Bike sharing, the next mass transit system

We’ve had streetcars, then buses, then light rail and subways… now bike sharing systems are also becoming standard mass transit systems in major cities.

Some noted bicycle sharing systems from around the world:

Paris, France – Velib, 20,600 bicycles, opened July 2007, pop. 2.2 million – and by far the benchmark.
Barcelona, Spain – Bicing, 6,000 bicycles, opened March 2007, pop. 1.6 million
Toulouse, France – Velo, 1400 bicycles, opened November 2007, pop. 435,000
London – 6,000 bicycles by 2010, pop. 7.6 million

Hangzhou, China – Hangzhou Public Bicycle System, 10,000 bicycles, opened May 2008, may expand to 50,000 bicycles, pop. 3.9 million (keep in mind most everyone already owns a bike)

North America
Washington DC, U.S. – SmartBikeDC, 120 bicycles in August 2008, may expand to 500 bicycles, pop. 588,000
Montreal, Canada – Bixi, 5000 bicycles in spring 2009, pop. 1.6 million
Boston, U.S. – 1500 bicycles in 2010
Minneapolis, U.S. – 1000 bicycles in 2010
Denver, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, New York City (see the next entry) – Under consideration

Why the popularity?
– Paris’ bike sharing system nets over $5 million in revenue. The program is a revenue generator, not a cost, by letting the system operator sell ads in public places.
– 89% of Paris’ Velib members said the system allowed them to move around Paris more easily and 54% said that they traveled more in Paris because of it.
– 60% of the Barcelona’s users depend on the bikes for their commute.
– 50% of bike sharing trips made in France would have otherwise been by train or bus, 7% by car, and 20% in Paris said they use their cars less.
– 62% of Paris’ users say the program reduces their transportation costs.
– 96% of Velo users Lyon, France in the first year had not ridden in Lyon before – that says a lot about the potential health benefits.

Bike sharing is also probably the only valid example of a triple bottom line mass transit system.

Photo of Velib bicycle sharing system in Paris by LWY.

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