Bike Sharing in the USA

Give them easy access to a bicycle and they will ride? That’s what the new company B-cycle is hoping. Starting this week, in coordination with Earth Day, the collaboration between TREK, health-care company HUMANA, and ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, will enable folks in Denver to rent bikes for trips around the city.

The cost varies. Membership is required and can be obtained online or at a bike kiosk ($5 for 24 hours; $65 annual; $30 for 30 days). (Other rates include $1.10 for a one-hour pedal, and $6.60 for two-hour rides.)

But a cool bonus: If you need a B-Cycle for 30 minutes or less, it is free!

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B-Cycle Station in Denver

B-cycle’s pitch is pretty good. “Imagine a bike that is always ready to ride, where and when you want to ride it. The tires are always inflated and the chain is never rusty,” says the website. “A bike with a basket to carry your knapsack. A bike with front and rear lights and a bell that fits people tall and short. A bike that’s there whenever you need it, and gone when you don’t.”

“That’s a B-cycle,” the text continues. “And it’s powered by the ultimate alternative fuel: You.”

Want B-cycle in your city? The company is hosting a vote on its website to help determine future cities where they’ll set up shop. Austin, Texas, is currently leading with more than 2,000 votes.

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B-Cycle bike

Hopefully, this will get non-pedaling folks to realize urban riding can be the quickest way around the city.It’s healthy and fun, too. A major part of this battle is providing bikes in good working order at an affordable price, which B-Cycle is doing. But what do you think Gear Junkie readers? Will companies like B-Cycle help lure city dwellers away from public transit or their cars?

—Stephen Krcmar

Posted by Alex - 04/23/2010 07:21 AM

I think this is a fantastic idea, but one that needs infrastructure support from the cities themselves. Renting bikes is great, but the only way to lure people out of cars and busses is by making them feel safe riding in traffic. At the very least, wide dedicated bike lanes are necessary. Right now, most cities and towns are set up for car traffic only.

Posted by jpea - 04/23/2010 09:02 AM

One thing minneapolis recently did was put up signs informing drivers of the parking rules downtown with the newest bike lanes. A few of the streets were recently converted from one-way to bi-directional traffic, so they put the bike lanes where the metered parking spots used to be, with the new metered spots on the outer flank of the bike lane. Dumb idea, and the car parking folks had no idea. You’d be biking along only to have a car parked in the bike lane. A few months passed and the city made signs every 20 feet or so educating parkers on the new rules. Little late, and still a band-aid for a bad idea, but the infrastructure is gradually getting better as long as the cities pay attention.

Posted by Abi - 04/23/2010 09:08 AM

Alex is spot on:

“Renting bikes is great, but the only way to lure people out of cars and busses is by making them feel safe riding in traffic. At the very least, wide dedicated bike lanes are necessary. Right now, most cities and towns are set up for car traffic only.”

We’ve been a car-centric culture for so long that it’s going to take some significant energy and investment to move people that aren’t riding now to ride.

Posted by Jason - 04/23/2010 10:32 AM

The B-cycle idea is very cool. I wish I had thought of it. It’s a great idea to offer comfortable, affordable, user-friendly transportation around the major cities. I sure hope Minneapolis adopts this technology. Maybe we’ll eventually get B-cycle out in the suburbs too!

Posted by Denis - 04/23/2010 11:32 AM

Minneapolis will have bike sharing starting in June. It is called nice-ride minnesota. It is not the same system as in Denver, but it uses BIXI which have been running in Montreal since last year and has been very succesfull.

Posted by ian - 04/23/2010 11:33 AM

It should be noted that DC’s bike sharing program has been around for a few years now. (sorry link fixed) Smartbike

Posted by easternclimber - 04/23/2010 11:33 AM

Paris has had a similar system for years that has been very effective – it’s a great way to see the city. They also put in a number of wide bike lanes, some with physical dividers between the bikes and cars. Glad to see a US city thinking of following suit.

Posted by Stephen Krcmar - 04/23/2010 12:04 PM

Thanks for all of your comments! Although, I’m all for bike lanes, I’d also like to see more education for cyclists. Classes like Smart Cycling teach beginning and intermediate riders a bit about vehicular cycling, a skill that is necessary in most cities. Especially those with poorly thought out bike lanes that regularly put riders in the door zone.

Posted by Ron Granich - 04/24/2010 03:06 AM

This is the 2nd season that this system that has been put in place the BIXI system. http://www.bixi.com/home/
It is now being sold around the world. I am a triathlete and I walk the 30 minutes to work each way and with winters that’s not a fun task. I see people spring, summer and fall using the bikes and the system has expanded rapidly all over the world with Major American cities hopping on board – Best of all the stations are solar powered – we also have bike lanes. The concept is simple you pickup a bike at one spot and drive it to another spot. We have pickup locations all over the city.

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