Monday, May 23, 2011

Bike Sharing: It's the Future

My wife and I noticed them first on the streets of Paris: convenient bike stations for city commuters.

Bike sharing is a growing public service globally.

For example, since February 17 the system is up and running in Mexico City with Ecobici. Their goal is to "reduce the number of vehicles that go through the city everyday (over 5 million), while recovering public space, reducing pollution, and improving life quality.

The initial phase includes 1,000 bikes in 85 stations (although so far only 50 stations are fully functional), which can be taken for 30 minutes a trip with an annual cost of 300 pesos (about 23 US dollars). Registration is all made online through the system's website.

Stations are located at about 300 meters from each other, in strategic areas throughout the city. It is expected that about 24,000 people will make use of the system."

Other cities with a bike sharing program or planning one include: Barcelona, Montreal, Toronto, Rio de Janiero, New York City, Buenos Aires, Dublin....

"Bike-shares are the fastest growing form of transportation in the world, according to a leading consulting firm. And there's plenty of room for more growth. Nearly every major city in the U.S. has drafted some sort of bike-share program." The Bike-sharing Blog provides updates of global developments.

What's not to like about them? Of course, an infrastructure is needed to support them with safe dedicated bike lanes and secure, aesthetic stations. (Unfortunately some areas have been prone to theft and vandalism as in Paris.)