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Lyon and Paris, France offer the successful bike-sharing models that other cities are scrambling to copy. Their Velo’v
programs, respectively, offer thousands of bikes available for checkout at automated stations all over the city. Users pay nominal fees for annual memberships and are able to take a year’s worth of short trips (under a half hour) free of charge. Longer trips incur a reasonable, sliding scale which encourage a quick turn-over. Bikes can be checked out and returned at any one of the hundreds of stations.
Although the bike-sharing plans were initially controversial since they involved usurping parts of some streets for increased bike access, the grumbling subsided as citizens have flocked to the bikes and actually helped to lessen car congestion at the same time. More than five million riders checked out bikes in the Velib’s first three months of operation.
Although the U.S. does not have the same history of a bike culture as Europe, biking is becoming more mainstream. Car sharing programs, great tools in achieving a partial carectomy, have been successful. It only makes sense that U.S. cities look towards bike sharing to help answer the growing problems of congestions, pollution, and obesity. Cities with good bike sharing programs are also very appealing to potential tourists.
Portland, Chicago, New York, and Boston are all taking serious looks at a bike-sharing program. In San Francisco
, the board of supervisors is developing a program with Clear Channel. Clear Channel would be responsible for running the bike program and would receive exclusive advertising on transit shelters in exchange.
Here’s a partial recap of some of the other U.S. bike sharing initiatives underway.
New York City: Governor’s Island, previous home to a Coast guard base, will undergo a $400 million spruce-up as it becomes a recreation destination. Part of the attraction will be free access for visitors to a fleet of 3,000 wooden bikes.
The island is only a 10-minute ferry ride from Manhattan – and that too is free of charge. I imagine it will expose a lot of eyeballs (and butts) to the concept of a bike-sharing program in NYC. Renovations are due to be completed by summer, 2012.
Another trial program
ran in New York this past summer out of a SoHo gallery. The intention was to spread the bike-sharing word and give people a feel for how well it would suit the city.
Tel Aviv, Israel
is getting in on the action too. As Haaretz reports
the city will have a lineup of between 1,500 and 2,000 bicycles available in about 100 parking stations spread throughout the city. The city is also expanding their bike path system with 100 kilometers planned by 2009.
Bike Share Philadelphia held an informational public forum
yesterday (January 17th
). Snow did not detract from attendance and, in fact, the bike valet’s racks were reported filled to capacity. Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter was in attendance to voice his support for the project
DC SmartBike, due to launch in March, 2008, will be the first modern bike-sharing program in the United States. Although the service will start small, with 120 bikes spread between 10 stations, it’s a great test program and model for future expansion. Clear Channel Adshel
will administer the service.
Cambridge, MA: The Cambridge Innovation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts houses mostly startup companies, many with ties to nearby M.I.T. With a fleet of only ten bikes, their bike-sharing system is small – but it shares many of the characteristics of the citywide programs.
The goal was to decrease car-commuting and to make local errands easier. Any employee or client of the 170 companies in the building can get free access to the bikes. Short errands or lunchtime excursions become a breeze, and the bikes see a great deal of use.
"I didn’t start this out with the idea of making a green statement," said Mark Moreau, but more as a way to remind himself - and other adults who may have forgotten - that riding bikes is fun. "We’re doing this as a service to our clients."
- Washington, D.C. Gets Smart With Bike Sharing
- Vélib – Great Video of Bike Sharing in Paris
- Vélib – Great Video of Bike Sharing in Paris
- Velib: Great Video of Bike Sharing in Paris
- Paris Prepares for Electric Car-Sharing