copenhagen's bikes were developed by a different designer - Cycle Importers of Scandanavia (CIOS).

In other Copenhagen news, as the 2nd generation coin-deposit lock is prone to theft, Copenhagen is considering 3rd generation models to implement in the future.

image credit: Danish Ministry of Transport

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bike-sharing's Biggest Friend - Shanghai (or 16 Million Biggest Friends)

According to AFP, Shanghai began testing a bike-sharing system last Monday. "The programme was launched to coincide with World Car Free Day [..] and is part of the city's preparations to host the 2010 World Expo, whose theme is 'Better City, Better Life,' Shanghai Metro said.

"If successful, the programme will be expanded to 800 stands outside metro station exits and on 2,700 other sites in business and residential areas by 2012, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

"To use the system, riders must pay a 200 yuan (29 dollars) deposit and are charged one to three yuan an hour on a progressive system designed to encourage short rents and quick turnover. The first half hour is free.

"The bicycles are being supplied by the Shanghai Forever Bicycle Company, one of Shanghai's oldest bicycle brands.

"Shanghai-made Forever, Phoenix and Flying Pigeon brand bicycles used to dominate the city's roads, but as China has become more affluent cars have taken over.

"The city recently banned bicycles from travelling on select major roads to prevent them from slowing down motorists."

The potential for bike-sharing in China is huge. According to People's Daily Online, China "had more than 660 cities by the end of 2002 of which 10 had populations of more than 4 million each in the urban area; 23, between 2 and 4 million; 138, between 1 and 2 million; 279, between 500,000 and 1 million; 171, between 200,000 and 500,000; and 39, less than 200,000." Cities with all these sizes, as well as those smaller than 200,000 residents, are capable of supporting bike-sharing. So with 660 cities plus likely a few more since 2002, governments have a clean slate to implement programs in a country that is known for once having one of, if not THE world's greatest cycle culture. The question which Earth's climate may very well depend on is can China bring back it's former glory as being a leader in bicycle use?

photo credit: Shanghai Daily

p.s. - It's interesting to note that Shanghai Metro is running the program. A transit agency running a bike transit program, what a concept!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Introducing Montreal's Bixi

On Sunday, September 21, Montreal's mayor Gérald Tremblay kicked off their city's newest transit service - Bixi - with 40 bikes at four stations for a 6-week free fall demonstration period before a grand launch next April 15 with 2,400 bikes. The program's name (sounds like "Dixie" with a B instead of a D), a combination of bicycle and taxi, was created by an individual in a public contest and voted on by the program's future customers.

"High-tech and vandalism-resistant, Montreal's bikes feature comfy seats, three speeds and raised handlebars, and will be stationed at solar-powered docking stations that can be moved according to demand. The first half-hour will be free, the next half hour $1.50, and successive half-hours get pricier; the objective is to use the bikes for short hauls," reports Canada's Globe and Mail.

Additionally, "The parking authority invested $15-million into Bixi, but says it expects to break even; 80 per cent of costs are expected to be defrayed through memberships, which would cost $78 a year or $28 a month." A 24-hour pass is available for $5.

Having recently visited Stationnement de Montreal (Montreal Parking) last month, I was quite impressed with their system and business model. They are one of the first bike-sharing service providers of which I'm aware that are not advertising-centric, but rather mobility-centric as with their other duties with managing Montreal's parking with the quasi-governmental organization. Other mobility providers like departments of transportation take note on this means of provision. This is a new model which I'm sure will do well.

Montrealais, enjoy.

photos credit: Stationnement de Montreal

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toronto Bike-sharing Forum

Following the lead of other clean transportation activist groups from around North America, the following is a press release, hot off the virtual presses, from the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation:

"On Thursday, September 18th, The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation, the Clean Air Partnership
and the Community Bicycle Network will bring together a series of exciting presentations focused at sparking community discussion on public bike sharing in Toronto. We are excited to screen the short film Bike Share in Paris by Streetfilms, exploring the Vélib bike sharing revolution in Paris. Following the short film screening, we will be engaging the community in a stimulating discussion through a series of three presentations. Veolia Transportation’s David Boyce will give a presentation on the history of bike sharing systems and the OYBike street-based bicycle rental technology that is accessed via mobile phone. From a local angle, the Community Bicycle Network’s Herb van den Dool will offer an historical perspective on bike sharing in Toronto. Finally, Alain Ayotte will offer some insights on the challenges of
starting to implement North America’s largest and most promising bike sharing program in Montreal.

"This community forum will be coupled with a follow-up stakeholder roundtable, and a summary of both consultation
sessions will be submitted to the City of Toronto as a research report that will feed into the City’s process for planning a public bike sharing system.

"WHAT: Bikes as a Public Good: What is the future of public bike sharing in Toronto?
WHEN: Thursday September 18th, 7:30 pm
WHERE: Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto
(northwest corner of St. George Street and Sussex Avenue)
WHO: David Boyce, Veolia Transportation, USA
Herb van den Dool, BikeShare, Community Bicycle Network, Toronto
Alain Ayotte, Montreal Public Bike System, Stationnement de Montreal
Hosted by Dave Meslin

"For more information contact: Fred Sztabinski, Project Coordinator, Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation
(TCAT), 416-392-0290,

"For the full list of speakers, podcasts, and PowerPoint presentations visit:"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Democrats Out-bike Republicans at Political Conventions

According to The Denver Post, "Nearly three times as many riders took advantage of the [Freewheelin'] bike-sharing program during the Democratic National Convention [(DNC)] in Denver than during the Republican counterpart in St. Paul, Minnesota, last week, according to program officials. About 5,550 riders pedaled 26,583 miles during the DNC, while 1,973 rode about 15,141 miles during the [Republican National Convention], the group Freewheelin reported Monday."

If this is the first you're reading on this, I posted about Freewheelin' earlier.

To be fair, it's worth pointing out that the first day of the Republican National Convention was substantially trimmed due to Hurricane Hanna. However, there is interestingly a gap between the ridership of the two parties at the conventions. Bicycling is not an issue to be politicized though. I'll follow that up with: as the Green Party says, "Neither left nor right, but ahead." Bicycling is an issue which helps societies move ahead.

Bicycling is a health issue. It's a mobility issue. An environmental issue. It's just fun. With Presidential elections in the U.S. just about 80 days away, it's time that bicycling gets the priority and funding it needs with the next person in the White House so that it becomes a respectable and safe mode of transportation for a lot of us United States-ers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

You Betcha, Minneapolis & St. Paul

From a press release:

Announcing Twin Cities Bike Share Project

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has committed to bring bike sharing to the Twin Cities in 2009. The Proposed Phase 1 public bicycle sharing system will focus on downtown Minneapolis, the main campus of the University of Minnesota, and the Uptown neighborhood. The City has partnered with Metro Transit, the University of Minnesota, bicycle advocacy groups, and local bike shops to develop a proposed system design. That system will complement public transportation by making it possible for students and workers who commute by bus or train to get to class or to their next meeting by the fastest, healthiest, and most fun mode of transportation on downtown streets—the bicycle. For more information and to view a request for proposals, go to

Friday, August 29, 2008

Freewheelin Sets Wheels Free in Denver

With the Democratic National Convention having wrapped up last night, Freewheelin has opened the minds of many Americans about what bike-sharing is and what it could be for their home city. According to MarketWatch, "riders took 5,552 Freewheelin rides this week, logging 26,493 miles ridden in and around downtown Denver. That equals 821,304 calories burned and a carbon-footprint reduction of 9.3 metric tones. The rides/miles goal for the DNC and RNC combined is 10,000 rides and 25,000 miles; riders in Denver have already eclipsed the miles goal."

OK, Republican conventioneers, now it's your turn to show which party is the king of bike-sharing. Freewheelin's next stop is Minneapolis and St. Paul this Saturday, August 30. At 10 a.m., leaders of the Republican National Convention host cities will lead an inaugural Freewheelin ride through Minneapolis. The Freewheelin' stands will be open September 1 - 4 from 7am - 7pm at seven locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Image credit: Freewheelin

Toronto Going for Green

According to an article in Canada's Globe and Mail, Toronto Councillor Adrian Heaps "expects to announce the rent-a-bike program by the end of October" with a Summer 2009 launch.

The term "rent-a-bike" is the article author's terminology. Calling bike-sharing "rent-a-bike" is like calling a fine California wine "grape juice". Rent-a-bike is what bike shops do. Bike-sharing is what cities and universities do. One is recreation, the other is transit.

The article continues, " '[The bike-sharing service] should be privately run. I'm of firm belief [the city] should have no role in running it, though we certainly should be setting the standards,' Mr. Heaps said.

"But lack of funding has blocked at least one similar endeavour. Toronto's Community Bicycle Network bike-share program sank in 2006 after they it find the funds, said mechanic co-ordinator Sherri Byer.

"The network charged membership fees of about $35 and relied on grants, she said, but it wasn't enough. Still, the market is there."

The Community Bicycle Network ran Toronto Bikeshare, a great 2nd generation program operated by highly dedicated individuals. Registered customers could access bikes by speaking with the shop owner, University of Toronto staff member, or other individual who had a key to unlock the bikes from a rack just outside of the respective organization's building. These were yellow utilitarian bikes and wheelbender racks. It wasn't high tech to be sure, but for a low budget program it was a good economical idea that worked for many years.

When I visited Toronto Bikeshare a few years ago I was impressed with Toronto's bike infrastructure and bike mode split. I'm sure bike-sharing will do well there. I imagine the tender for an operating would be out next month. Stay tuned Torontonians.

photo credit: urbanmkr

Don't Forget the Suburbs

If you thought 20,600 Velib' in Paris was a lot, well try on 28,100 for size. According to Conde Nast Traveler, Velib' will be expanding by the end of the year by 7,500 new bikes and 300 stations to Paris' inner suburbs. For those keeping track, Velib' will be expanding by a quantity of bikes that, if as its own separate program, would be the second largest program in the world.

It looks like it's smooth riding for even more Parisians.

image credit: batigolix

Friday, August 22, 2008

Streetfilms on SmartBike DC

The good folks from Streetfilms recently came to D.C. to check-out our new SmartBike DC program and I joined them. This was our maiden voyage on the bikes and enthusiasticly I give the system the grade of an A-. The bikes were comfortable, clean, tires had good air pressure, the bike handled turns well, and the gears worked smoothly. The only problem was the station's computer was having a short-lived technical issue which fixed itself.

I understand that 350 memberships have been sold so far and that a limit of memberships may have to be put in place until more bikes and stations can be put out. If a limit were put into place, I hope D.C. residents are prioritized in who may receive their smartcards as their public space is paying for the program. This wouldn't be a first. Barcelona also limited membership to residents when they first started.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Democratic National Convention Bike-sharing Program About to Roll

The following is a press release from Humana about its upcoming launch of Freewheelin' at the Democratic National Convention in a few days. The stations with a total of 1,000 bikes will be attended by volunteers during the Convention and 70 bikes will remain afterwards at the automated stations.

Who Obama chooses as his Vice Presidential candidate is important, but moreso, will Obama ride? We'll see.


Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper Leads 100 Cyclists Through Streets of Denver to Launch Freewheelin Bike-sharing Program

WHAT: A 100-cyclist ride event with Mayor John Hickenlooper through the streets of Denver to kick off Freewheelin, the nation’s largest bike-sharing program to date, debuting at the Democratic National Convention. Legislators, convention attendees and city residents are invited to kick up their kickstands and be one of the first to experience bike-sharing, the international social movement whereby bikes are situated at designated stations throughout cities for individuals to use for a specified amount of time. The three-mile ride will end at Sculpture Park where brunch will be served.

WHEN: Sunday, August 24, 2008
11 a.m. – Participant arrival at Freewheelin warehouse (see address below)
11:30 a.m. – Ride event commences

WHERE: Freewheelin warehouse
4120 Brighton Blvd., Unit A-2 Denver, CO 80216

MORE: Through a unique partnership between Humana and Bikes Belong, the Freewheelin bike-sharing experience will be in Denver for the duration of the convention (Aug. 25–Aug. 28). The city will be outfitted with 1,000 bikes for free use during the convention week. Bikes can be accessed via the various bike stations that will be set up throughout the city. Riders will also be able to track miles ridden, personal carbon reduction and calories burned.

For more information or to register to be a part of the Freewheelin effort, please visit:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sneak Peek at Montreal

I recently returned from visiting the good folks at Stationnement de Montréal in Quebec, Canada. They are the city's public-private partnership agency that is tasked with ensuring "the optimal management of paid on-street and off-street public parking to promote the development of economic activity." They are the city's parking agency, plain and simple. Not happy with the advertising model of bike-sharing which has become the norm, they stepped up to the task of developing their own bike-sharing technology with their own funds - $15M of them.

Unlike other kiosk systems, Montreal's system is designed with a platform which will be uninstalled for the cold season, considering that January averages 12 degrees Fahrenheit (-11 degrees Celcius). Call me a whimp, but that's well below my line where I'm not riding. Rather than the expense of hooking each station up with power, Montreal's system will be powered by the sun - two small solar panels will electrify each station. Key fobs will be used in place of smartcards to make rummaging around in one's wallet or purse easier as the fob simply can be added to one's keychain. The bikes are step-thru models specially designed for the program and appear streamlined and durable. As Stationnement de Montreal says on the Website, their bike-sharing system "was inspired by other systems already in place in cities around the world, taking the best elements from each and avoiding errors that have been made along the way."

As I've blogged about before, they are allowing the public to come up with the program's name through their "Find my name!" Website. This is a good way to create buzz about the soon-to-launch program, generate civic pride, and it sure beats paying an ad agency thousands of dollars to do the same thing. Voting ends in three weeks and the grand prize is a lifetime membership with the program. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Montreal is planning to have a soft launch in September with 40 bikes at four stations before closing the program for their harsh winter. During their cold season when only the truly die-hard are biking, Stationnement de Montreal will tweak the system and get it ready for the big launch in Spring 2009 with 2,400 bikes at 300 stations. This will surely make it the largest bike-sharing program in North America at that time. Much research and design has gone into this system and I believe it will do very well.

Bike-sharing will do well in Montreal as it's a great city for biking, likely one of the best in North America. Rather than the uni-directional cycle tracks, or physically separated bike lanes, that are more common in bike-friendly cities and towns, Montreal has bi-directional cycle tracks. It's a wider track made for two-way bike traffic. The cycle tracks downtown have a concrete divider separating them from motor vehicle traffic and the residential neighborhoods have a parking lane separating cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. The physical separation makes all the difference in encouraging cycling. It's more than a coincidence that most of the bike-friendly jurisdictions are those which have cycle tracks.

image credits: MetroBike and Stationnement de Montreal

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Washington, D.C. Launches North America’s First Bike-sharing

It’s official! North America’s first high-tech bike-sharing program has launched! SmartBike DC opened for business today with 60 of its 120 bikes and 10 stations becoming available to the public. According to The Washington Post, Jim Sebastian, DC’s Bicycle Program Manager has said that the service will only be available to registered customers. The launch should provide the D.C. government and the program’s operator, Clear Channel Outdoor, sufficient time to expand and adjust the program for a larger program next year.

Today marks the beginning of a new era for bicycling in the United States. Due to fuel prices and the resultant affects such as the beginning of a contraction of exurbs (or distant suburbs) and shifts away from single occupant vehicle travel to transit and biking, a colleague has said that the U.S. is beginning to renegotiate the social contract we have with public space.

For a video on the bikes, local TV station NBC4 has this.

Upcoming launches in North America should be as follows:

Democratic National Convention (Denver) - Freewheelin' by Humana


Republican National Convention (Minneapolis & St. Paul) - Freewheelin'
St. Xavier Univ. (Chicago) - Veolia
Montreal - Public Bike System by Stationnement de Montreal

It's going to be a busy fall, bike-share fans!

image credit: Getty Images

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pre-registration Now Available for Political Conventions' Bike-sharing

Pre-registration for the bike-sharing programs at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul-Minneapolis is available at For those who plan to be in these cities during the conventions, this is the first step of a streamlined process to introduce people to shared bike systems that are to be showcased to policy makers, guests, and citizens. Pre-registration is quick and easy and makes completion of the registration process at each event simple. Use of the systems will be free with a photo ID, and a valid credit card is required for collateral. The temporary bike-sharing systems in both cities have been facilitated by generous contributions and support from Bikes Belong, Humana, numerous bicycle manufacturers, as well as dedicated city governments, advocacy organizations, and citizens of each locale.

SmartBike DC Beta testing

According to DCist, SmartBike DC has begun beta testing to ensure the technology is operating correctly. Folks may apply for their smartcard now at the program Website. The launch is near!

Boston in 2010?

Boston has released a Request for Information to learn more about bike-sharing technologies and models for implementation. They're estimating the first phase of the project to include 450 bikes, 1,000 for the second phase, and "over 1,500" for the third.

Boston's bike-sharing program objectives are to:

"- Launch a successful bike-sharing program on or before May 2010 that is financially
sound, has the ability to expand in subsequent years, and is capable of meeting negotiated performance standards;
- Create an additional green public transit mode that is used by 15-50,000 people a day;
- Create 50 green jobs and promote green business in Boston;
- Increase the mode share of cycling in the city – target an increase in mode share from 0.5% to 2%-5%;
- Facilitate transit for commuters, tourists, and other visitors.
- Ensure that the service is capable of operating independently without long-term public investment; and
- Provide a service that results in high rates of membership satisfaction."

It's great to see Boston interested in bike-sharing. They've recently hired the city's first bicycle coordinator and have a lot to do to make Boston into a truly bike-friendly city. However, with the Request for Information, they are well on their way.

image credit: Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

San Francisco Update

The City of San Francisco is working towards its own bike-sharing program, however, due to a legal challenge preventing any bicycle-related development, San Francisco hasn't been able to make much progress towards bike transit... until now. According to an article in The Examiner, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom "said he’s found a way to start a smaller [bike-sharing] program without violating the court-ordered bike plan injunction: offer an internal network only for the City’s 28,000 or so employees."

" 'The [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] is developing details in the next few months and will implement the program for city employees soon,' said the Agency's director Nathaniel Ford. 'We are in discussions with Clear Channel about the bike-share component,' Ford said. 'When the bike injunction is lifted, we will implement it citywide.' "

The lawsuit stems from the Coalition for Adequate Review which sued San Francisco last year, "claiming that the bicycle plan should be subject to environmental review because it makes physical changes to the City’s streetscape," writes The Examiner. "The group cited the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires public projects to undergo a review if they might alter the environment. In order to come into compliance with CEQA, the City must either conduct an environmental impact review or become exempt from the process."

Thanks to a heads up by WashCycle for this article.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back to the Future for Melbourne

Just when you think that bike-sharing is pushing the edges of third generation technology, another second generation program is nearing its launch. According to Australia's "The Age",

"A shared 'public bicycle' scheme, similar to a city bike initiative in Denmark, is set to be introduced in Melbourne, Government documents show.

"The system would be similar to a scheme in Copenhagen, which has had a free "city bike" initiative in place since 1997 [actually 1995].

"In Copenhagen, cyclists put a coin in a deposit box and may then take a bicycle for as long as wanted, so long as it is returned to one of 110 city bike racks. It cannot be taken outside the city centre.

"A spokeswoman [for the city] confirmed yesterday the Transport Department was working on the bicycle scheme, to be in place by the end of this year."

The beauty of second generation (coin deposit lock) bike-sharing is its simplicity. Instead of fancy-shmancy high tech bikes and stations, all that's needed is low tech one speed bikes and coin deposit locks. This greatly reduces the cost per bike. However, as there's no tracking method of users of the bikes, theft rates do tend to be higher than third gen programs. As the head of the City Bike Foundation of Copenhagen said to me in 1996, "If a City Bike is stolen, at least the thief is riding a bike." In many ways he's correct. Third gen systems can cost up to $4,500/bike whereas second gen systems can cost $500/bike.

Copenhagen's City Bikes (or "Bycyklen") were ingeniously designed by the father/son team of Wilhelm and Niels Christiansen and also are used is Aarhus, Denmark; Helsinki, Finland; and at a museum in Dusseldorf, Germany. The photo above is a sample of the 2000-model of the bikes which I helped build with a team of great Danes in Helsinki for the launch of their program.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Freewheelin' Gears Up for the Political Conventions

This morning Representatives Blumenauer, Oberstar, Petri, and Wamp hosted a news conference on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol announcing a "bike-partisan" challenge at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in September. Humana Inc. and the not-for-profit Bikes Belong are bringing 1,000 free bikes to the political conventions as part of Freewheelin'.

The Congressmen challenged convention delegates and all convention-goers to get on a bike and collectively participate in 10,000 bicycle rides and tally-up 25,000 miles. The Representatives noted that the benefits of bike-sharing are the deficits it produced - and the only good deficits you're likely to hear about these days - a deficit in obesity and pollution.

Freewheelin' is normally an unattended bike-sharing technology, however, at the conventions it will be attended by volunteers who will introduce conventioneers to bike-sharing. After each convention, 70 bikes and seven stations will remain in the cities with the remainder of the bikes donated to social programs.

If SmartBike D.C. doesn't launch this August as is hoped, Freewheelin' in Denver after the Convention, when it becomes unattended, could be the U.S.'s first high-tech bike-sharing program. Stay tuned bike-sharing fans...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Post Number 100

I would like to thank readers of The Bike-sharing Blog for your continued interest. What started off as a whim in May 2007 with the launch of The Bike-sharing Blog, readership and features of The Blog itself have greatly expanded over this time. Now over 200 individuals each day make this blog their source for international bike-sharing information. I work to make The Bike-sharing Blog interesting, useful, and insightful and hope it has assisted with the cross-pollination of this crazy little concept on two wheels in its spread throughout the world.

In my on-going efforts to make The Bike-sharing Blog even better, I have created a new section especially for my readers from governments with the "Tender Examples" section on the bottom of the right column. In this section, I have uploaded tenders from localities around the world, including Brisbane, Chicago, New York, and Tel Aviv which should be useful to government officials in the writing of their own Request for Proposal for their own citizens and visitors to benefit from a bike-sharing program.

Now for the next 100 posts, I want to hear from you as to what you like about The Bike-sharing Blog and your ideas on making it even better.

If you don't have a bike-sharing program in your city yet, write to your local elected leaders and transportation department head. No other mode of public transit has ever been as economical, healthy, and environmentally friendly as bike-sharing and therefore every city around the world should have its own fleet of transit bikes.

Best wishes,

Paul DeMaio
MetroBike, LLC
Washington, DC, USA

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Better By Bike

As reported by TreeHugger, Mexico City has a new bike rental program called Mejor En Bici or Better By Bike. "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. The bikes are available from Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm."

While not quite bike-sharing as the three urban stations appear to be staffed and don't allow for a different drop-off location, bike use programs of all kinds such as this one and employer bicycle fleets (i.e., bicycle libraries) are gaining popularity around the world with the rise in the cost of energy and greater concern about the environment.

Image credit: Travesias

Monday, July 21, 2008

Employment Opportunities

In order to facilitate bike-sharing companies in staffing their programs and job-seekers in finding these companies, The Bike-sharing Blog is now offering a service where bike-sharing companies may place an ad linking to their employment page for a fee. For more information on ad placement, bike-sharing companies should contact MetroBike.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Albuquerque Plans to Roll in 2009

The City of Albuquerque has selected Clear Channel Outdoor to provide its SmartBike bike-sharing service. According to local TV station KRQE, "Mayor Martin Chávez said he plans to have 500 bicycles in more than 25 kiosks throughout the city by early next summer." Pricing for use of the program has yet to be worked out, however, the mayor promises it would be affordable.

After the problems Clear Channel has had in D.C. with the local power company, PEPCO, metering and electrifying the stations, Clear Channel is considering making their stations solar. This is a good idea in general and especially so in the American Southwest which has some of the highest rates of solar energy in the U.S.

image credit: Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Velib'? Hmmm, No.

Streetfilms produced this interesting video about Velib' - the largest bike-sharing program in the world. Eric Britton of the New Mobility Agenda, and Celine Lepault and Didier Couval of the City of Paris discuss their city's phenomenal bike-sharing program. Britton states that it's more than a coincidence that the rise of bike-sharing programs was timed with the world's increased concern about global warming, as a majority of existing bike-sharing programs have launched in the past 3 - 4 years.

I also have a catchy new soundtrack from this video which will be playing in my mind the next time I'm bike-sharing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Velib'

July 15, marks the first birthday of Velib' in Paris. The social experiment called bike-sharing has been tremendously successful, even though it has experienced a few bumps along the way. According to The Times, Parisiens and tourists have made 27 million bicycle trips on the Velib' in the past year which is a 70% increase in bicycle traffic. When many cities talk about doubling their bike traffic in 5 - 10 years, Paris getting close to doing this in one year is phenomenal.

The Times also reports that there have been three fatalities since the beginning of the program which is tremendously unfortunate, however, according to the article, "the overall [bicycle crash] rate has declined by 20%." This is due to the law of safety in numbers.

Research from John Pucher and John Buehler of Rutgers University, titled "Making Cycling Irresistible" shows that countries with the highest bicycling rates not coincidentally have the lowest injury and fatality rates. Click on the two graphs below to enlarge them (or break out the magnifying glass).

The Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany have some of the highest percentages of trips made by bike and are therefore some of the safest places to ride a bike. (The data was collected before Velib' began.)

Velib' and other bike-sharing programs around the world are creating cities that are more bike-friendly. Without Velib', Paris would not be as bike-friendly as it is today. This is not to say that bike-sharing alone can make a city safer for bicyclists as this also requires great political will and financial commitment to create a network of safe bicycle facilities BEFORE a bike-sharing program is implemented.

So Happy Birthday, Velib'! Thank you for introducing a wacky concept that supposedly would never work to the masses. Without you, much, if not most of the work that is going on around the world on bike-sharing programs would not have been done. Cities are places for experimentation and Paris has show that this experiment works.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Start Spreading the News...

The Big Apple is hoping also to become the Big Bicycle with today's release of a Request for Expressions of Interest by the New York City Department of Transportation. New York is an ideal city for bike-sharing with its population density, flatness, climate, and transit infrastructure. Bike facilities in the city also are ever-improving and they are experimenting with the Ciclovia concept of weekend openings of major streets for bicycle and pedestrian use in August.

The document reads:

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) released this week a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to examine the possibility of creating a bike share program in New York City. If feasible and adopted, such a program would create a network of publicly accessible bicycles at minimal cost, and could provide an important transportation link at transit hubs and commercial and social areas - greatly increasing mobility citywide.

"New York is a world-class city for biking, and we are looking to build a world-class bike network," said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "The number of bike commuters has increased 77% since 2000. We now have more than 300 miles of on-street bike lanes, more than 5,000 bike racks, and have distributed more than 15,000 bicycle helmets. Alongside this infrastructure investment, we continue to look for new ways to reach our goal of doubling the number of bicycle commuters."

The RFEI seeks expertise and information related to bike sharing programs from firms and other interested parties who would be able to implement such a program to serve both recreational and multi-modal transportation purposes. The RFEI notes that the most successful existing Bike Sharing Programs minimize the cost to bike share users and provide a sufficiently extensive network of stations to accommodate a wide range of potential short trips in the network's area of focus. However the agency remains open to receiving any new ideas and financing structures that would meet New York City's framework.

Bike-sharing programs elsewhere incorporate low-cost access to a bike network in an urban setting. Users either pay a per-use fee to access a bicycle at a bike station (normally, near a mass transit hub) or they hold an annual membership which allows them regular access to the public bicycles. Users are then able to return the bicycles to any station in the system. Common uses are for commuting, recreation, quick trips, and travel between transit stations, resulting in an overall reduction in the use of motor vehicles. The bicycles used in the program often include unique markings or coloring to distinguish them from privately-owned bicycles.

Respondents to the RFEI will be asked to provide detailed information on what they estimate the size of New York City's bike share market to be, as well as information on the scope of a feasible bike share program including ideas on station site selection, equipment, fee structures, technology and all related costs for both implementation and upkeep.

Only about 1% of commuter trips in New York City are made by bicycle, so as part of its strategic plan, Sustainable Streets, DOT intends to double that number by 2015 and triple it by 2020. Bike share programs exist in cities such as Paris, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Barcelona, Milan and other American cities such as Washington, D.C. have experimented with the bike share program.

For a copy of the RFEI, please visit the DOT website. The RFEI is not intended as a formal offering for the award of a contract or for participation in any future solicitation.

image credit: Opera Gallery

July Update on D.C. Bike-sharing Program

There continue to be delays with the electrical hook-up of the bike-sharing stations by the local energy provider, PEPCO. Seven of the 10 stations are completed, however, three still remain unpowered, stalling the launch date of SmartBike D.C. to August.

For a sneak peak of how the bikes will be checked-out, here's a piece on bicycling's rise in America by NBC News.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Portland Comes Up Empty-handed

As reported on BikePortland, Portland, Oregon has ended its search for a bike-sharing vendor and has chosen option D - none of the above. Portland originally began its search for a vendor to provide bike-sharing services in February 2007 and had three serious bids from Clear Channel Outdoor, The Portland Bike Company, and Library Bikes. Reasons as to why none of the potential vendors were selected to operate this service has not been disclosed at this time.

Potential reasons as to why there was no selection could include: 1) an economical bike-sharing technology was not offered without an outdoor advertising contract, 2) the user cost to the public was too high, 3) sufficient insurance or indemnity to the city was not offered, and 4) a required experience level was not available.

Hopefully Portland will not give up on bike-sharing. As the nascent field of bike-sharing grows in North America, more vendors and experience will make themselves available in the future to help Portland finish what it embarked upon. Portland is certainly one of the best cities in the U.S. for bike-sharing with the highest bike mode share of medium-sized American cities.

UPDATE: BikePortland states:

"Far from giving up on the idea, [Portland] Commissioner Sam Adams’ office says just they’re taking a new approach.

"Adams’ transportation policy staffer Shoshanah Oppenheim told me that once they began to 'delve into the meat of the responses' to their Request for Proposals (RFP, which was sent out on July 17, 2007), 'it was clear we needed to do more analysis.'

"Oppenheim says the legal restraints of the RFP process tied the hands of the committee formed to choose a vendor. 'Under the contraints of the RFP,' she said, 'we can’t talk to potential providers and continue to learn from them… it was hindering our ability to do the analysis we wanted to do to make sure the program was the right style and scope that would work for Portland.' "

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Montreal's Public Bike System

Montreal is well on its way to becoming Canada's first, and one of North America's first, 3rd generation bike-sharing programs with 2,400 bikes and 300 stations by the spring of 2009 as CNW Telbec reports:

"Stationnement de Montréal created the innovative Public Bike System (PBS), which it will also manage. The system includes bikes, technical platforms, bike docks, pay stations and proprietary software that runs it all.

"The design of the physical components of the system was entrusted to world-renowned industrial designer Michel Dallaire. The bikes feature clean lines and a sleek look that is carried over to other system components. The bikes are also notable for their sturdiness and safety.

" 'This is a unique concept that will allow any interested city to acquire a public bike system that can be rapidly set up on their territory with no technological development or infrastructure costs,' said Alain Ayotte, executive vice president of Stationnement de Montréal.

"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 and require no permanent installation. With no need for external energy sources, stations can be installed in virtually any location without incurring expensive infrastructure work. Stations can be set up in a matter of minutes, leaving no trace of their presence once they are removed. User-friendly, the system requires only an access card or credit card with no intermediaries.

" 'By developing the Public Bike System from a clean sheet, Stationnement de Montréal is in a position to deliver a high-quality, turnkey product that has been pre-tested to optimize efficiency, suitable for cities big and small,' added Mr. Ayotte."

If you have any ideas for naming their program, you can do so at The grand prize is a lifetime subscription to the program.

image credit: Public Bike System

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bon Giorno, Roma!

The world's newest bike-sharing program is in Rome, Italy. Called Roma'n'Bike, the program has 19 stations and 200 bikes spread throughout the historic center of the city and is run by Spanish advertising company Cemusa with Bicincitta'. (Sorry, Pope, no stations are in Vatican City.)

According to Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno (and translated by Google), "This initiative is an incentive to create opportunities and not a punitive system, with alternatives closer to citizens who can change the habits of the population. Cycling is a beautiful experience, even fun, which creates a more direct contact with urban reality."

Rome's VIPs on Roma'n'Bike

To use a bike, one must register with the program at one of the seven tourist information centers and pay a 30 EUR ($46) annual membership fee. Bikes are available between 7am - 11pm daily. The first 30 minutes are free, the second 30-minute period will run 1 EUR, the third 2 EUR, and every half hour onward will be billed at 4 EUR. (Remember, this is bike-sharing, not bike rental, and is intended for short trips. Customers needing a bike for a longer time period should consider renting a bike instead. This has been a Public Service Announcement by MetroBike...)

Buona fortuna, Roma'n'Bike!

Article from Fondazioni Italiani in Italian and English.

image credit: Roma'n'Bike

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bike-sharing and Helmets

An article in this week's TIME magazine titled "Bike-Sharing Gets Smart" discusses the imminent launch of D.C.'s bike-sharing program. I'm quoted having said, "It's not a good idea to share helmets because you have sanitary issues and sweat issues" and that folks should "B.Y.O.H." or bring your own helmet.

While I personally wear a helmet when riding my own bike, helmet use is not mandated on any bike-sharing program of which I'm aware, nor should it be. Bike-sharing has been so successful because it has allowed for the impromptu bike trip as well as not needing to carry a helmet if the rider chooses not to. If impromptu trips were removed from overall bike-sharing trips, I haven't seen any survey data on this yet, but I'd guess that this would negatively impact the overall number of bike-sharing trips. Mandating helmet use on bike-sharing, or bike transit, is the equivalent of mandating one bring a seat belt in order to board a bus. It's a good idea to wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle to limit injury in the case of a crash, but by not having one, it shouldn't prevent folks from riding the bus. Mandating helmet use with bike-sharing would be similar and certainly suppress the popular use of the bike fleets.

Bike-sharing programs providing helmets attached to the bikes or at kiosks could be a sticky issue, literally. After only a few trips on the head of a sweating individual on a steamy day of 100 degree Farhenheit (38 Celcius) heat, helmets would become dripping. Not to mention helmets being left outside in the elements to grow mold. Even with hairnets to make it sanitary as some jurisdictions which require helmet use by adults have discussed, nets would not generally be used as no one wants to wear a hairnet in public.

There's also the liability concern about providing to the public a helmet that has lost its protective ability by having been dropped or involved in a previous crash. A helmet like this would cease to be useful in case it were needed, thereby allowing damage to the wearer and causing certain lawsuits.

No 3rd generation (high tech) bike-sharing programs that I'm aware of require the wearing of a helmet. Now that bike-sharing is set to take over the U.S., many American cities with helmet laws for adults will need to grapple with the feasibility of these laws and how they apply to bike-sharing.

What should be done is to create safer and more bicycle facilities, such as bike lanes, cycle tracks, and trails as safety of bicyclists is proven in numbers. In addition, safer bicyclists and motorists are minted with improved education of both groups. Safe bicyclists are created through bike education classes for all ages, such as the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's Safe Routes to School program, bicycle rodeos, and Confident City Cycling classes - to provide some regional models. Safe Routes to School educates children on how to safely walk or bike to school. Bicycle rodeos teach children how to ride a bike and practice their skills with a series of obstacle courses. Confident City Cycling classes teach adults who either never learned how to ride or need a refresher on proper riding techniques. As bicycle safety education is lacking from most schools' educational offerings, these classes are absolutely necessary.

Motorists also need to be better educated about watching for all street users as this Transport for London video deftly points out, driver's manuals and tests in the U.S. should have bicycle components, and motorists need greater enforcement and higher penalties should they put the lives of other street users (especially those who are most vulnerable) at risk.

image credit: Helmets R Us