From some of the earliest bikesharing programs in Amsterdam and France to the incredibly successful Capital Bikeshare in the Washington, D.C. metro area, bike-sharing has become a viable alternative to driving to work or to run errands.
“In August 2008, the District of Columbia became the first jurisdiction in North America to launch a bikesharing system,” according to www.capitalbikeshare.com. Nearby Arlington was also working on plans for a bikesharing system, and the two systems combined to develop the Capital Bikeshare program, which officially launched in May of 2010.
The way the system works is simple, and many bikesharing systems across the country have chosen similar methods. You can join Capital Bikeshare for 24 hours, 5 days, 30 days, or 1 year. The first 30 minutes of any trip are free, and each additional 30-minute span costs extra. The programs are designed for short rides to run errands, go to meetings, ride to sports events, ride to work, and for a different way to tour the monuments on the National Mall.
SocialBicycles (or SoBi) is expected to launch this fall in New York City. Founder Ryan Rzepecki has a passion for bicycle advocacy, and is excited about the innovative program. “Our system will reduce startup costs to less than $1000 per bike, allowing systems to be deployed in a wider range of settings–smaller cities, universities, even corporate campuses,” he says.
With SoBi, riders will be able to locate and access bikes with their mobile phones, or by entering their account information into the keypad on the bike’s lockbox. The bikes can be returned at any bike rack by using the built-in lock. A GPS system is built into the bike, making the bikes easy to find through the mobile app. The GPS locator and lock are powered by a Voltaic 2-watt solar panel.
Denver’s bikesharing program seeks to “promote health, quality of life, and preservation of the environment in Denver,” according to their website. Denver uses a company called “B-Cycle” for their bikeshare program. It provides unlimited use with an annual membership and even offers corporate memberships.
B-Cycle is also the company behind San Antonio’s bikeshare program.
Even states like Minnesota, which may not seem like prime candidates for such an outdoorsy program, have bikesharing. Minneapolis has a program called “Nice Ride Minnesota” that offers bikes from April to November.
Finally, Miami Beach has a program called DecoBike, which offers daily and hourly rentals and monthly memberships, though those are only available to residents.
All of the aforementioned bikesharing programs use systems with a flat-rate membership cost and an additional fee for rides over 30 minutes.
Bikesharing programs are expected to pop up in Boston, Chattanooga, San Francisco, and Sacramento within the next year.
For more information on these programs, please visit their websites:
Washington, D.C.: http://www.capitalbikeshare.com
New York City: http://socialbicycles.com
San Antonio: http://sanantonio.bcycle.com
Miami Beach: http://www.decobike.com