Bike-Sharing Gets Smart With gas prices skyrocketing and carbon-footprint consciousness going mainstream, more and more cities are betting that Americans are finally ready to make biking part of their daily commute. Denver and Minneapolis will also kick off bike-sharing programs this summer, and Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Seattle, and Arlington, Va., are in talks to launch their versions within the next year or so.
Why the renewed interest? One word: Vélib. Paris launched the Vélib program a year ago, and while très cheap (its name is French shorthand for "free bike"), it's actually not free. Although places like Copenhagen, Lyons (sic) and Barcelona are big on bike-sharing, the City of Lights boasts the crème de la crème, with 20,600 bikes and about 1,450 stations--four times the number of Parisian metro stops. It's hard to walk more than two blocks without running into a bike rack, which helps explain why the program has already yielded a 5% drop in car traffic. Paris has also removed lots of parking spots to make way for bike stations. ( Read more.)
Great article in an important national news outlet, on the growing interest in bike-sharing in many North American cities. Planners in Minneapolis and Denver will offer pilot bike-sharing programs during the Republican and Democratic national conventions, a great opportunity to showcase how technology (key-card locking systems and anti-theft GPS tracking devices) makes mass bike-sharing more practical than past " Yellow Bike" type programs.
Denver mayor John Hickenlooper is among the enthusiasts for bike-sharing, according to this article, having added 850 miles of bike lanes to city streets. "Whatever it takes. I want to get people excited about biking so that it becomes part of our social currency."